Dictation can help Improve ESL | EDUBOSTON

Dictation can help Improve ESL

Wednesday, Jul 11, 2018

Dictation is a powerful class exercise to incorporate into your ESL lesson plans. It gives students the opportunity to improve listening, speaking, reading, writing and prior knowledge recall skills. The noted links reveal a wealth of potential short dictations for ESL teachers to present to their varied level ELL students.

It is important to initially explain clearly to your non-native English speaker students why dictation exercises are a key component to their overall English fluency. The ESL teacher will first model the components of a basic dictation. The teacher will state that the missing words in the dictation represent a category, or categories, of certain types of words. A good starter category may be the three articles of the English language (ie, a, an, the). Your students, though, will not necessarily understand what it even means when you say “blank,” within a spoken sentence. The whiteboard may then be used as a tool, for you to write the words before the blank, then draw the blank line, followed by the next words in the dictation sentence. You then prompt and guide the students to use context clues and determine what word is to be used to fill in the blank.

Pacing of the delivery of the dictation to the students will vary according to the students’ ability levels. Practice will quickly allow your students to get used to writing what they hear and to contemplate what missing words will correctly complete the sentences. Having students read their completed sentences aloud is a great way for the students to practice their pronunciation skills, and for you to praise their understanding and participation. It also lets you remind the students of all information about the “blank” words. For example, with the category of the 3 English articles (a, an, the), the teacher reviews the pertinent grammar facts, as previously studied in the class, using the class grammar textbooks. For this category example, students recall that when they are describing something, they must differentiate whether the item is general or specific (“a” cat versus “the cat”). They must also identify whether the item being described is spelled with the first letter being a consonant or a vowel (“an” apple versus “a” dog).

Clearly, for every category of “blank” words in a dictation, there are many components to explain, model and practice with the students. The exercise will likely initially be quite challenging for your students. Eventually, though, they will improve and in turn so will their overall English fluency. Once students reach the level of being able to create and present their own dictations in class, the students will have displayed a mastery of the many skills involved with dictations.


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