These notes on dictation come from a talk presented by Edna Equihua.

Liliana Borbolla

The senses

The students write the following headings:

  • I see
  • I hear
  • I taste
  • I smell
  • I feel

The teacher dictates a variety of words and the students write them under the headings according to the sense(s) that the word awakens in their feelings. For example:

  • I see: church, computer, cloud, rainbow, rabbit
  • I hear: yesterday, typewriter, radio, rain, music
  • I taste: pie, rabbit
  • I smell: pie, rabbit
  • I feel: typewriter, rabbit, rain, music

When they finish, they can sit in pairs and compare their tables and discuss their feelings about the words and why they put them in the column(s) they did.

Quantifying sentences

The teacher dictates sentences. The students write each one down while adding extra information. For example:

  • He gets home late in the evening. He gets home late in the evening at 11 pm.
  • They live in a large flat. They live in a large 100 square metres flat.
  • It saves time. It saves a lot of time.
  • It's efficient. It's very efficient.
  • It often breaks down. It often breaks down every week.

Fill the gap

The teacher dictates sentences, leaving blanks by saying mmmmm. The students have to fill the gaps. The sentences can have a grammar focus, for example articles. The students complete the sentence with an appropriate article (a, the or ).

  • She used to be _______ teacher.
  • They went to _______ France on holiday.
  • Have you heard _______ news?

Alternatively, the teacher can dictate a story asking the students to fill in the blanks with verbs.


Put the students in pairs. The teacher dictates two words that are similar. The first student writes the first word and the second student writes the second word. Then they add two words related to the dictated words. For example:

  • wood, dark ... trees, chair
  • could, may ... modal, might
  • deer, brown ... fast, hunting
  • bee, buzz ... honey, sting
  • cold, hot ... sun, weather
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