a story about bad grammar and non-existent punctuation and my TEFL adventures
Dictation might seem like an activity from the 1950s, but it’s made a comeback in recent years in EFL and is a surprisingly effective teaching activity. If you think about, dictation involves listening and writing and requires thought on grammatical structures, vocabulary and punctuation. It’s adaptable to all levels and also really easy to set up and prepare – bonus. So, how does it work?
Find or construct a short text which includes the target language. You can either write a few sentences or just take an exercise from the coursebook. They shouldn’t be random but should form a cohesive text. It should only be a few lines. Set the context for your students and explain that you will be reading the text three times. When you read the text, don’t read it as a dictation, read it at a natural speed. The first time, the students have pens down and are just listening. The second time they can write down keywords. The third time they fill in as much as they can, which still shouldn’t be everything.
Now they look at what they have written. They should have a good idea of the meaning and content of the text but will need to reconstruct the language. They will be able to look at what they have and think about what is missing. In other words, they will be constructing the target language (the form) to bring out the meaning. Once they have done what they can, let them talk to other students to find any differences or make corrections or changes. Finally, read the text slowly or give them a hardcopy for them to compare.
Nice, simple, effective.