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  • Mr. G
    21 January, 2011 at 7:43
    • Total posts: 41

    I just read an article from About.com on using dictation to help students improve listening skills. I am working with a new student who is in need of improving listening for TOEFL exam. Unfortunately, the school does not have facilities for playing audio tapes for a student. Has anyone used dictation in their classroom? What did you ask students to do? If in a "one-on-one" setting, what suggestions do you have for utilizing this method of learning? Reading short stories? I need ideas from the masses please.

    Thank you. : )

    26 January, 2011 at 14:16
    • Total posts: 279


    Hi Mr G

    I think we need to make a distinction here between dictation and what we might call "live listening".


    Dictation suggests having students copy down word for word something they listen to, where the focus is on accuracy. This can be a useful exercise as long as the right text is chosen – and to choose the right text you need to think about the "real life" situations in which we need to copy something down word for word. Telephone numbers, addresses, times and dates are good examples.

    Apart from that, dictation can be useful to practise spelling and punctuation, to focus on self-correction ("I thought I heard this, but does it make sense grammatically?") or as a fun lead-in to an activity or discussion (dictate a couple of questions that will form the focus of the following activity, for example).

    A couple of ways to make it more fun:

    1. Shouting dictation race – Divide students into pairs, sitting facing each other at opposite sides of the classroom, so that they have to shout to their partner to be heard. Divide your text into two, giving one half to each member of each pair. They dictate their text to each other, and the first pair to compile the complete, accurate text, wins.

    2. CD player – Draw on the board the symbols for "play, "stop", fast forward’" and "rewind" and elicit their meaning from the students. Explain that you are a CD player and only understand these commands, and nothing else. Tell them they must copy down accurately the text that you read to them. Start reading at normal speed. Ignore protests such as "wait", "too fast" etc. Respond only to "play", "stop", "fast forward" and "rewind". They’ll soon get the idea. If you’re asked to rewind, read the text backwards. Read it very fast for fast forward…

    Live listening

    Live listening means that you (maybe with the help of another teacher or even a student) read a text or dialogue, rather than having the students listen to it on a CD or other media. This way you can alter not only the dynamic of the activity, but the speed and intonation too, and use these changes for whatever purpose you have in mind. (How does meaning change with different intonation patterns, for example).

    The type of listening activities you can do is then the same as with any regular listening.

    Hope that helps.


    Mr. G
    27 January, 2011 at 7:17
    • Total posts: 41


    I knew that I wanted to do this to enhance students listening skills. I just didn’t know how to tweek-it so that it had some substance to it. Thank you.

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