Running dictation with a twist – same fairy tale with many different endings

If you are a language teacher, your first thought after reading this title may be “Again?! Everybody knows it! I’ve done it many times and I am bored with this activity!” I think this kind of an exercise may be successfully used by any other subject-matter teachers too. It is not only about the content or spelling, but also about how you will use the dictated piece of work further.

We know that running dictation is an excellent way to engage students as well as to promote teamwork, collaboration, practising speaking, listening, spelling, reading and writing.

So, what do we do to extend the task?

Pick a relevant text or a set of short texts/sentences. The length of the text depends on the level of the group. The examples that are available to download are for low level students of English. Cut the text into parts and place them on the walls around the room or outside.

Ask students to work in groups of 3 or 4 at the most. You may group students randomly or pre-plan the groups if you want to differentiate according to a task or an ability. Ask students to choose a designated writer who will stay at the table and will be the only person in the team to use a pen. The rest of the team are runners (you may decide to ask students to swap every 3 minutes). The runners can only read and speak.

When the activity starts, all runners approach the texts on the walls and memorise as much text as possible. They then return to the writer and dictate a chunk of text as accurately (especially spelling and punctuation) as possible. Checking spelling and going back to read again are allowed and encouraged. You may want to create some additional rules, such as 1 minute on stand-by if runners write (cheating!) or if they shout out words to their writer.

Once the text is complete, you may decide to promote the following:

  • Reading comprehension – students read the text and draw pictures, or they match sentences with pictures, then colour them accordingly (as you can see in my example, available to download below).
  • Practising pronunciation – students have to read out the text and record it. Online resources should be allowed to encourage using study skills.
  • Embedding maths – students write digits and add or subtract them, or write equations and have to solve them at a follow up.
  • Embedding IT skills – ask students to take a photo of their final work and email it to the teacher or students use computers (instead of pens and paper) to type up the texts.
  • Applying self-study skills – when learners read the text again and make some notes, eg. listing words for a spelling test.
  • Doing peer or self-assessment – distribute the original texts and ask students to exchange their work. They use colour pens to correct mistakes and add missing parts.

Please see and use these example:

clothes and colours running dictation

Why not take a look at other Teach Learn Relax resources available to download?

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