Last updated at 13:30 BST, Thursday, 20 May 2010

Dictation

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Do you use dictation in your classroom?

  1. Never
    (25.5%)
  2. Sometimes
    (52.5%)
  3. Often
    (22%)

Total votes: 4169

Figures do not represent public opinion as a whole

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Do you think dictation has a place in the modern English language classroom? Why or why not? If you use it, what kind of dictation activities do you do?

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    • 1. At 4:44pm on 20 May 2010, Fessor_Chiquim wrote:

      In my classes I use dictation as listening practice. If a student is able to recognize "spelling" based on a sound he hears, he is likely to become more independent and to infer meaning more easily. Understanding the phonetic structure of a language is an important step on understanding pronunciation patterns. For Brazilian students that is very important, seen that Portuguese has a completely different phonetic structure. Also, when watching a film, listening to the radio, or even talking to someone on the street: if a student is unable to infer the meaning of a word, or expression, but is able to spell this word or expression (even if it has some little mistakes) it becomes easier for this student to look this expression up in a dictionary or reference book.

      I believe all techniques play a very important part in the learning of a foreign language. Teachers must only be aware of the implications of a certain technique. What are the pros an cons of that technique? what do teachers want to accomplish with that technique? Dictation, in my opinion should not be used a precision technique, students do not need to spell all words correctly. In my opinion, the goal of dictation is to give direction, to provide the learner with tools that will help him succeed in the foreign language.

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    • 2. At 6:01pm on 20 May 2010, Olgash wrote:

      I often use short (9-12 words or word combinations) dictations to make children learn spelling and meaning. It usually takes 5-7 minutes at the beginning or at the end of the lesson. At the beginning we just right English words to check spelling or make English-Russia/Russian-English translation. But at the end of the lesson I prefer making up sentences with new words.

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    • 3. At 9:05pm on 20 May 2010, Dani Spino English Teaching and Coaching wrote:

      Well, I don't use dictation owing to time constrains, classes are shorter than ever and this practice is quite time consuming. But I agree that it may be helpful in some cases. Specially in the case of a student who has spelling problems...

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    • 4. At 01:13am on 21 May 2010, range wrote:

      Yes, I think that dictation has a place in the modern English language classroom. We need to use it every time to see the meaning of something.

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    • 5. At 05:07am on 21 May 2010, Tienhoa wrote:

      It is clear that the skills of reading, listening, writing and speaking are needed to acquire languages either mother tongue or foreign language. A major question to be considered is the role of dictation in the learning of languages in the classroom.

      For most of us, it is rarely to hear the word "dictation" in the English tests as well as English courses. If looking into its function, however, it is a combination of skills of reading, listening and writing. Therefore, it is necessary to be dictation while studying English language in the classroom. There are many ways to conduct dictation, one of them is a teacher or student gives dictation while other students take it. Alternatively, a cassette or MP3 player can be used to replace the teacher to give dictation.

      Thus, it is important to have dictation sessions in the classroom, I would argue that, at least, dictation helps to improve crucial skills for English learners.

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    • 6. At 06:48am on 21 May 2010, asuka wrote:

      In my opinion, I think using dictation is very important for teaching and learning English. We don't need big dictations to make students confuse . In fact, if we have free time, just simply use the small tests before starting lessons. Make them funny. I think they will help students to learn deeply!

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    • 7. At 08:08am on 21 May 2010, aaronmarygreenwood wrote:

      english is simply too complex and complcated to expect a 'satisfactory' version in writing.

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    • 8. At 08:18am on 21 May 2010, Makiko wrote:

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    • 9. At 11:01am on 22 May 2010, alyazidi wrote:

      This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

    • 10. At 10:54pm on 22 May 2010, lindsey23 wrote:

      I think dictation does have a place in the modern English classroom even though it may be seen as a rather traditional type of task. English spelling is tricky but one needs to have a grasp of the basics, whatever one does with one's English. Even if the message gets across in a company, e.g. in an e-mail, dreadful spelling does not give a very good impression of one's firm.
      Students need, moreover, to learn about how word stress and spelling are linked to one another, by this I mean there are word pairs which can only be differentiated from one another by their stress pattern, e.g. although/also or laboratory/lavatory. Get the stress wrong and the brain is getting wrong messages. The brain needs to hear the right words as quickly as possible.
      I don't use dictations as a means of testing as such, i.e. that a dictation is tied to a grade system.
      Two activities I particularly like are:
      - the running dictation, which is fun and spreads the pressure as the whole team is trying to get it right and shares responsibility
      - dictogloss. I think this is a good way of teaching students to reformulate language. It is not important to get every word down but rather the gist. Students need to learn that they don't need to take a message down verbatim and thus keep having to ask "could you repeat that, please?". In one's native language, one can reformulate sentences quickly whereas in a foreign language it takes a bit of time but can, nevertheless, be practised. Short note-taking exercises help. And again, done in a small group means the stress is spread and students are working together and helping one another.

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    • 11. At 12:29pm on 23 May 2010, y-onishi wrote:

      Dictation can be a very useful tool for teaching a foreign language for every learner except for elementary-level learners, perhaps. The level and volume of the passage for dictation can easily be adjusted to meet the level of the students. It can be an article from a newspaper. it can be a story from a book, or it can be something you make up. It doesn't even have to be a complete dictation, which requires the students to write down every word. It can be a partial dictation, where the students just have to fill in the brackets in the story they listen to and do not have to write down the whole story. Of course, the number of the brackets can be anything to suit the students. When I give dictation, the students concentrate a lot better than simple have them listen to a story for comprehension. I honestly do not understand why there should be a question at all about whether dictation has a place in modern English language classroom or not. Of course, it has. The question should be how can it be best used.

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    • 12. At 12:42pm on 24 May 2010, yogendra shastri wrote:

      In my classroom dictation plays a major role in which I find what level my students are up to. Particularly when I check their books I find that they have made many mistakes and thus dictation is a sort of indirect feedback to me.

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    • 13. At 3:42pm on 24 May 2010, lsy wrote:

      This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

    • 14. At 9:04pm on 24 May 2010, Dorota wrote:

      Sometimes I dictate students some sentences which they have read earlier. It isn't their favourite way to check their knowledge. Sometimes I notice that they have many problems writing only a few sentences in English. They use books which have exercises to complete or only short forms to write. They have opportunities to copy everything.

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    • 15. At 7:24pm on 25 May 2010, bhavesh wrote:

      This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

    • 16. At 08:47am on 29 May 2010, MargitK wrote:

      This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

    • 17. At 2:22pm on 29 May 2010, oh wrote:

      This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

    • 18. At 11:17pm on 29 May 2010, rosana baptista wrote:

      I'm a English teacher in a brazilian public school and I never work with a dictation in my english classes, the reason is in the my students' difficulty to listening a foreigner language as English. In Brazil, we have many problems in public Education: violence, poverty, low quality in the learning, few resources like: lab, net in others. But, we are changing for better by now. I hope in a few months be here with good news about dictations.

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    • 19. At 3:54pm on 31 May 2010, Corrianne wrote:

      I use dictation regularly to reinforce a student's learning. It's usually short text, a sentence or two at most. Listening, repeating, summarising and writing. This uses hearing, speech, active thought and written output. We then correct the spelling and grammar of the written text, so the student learns on that level too. The student can then use his or her own notes, the dictation, to study after class.

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    • 20. At 08:22am on 03 Jun 2010, Sudheer wrote:

      This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

    • 21. At 12:30pm on 06 Jun 2010, Stephen Baker wrote:

      I use dictation regularly in my classes and find my students benefit in many ways. One Slovakian student told me how much her English had improved since I'd introduced dictation into each lesson. So what are the benefits?

      Firstly, it helps students to listen carefully to the sounds of the English language, the pronunciation, the tone and intonation. It is surprising how good they are at picking up the sounds, even if they can't spell the words correctly. I always congratulate them if they have interpreted the right sound, even though the spelling is wrong.

      Secondly, they have the opportunity to grasp the meaning of the words used in context. I try and choose a topical and interesting subject which will, I hope, encourage them to fully understand the text.

      Thirdly, I always introduce new words above their present competence because they will meet these words in everyday living. Most of my students are long-term residents in the town where I teach, so extending their vocabulary is essential for them and welcomed by them.

      Fourthly, some students have difficulty in forming letters and words and dictation aids their improvement. If they choose (as some do) they can take home the text and practise their writing skills in between lessons.

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    • 22. At 03:40am on 09 Jun 2010, Ana Vogt wrote:

      I sometimes use dictations in my classes and I consider them a very good activity not only as a listening task, but also as a writing one. I generally use them as a warm up and spend from 5-10 minutes of my class. I can assure that they really work if the teacher is able to make it a fun experience to the students encouraging them to exchange ideas during the correction.

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    • 23. At 4:53pm on 13 Jun 2010, Geovani wrote:

      I think picture dictations are very useful because the teacher is able to assess all the four skills in just one activity, usually beginners and pre-intermediate students enjoy this sort of activity as well.

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    • 24. At 10:55am on 16 Jun 2010, turnandtoss wrote:

      There is no doubt that forcing students to spell vocabulary items
      by usinh dictation will definetely place a burden on them!

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