Dictogloss – a teaching technique for all skills

An engaging language technique

by | Aug 11, 2019 | Grammar, Tips

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 good place to buy accutane online 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) …

About the Author

About the Author

CEO and Co-founder of Juice Academy

Mehdi Safavi is a Cambridge certified English teacher (CELTA Grade A), IDP-trained IELTS expert, Sussex Downs College TESOL with 17+ years of teaching & teacher training experience. More about him →


  1. khaled

    Hello Dr
    I have used dictoglos as techniques for teaching vocabulary, and I want to ask you about my objective and questions and hypothesis.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

IELTS Listening Course

IELTS Listening

Best approaches to each part of the IELTS Listening test


IELTS Reading

All the strategies you need for success in IELTS reading

IELTS writing

IELTS Writing

How to write letters, reports & essays based on IELTS criteria

IELTS Speaking

IELTS Speaking

Top tips and speaking practice materials for the three parts


IELTS Essential Words

Absolutely essential words for the IELTS test


What’s IELTS

An introductory course providing an overview of the IELTS test and format.


One Word or Two

Focusing on words that may appear to be composed of two separate parts but are, in fact, written as a single word.

IELTS Courses

Looking for a complete online IELTS course with international IELTS experts?