Dictation is a popular language learning activity. It is a useful activity that can be used to teach a variety of language skills such as spelling, pronunciation and listening comprehension skills. But have you heard of its sister, Dictogloss?
Dictogloss is quite similar to dictation, but it has an added benefit. Dictogloss requires students to pay close attention to important grammatical features found in the text. By consciously noticing these grammatical features, students are likely to strengthen their grammar knowledge, in particular those difficult-to-learn grammar points e.g., tenses, subject-verb agreement etc.
In dictation, teachers simply read the target text several times so that students can write down the sentences as accurately as possible. In Dictogloss, students do not write down the words or sentences dictated by the teachers; instead, they reconstruct the meaning of the text using their own words.
A Dictogloss lesson typically involves the following steps:
1. Pre-listening: Teacher provides an overview of the gist of the text and teaching points e.g., simple present vs present prefect.
2. First listen: Teacher reads the text at normal speed. Students listen for general comprehension.
3. Second listen: Teacher reads the text again at a slightly slower speed. Students take notes of key words or phrases from the text.
4. Third listen: Teacher reads the text again. Students take more notes.
5. Group work: In pairs of small groups, students use their notes to reconstruct the text
6. Checking: Students check their reconstructed text against the script.
7. Closing: Teacher provides feedback on key teaching points.
8. Reflection: Individually, students write a short note on their plan on how they can further improve their knowledge of simple present and present perfect tense.
If you want to know more about how Dictogloss can be used together with cooperative learning techniques, you will find this article useful: Combining Dictogloss and Cooperative Learning to Promote Language Learning.
Wajnryb, R., & Maley, A. (1990). Grammar dictation (Vol. 3). Oxford University Press.