Controlled Practice and Free Practice

These terms are used to define two separate types of exercises and activities that are used in the English language classroom. Controlled practice is used to describe exercises that are designed to re-enforce a specific language point and require a particular answer such as crossword puzzles, word searches and gap-fill worksheets. In contrast, free practice is used to describe activities that are designed to allow the students to practice the language point in an unrestricted manner, usually including the use of previously learnt language. Examples of free practice activities include class debates, role plays and class surveys. Controlled practice exercises are an integral part of the lesson as they strengthen the student’s knowledge of each individual language point. Free practice activities are also essential as they allow the student to experiment with the language without having to produce specific answers.