Dictation

Preparation:

T or SS find a suitable text. Choose a text that is interesting for you and your students, and at a level that will challenge them, i.e. just above their current level. You might want to adapt the text, e.g. you could make it easier by changing harder words for synonyms and deleting harder sentences. The text could be:

  • from a real source of English, e.g. a newspaper, book, leaflet
  • one that a group has created, e.g. in a Mode 1 class
  • one that an individual SS has written
  • one that T has written

Method:

1. SS work in pairs. For each pair, T gives half of the text to one partner and the other half to the other partner. SS sit back to back; one reads their text and the other writes it down, then they swap roles and repeat the activity until both SS have a full copy of the text. They should not show each other their texts.

2. Group feedback: T asks one SS to read the whole text aloud. T asks SS if there are any more new words and phrases that they don’t know in the text. If there are, T elicits the meaning of the new vocabulary from the other SS, where possible.

Tips:

  • Variation #1: T prepares two versions of the text, each with different gaps, so that one student has a text with paragraphs that the other does not have, and vice versa. T could replace the missing paragraphs with lines so that SS can easily write in the missing text as it is dictated.
  • Variation #2: T could read out the text for the students to write down, but this is really too much like ‘top-down’ teaching. Better to let the SS do all of the work!
  • This is another way to introduce the text, while activating the new target vocabulary that SS have just encountered, and getting SS to use speaking and listening skills.
  • The target vocabulary should be the most difficult words from the text, so that when SS are dictating they generally understand what they are saying.

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