Dictation is a very useful ESL activity that promotes many skills at once:
* writing (accuracy: spelling, punctuation)
* reading (when students read the text afterwards for correction)
* speaking (when T & students discuss the text afterwards)
How I Use Dictation:
I start and end every unit/theme with a dictation. If the unit happens to be about music, then the dictation texts will also be about music. I make sure that the level is appropriate and that the texts contain the new vocabulary words/lexical items and grammar structures that will be covered in the new unit. The two texts that I use will either be identical or (more often) variations of the same.
I use the first one to start the unit and expose my kids to the "new stuff" (words and structures) that they will be expected to master by the end of the unit. They usually make a lot of mistakes the first time around. This is expected and welcomed - I tell my students to be happy that they made those mistakes because now they "know what they don't know". The second dictation is used to finish off the unit/theme. This time there will (hopefully) be much fewer mistakes to correct! By comparing the first and second dictation the students can clearly see what progress they've made over the last couple of weeks!
Step #1: The T reads the dictation text through once, at normal speed. The students should only listen.
Step #2: The T reads the dictation again but stops after each phrase or meaningful unit. Students write what they hear. For any words they cannot transcribe, they leave a blank.
Step #3: The T reads the dictation through a third time at normal speaking speed. The students should check their work and make any last changes.
Step #4: The T projects the dictation text to the whiteboard and goes over it with the students. The students can also switch papers and check each other's work (I usually have them do this with my "end of the unit dictation").
Some Other ways to Use Dictation.
1. As fillers - short quick dictations can fill in an odd five minutes with something meaningful, see: http://www.tefl.net/esl-lesson-plans/esl-activity-dictation.htm
2. Song Dictation, see: http://iteslj.org/Techniques/Cullen-SongDictation.html
If you have doubts, read this list of the benefits of dictation written by Scott Alkire. I have shortened the text a lot and if you want to read all of it you can find it here: http://iteslj.org/Techniques/Alkire-Dictation.html
Benefits of Dictation
1. Dictation makes the students and the teacher aware of the students' comprehension errors--phonological, grammatical, or both.
2. Dictation shows students the kinds of spelling errors they are prone to make.
3. Dictation gives students practice in comprehending and transcribing clear English prose.
4. Dictation gives students valuable practice in notetaking.
5. Dictation gives practice in correct forms of speech.
6. Dictation can help develop all four language skills in an integrative way.
7. Dictation helps to develop short-term memory. Students practice retaining meaningful phrases or whole sentences before writing them down.
8. Dictation can serve as an excellent review exercise.
9. If the students do well, dictation is motivating.
10. Dictation involves the whole class, no matter how large it is.
11. During and after the dictation, all students are active.
12. Dictation exercises can pull the class together during the valuable first minutes of class.
13. Dictation can provide access to interesting texts.
14. Knowing how to take dictation is a skill with "real world" applications.
15. Dictation can be a good indicator of overall language ability.
- Teaching resources
- Teacher development
- Teacher training