How to use google to make your gap filling exercises more engaging
(Clique aqui para português)
The thing students tend to hate the most, aside from drilling, is "filling in the gaps". I believe this stems from the fact that there is this expectation that class time is a moment when we "speak English", so less communicative tasks may come across as a waste of time, when in fact they are not. Gap-filling tasks provide students with an opportunity to infer and get acquainted with linguistic patterns that will ultimately help them to better understand and produce language on their own. After all, information comes in the form of chunks, right?
A good way to make this less boring is to, instead of giving them random sentences, taking the material you want to use from actual websites, and adding them to a google document with a fun layout (and by that I mean changing the font). By doing so, you will be showing your students what language actually looks like in the real world, whilst also letting them see you've put effort into making something visually appealing.
Here's how google has helped me and could possibly help you too:
An A2 student of mine had problems using very x many x much x very much x a lot x a lot of. To be fair, she didn't exactly mix them; she only ever remembered to use very, as it was the first one of the terms she learned (probably in the "thank you very much" beginner chunk we usually teach). As a speaker of Brazilian Portuguese, she could not immediately understand how come muito had so many equivalents in English, which is completely normal and something to work on. In order to tackle the problem, I did the following:
1. I created a gap filing task featuring very, many, much, very much, a lot e a lot of with sentences and phrases taken from websites. You can do that by typing the term/chunk you want to teach on google and seeing what pops up. My results featured the news, shopping websites, travel blogs, memes... pretty much everything we read online nowadays.
2. I CTRL+C CTRL+V the sentences onto a google doc file and changed the font in order to make it look more fun and less like a chore and especially so my student felt like it took me time to do it. I often use amatic, pacific and caveat for tasks students dislike doing so they feel like it's not that boring and I put effort into designing stuff. And it works =)
3. Instead of an answer sheet, I added a link with each website to the exercise. The correction moment was also an opportunity she was given to take a look at the context, check out some websites in English, develop a bit of curiosity over the language.
4. I used the context provided by these websites during clarification, which made my job much easier and way more visual. No powerpoint, no printed worksheet, no arial 12 or helvética.
It took a bit of time to do it, yes, but I have also used the same task with other students, so ultimately it has saved me a few hours.
I hope this helps!