Give them something to shout
I don't know about you, but I love using
dictation & so do my students. I'm sure you're all familiar
with a straightforward traditional approach:
1. Read the text all the way through, natural speed - students
listen, no writing.
2. Read each tone unit (*)
twice, slower than normal speed - students write down what
3. Read the text through again,
slower than normal speed, pausing now & then - students
correct their versions.
4. Students self-correct their
versions, each others or take them in to appraise yourself.
There's nothing wrong with the procedure, we all use it
from time to time. There are also loads of ideas around
on how to use dictation in different & fun ways. Here's
a student-student dictation:
A shouting dictation - this
is good for any group but if you have a quiet group &
want them to loosen up then try this.
Find a short text - ten lines
or so - divide the students into 'A' & 'B' - give stds
'A' lines 1, 3, 5, 7 & 9. Give stds 'B' lines 2, 4,
6, 8 & 10. Sit them on opposite sides of the room, put
on some loudish music & the students have to dictate
their parts of the text to each other over the music - i.e.
they have to shout to be heard by their partner.
I should warn colleagues in
adjoining rooms as it can get noisy & interfere with
other classes. Tie the text into the theme of the lesson
& a fun stage is had by all. Use the activity again
for more on tone units
Not so long ago we looked
at how dictation
can be used as a useful tool in classroom management
And we've also mentioned how
dictation can be used in placement testing.
More dictation ideas in the
to the contents
Taken to task
In recent years there has been a lot of
talk about 'task-based learning'. This term can mean different
things to different people. Here's a simple task-based procedure:
1. Think of a task that would
be useful to your students. This could be something as simple
as a spot the difference activity or a complaints roleplay
in a shop.
2. Brainstorm all of the language
the students will need to do the task. A good idea for covering
this is for you to do the task with another English speaker,
tape yourselves & analyse the language you used.
3. Work out a mini-timetable
of work that covers the language of the task.
4. Explain to your students
the approach you are taking & the task you are building
5. Teach the timetable.
6. Give the task.
7. Give feedback to your students
on the language & the content of the task & assess
how it went.
The nice thing about this
approach is that you & the students have a relevant
goal - the task. You might well be doing this & not
realise it's called 'task-based learning'. If not, give
it a go.
to the contents
Come on in & take a seat!
This is a very nice idea to use with
any group but especially for one-to-one classes where the
intensive two-way dialogue can be broadened.
The basic idea is to use a
real or invented person in a roleplay. In our one-to-one
lesson draw up another chair & put a photo or name on
the chair, the name could come from the student. Ask the
student to tell you about the person, imagine or real, maybe
writing down key points or vocabulary about him/her or questions
you would like to ask that person. Then ask the student
to sit in the chair & take the role of this 'guest'
& you then interview the student.
The person could be someone
in the news, someone in a text you have just read about/listened
to, a family member, someone in the same company etc. You
can fit this around any topic you are dealing with. The
preliminary stage is an important one, the brainstorming
about the person, talking about him/her but as themselves.
Then onto the 'taking over' of the person - the interview.
In a group class, you could
put the students into pairs, with a third chair drawn up
to them. They talk about the photo or a person/two people
- one from each student - & then they take it turns
to be interviewed by each other.