Dictation Techniques


Although some may find dictation techniques rather old-fashioned, I believe it is useful for language learners when done occasionally. Dictation activities can help students improve and practice their listening and critical thinking skills. Here are a couple of examples that your students could benefit from.
1. Picture Dictation: Depending on the picture chosen, the language focus and the activity could vary. Below are some examples:
a) Describing a picture to practice prepositions. Describe (dictate) a screenshot/ a picture of which they have to draw. At the end, have students compare their drawings, and then display the original picture. You can see some examples here.
b) Displaying a famous person to practice descriptive adjectives: Allocate A and B pairs. Pairs sit back to back- ‘A’ student facing the wall and ‘B’ student the board. Display several pictures of famous people at once. From the list, student ‘A’ chooses one person to describe (dictate) while student B has to draw a mental picture of the person. Among several pictures of famous people, student B has to identify who it is. Have students switch roles after doing 2-3 descriptions. If you have a small class, you can turn this into a competition. Arrange small groups of 4-5 students. Have one student describe the picture you have indicated. Give point for their true guesses. You can also vary the task by using a picture of a place instead of a person.
c) Displaying an event in which several people are doing different activities to practice ‘present continuous tense’: Have students do the same as above. If your focus is ‘past continuous’ rather than’ present continuous’, as a follow up activity, tell students to also write down what they remember using ‘past continuous tense’.
d) Slowly revealing a picture displayed on OHP: You could move a small cut-out peep-hole sheet to have students guess what is happening on the picture. Tell students to write sentences using ‘present continuous tense’. Then, allocate A-B pairs. Student ‘A’ reads out his or her sentences while student ‘B’ draws this time. Students swap roles. Wrap up by having students compare their drawings with the original picture. Subsequently, ask students to peer-check the language.
Variation: You could separate the pictures in a cartoon strip and reveal each strip one by one to have ‘A’ students produce some speculations using present perfect or past perfect while student ‘B’ draws a mental picture of it. Then, have students swap roles. When finished, students put the strips in the right order.
2. Drama Dictation: This is a great activity I learned from a course entitled ‘Drama in ELT’ which I took at the British Council some years ago. (The name was not drama dictation, though). I will never forget how fun it was to watch our trainer Gülem Aslan conducting it with us. If you like drama, here is how it is done: Students sit back to back. Mime a day in which you are doing things in series by also adding some element of surprise. Have students tell their partners what they see using ‘present continuous tense’. Make sure you pause in between activities so that they can mime back or have them dictate what they see. (I have adapted this a little bit by adding the ‘dictation’ part).
3. Video (Dictation): I came across with this wonderful idea on EFL Teaching Recipes. Similar to drama dictation, this could also be done through a short video. Choose a video that involves consequent actions so that students can describe what is happening. Turn off the sound and play the video. While one student watches the screen and describes the action, the other one listens only. Have pairs switch positions after a while so that they can take turn. Students love it especially if the video is fun to watch. One suggestion David Deubelbeiss makes is using videos of Mr. Bean. Well, I can tell you that my students love the videos of Mr. Bean, especially the one in the swimming pool. (Language practiced: present/past continuous)
4. Dictogloss: This is also another great activity to use, for instance, to present a new language or vocabulary item, or to warm-up to a reading or writing topic. To see the steps see click here .
5. Running Dictation: Through this activity students can have some fun by also using all the skills while at the same time reading, speaking, listening, and writing. Make several copies of a short text or a set of questions. Put up the copies around the walls. Assign A-B pairs (you could also do it in small groups). ‘A’ students run to the board to read the text, and then go back to tell ‘B’ what they have read. ‘B’ students have to carefully listen and note down exactly the same words. So, this is a back-and-forth type of a running activity. Have students switch roles half way through. Some variations could be as follows:
a) Checking or testing learning: Prepare a set of questions (not more than 4-5 questions) to check or test their learning. One student from each group runs to your desk to read the questions. (This could also be done in pairs). Once they have copied all the questions, have pairs swap their papers so as to check any grammar or spelling mistakes. Display the original set. Then, have students answer the questions. Close the activity by giving feedback.
b) As a warmer: Do the same as above; however, this time have a 3-5 sentence long text to introduce the topic. If it serves for pre-reading purposes, then, as a follow up have students predict what the text will be about. If it is to present a language, give a text that has the language that will be studied, and as a follow up, have students work on the language

Source : Nesrin’s Blog

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