This is a pair work activity that works well with learners of all ages. It is especially appropriate for low level learners.

Ellen Darling

The aim of a mutual dictation is for pairs of students to dictate information to each other in order to get a complete text. When students have got the complete text, they need to do something with it, such as solve a riddle or answer true/false questions. In this case, the text is a description of a job and they have to say what the job is. This is so that they read the text and try to understand it, rather than simply reading out isolated words.

It's a great controlled activity as it is completely learner centred and provides lots of student-to-student interaction. It encourages learners to cooperate together, has a fun puzzle element which keeps motivation up and it provides integrated skills practice as students are reading, speaking, listening and writing all in the one activity. The activity can be done with any short text.


Print and copy the worksheet (one per pair of students).


  • Put the students into pairs (As and Bs) and then give each student the relevant part of the worksheet. Tell them they mustn't look at each other's worksheet. If you want to students to work with other people in the class, not just the person sitting next to them, number the worksheets (e.g. A1 to A16 and B1 to B16 for a class of 32 students). Then students find their partner and sit down together. If you have an odd number in the class, make a three (e.g. two As and one B).
  • Tell them they each have part of a text and that they must work together to complete the text, still without looking at each other's.
  • They should do this by taking it in turns to read aloud the sections of text that they have. As one student reads, the other fills in the gaps in their text, and vice versa.
  • Encourage students to ask for clarification if they don't understand their partner, for example by asking Could you repeat that, please? or How do you spell '_______'?
  • They must then answer the question What's the job?
  • At the end you can get the students to compare their two halves of the text and correct any mistakes. As a follow up, they could write another job description, then exchange them to read and say what the job is.

This is an activity I first saw being used at the British Council in Bogotá.

Language Level

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