Dictation: Make it an interesting activity

(Reading time: 4 - 7 minutes)

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III. Picture Dictations

The teacher reviews the “There is/are” sentence pattern and prepositional phrases such as “in the upper right side”, “to the left of”, “in the centre”, etc. The teacher then dictates a picture containing 6-10 objects (e.g., a bird, an egg, a tree, a cat, a table, etc.).

The students draw the picture. When finished, the teacher shows the picture to the students so they can check for mistakes.

Finally, the students can be assigned to write a story based on the picture. 


There are many problems teachers face in managing, motivating, and activating students but with a little imagination these problems can be overcome.

Dictation exercises that shift responsibility for interaction and correction to the students provide teachers with an effective means for dealing with this ‘boring’ activity.

If the students themselves are doing the dictating, the entire class is activated and the teacher is freed to walk around the classroom. There are several advantages that walking around gives the teacher: 

a. The teacher is physically nearer the students, and
b. can thus provide individual help, while
c. being disassociated from the authoritarian role of the head of the class.
d. The teacher can follow what students are doing,
e. where difficulties are, and
f. still control the activities of the class.

Dictation exercises also make the results of language study more immediate and tangible, thus improving the chances for maintaining student interest.

They have also the capacity to motivate students by providing practice in several areas (e.g., accuracy, fluency, self-correction, negotiation of meaning, etc.) while combining the speaking, listening, writing, and reading skills. 

If our goal as teachers is to guide our students toward communicative use of the language, we need to help them make the transition from being passive learners to becoming active learners.



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