I often hear people describing 'gap-fills' as practice tasks. They seem to be common suggestions for Controlled Practice. I see a lot of value in the use of different variations of gap-fill exercises for things like: drawing attention to patterns, checking understanding, discovery learning (if designed properly), etc. But I don't see them as being practice.
1) Before the Olympics I __________ (visit) China three times.
In this task the learner needs to do only one thing (change the verb tense), and write only two words ('had visited'). As a diagnostic test or as a checking task to see if Ss recognise which form is appropriate, it might be useful. Can we really call that practice though?
- They don't need to interact or communicate in any way.
- There is pretty much no focus on meaning.
- They don't need to produce a whole sentence.
- They don't even need to produce a whole clause.
Shouldn't practice require more production than this? A whole clause, at least, surely.
What's everyone else think?
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