Simple Dictations

I like doing dictations in my classes. It is a simple exercise which everybody knows. This recent post inspired me to do more of them. I do dictations in my English classes as a form of a micro-listening exercise, and I do them in my Czech classes to give students training in listening and correct spelling of the long and short vowels and the accents (háčky a čárky).

I have adapted the method described in the post as follows:

  1. Choose a text that you did in class recently. It is best if the students have the text in the textbook for later reference. If not, prepare copies of the text. It is important that students are familiar with the text. I prefer to play the recording of the text for an extra challenge, but if that is too difficult, I read it myself.
  2. Choose about 50 words from the text – approximately 3 sentences.
  3. Dictate /play all the recording.
  4. Dictate/play the recording by longer speech units. This, I believe, helps train the students’ auditory short-term memory.
  5. Repeat several times until everybody has managed to complete the dictation.
  6. Ask the students to count the number of words they wrote down. Then reveal how many words there were in the text. This serves as immediate feedback for the students and the teacher. I am planning to do class research on the scores next year. Ideally, they should improve if the exercise is done often and regularly and consistently.
  7. Ask students to get a different colour pen to mark their dictations.
  8. Tell the students to open their books, look at the text and mark their dictations. They should write down the number of mistakes they had made. Again, the results could be noted down in a table and compared later. This stage encourages students to self-edit their own work and is useful later when students need to edit their writing assignments.

Advantages:

It is a short exercise. Unlike the dictogloss, it takes much less of your class time and I often use it as a warm-up if I want to get the students to work hard right from the start.

It is less stressful than a standard dictation collected by the teacher and marked. It is also less work for the teacher. Although the teacher monitors the work, there is no after-class marking.

It teaches the students to work independently during the self-editing stage.

It provides immediate feedback to the teacher in the form of two specific numbers: the word count and the number of mistakes. These can be recorded in a table and used for comparison.

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