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Dictogloss - a teaching technique for all skills

Dictogloss - a teaching technique for all skills

30 Jan 2014 Mehdi Safavi
One of the most engaging language teaching techniques used in teaching grammatical structures is Dictogloss. It requires minimal preparation and equipment and is the most favourite classroom activity with busy teachers. Here's how it works:

The teacher prepares a relatively short text (100 to 200 words) that contains examples of the grammatical form to be studied.

  1. The teacher uses a visual (picture or video) to set the scene and establish key vocabulary. If there is no visual at hand, a short whole-class discussion on the topic (of the text) would do.

  2. The text is not handed out; instead, the teacher reads it to the class at normal speed while the students listen only. They shouldn’t be allowed to take any notes.

  3. Then the teacher reads the text one more time - this time with very short pauses after each sentence - while the students take brief notes. (They shouldn’t be given the chance to try to write out the whole sentence). Remember this is NOT a mere dictation activity.

  4. Students form small groups of 3 or 4 to compare their notes and reconstruct the text as closely as possible using their notes. In each group, one student should be acting as a ‘secretary’. Naturally, they may miss some parts of the story, so they should be encouraged to use their own words to convey the meaning but keep the same style.

  5. Finally, one person from each group reads out their version , and the other groups comment on it and correct any grammatical errors. Alternatively, each group can stick their work to the classroom wall so that other groups can read it.


Once the dictogloss activity has been completed, the teacher shows the class the original story (or gives each student a copy) to compare, and the students' questions and problems can be discussed and solved as a class.

 

Why Dictogloss?

Dictogloss activities have several advantages. First and foremost, they can be used in classes of any level, and beautifully integrate the four language skills of listening, reading, speaking, and writing. Unlike traditional dictation, there is a gap between the listening and writing phases, giving learners time to think and discuss how best to express the ideas, and also giving them opportunities to talk about the language itself. Furthermore, dictogloss activities are a useful way of presenting new factual information to students, and encourage them to listen for key points. And last but not least, they give support to less confident students, as they are encouraged to participate in their groups as part of the structure of the activity. Because it is a co-operative activity, it is challenging without being threatening and it gives learners a chance to discuss language and to learn from each other.

In short, it covers the skills and areas below:

   * Listening (Listening to the T)
   * Writing (Reconstructing the text)
   * Speaking (Discussing their notes in groups)
   * Reading (Comparing their work with the original text)
   * Grammar (Reconstructing sentences)
   * Vocabulary (Reconstructing sentences)

Now, in your next class, why don’t you try this exciting teaching technique using IELTS Juice’s lesson on the Chinese New Year? It’s a short text apt for this very technique.

Watch Dictogloss in action (Youtube) ...