A few more ideas on using that versatile
activity - dictation.
When you want to review different sets of words, a fun way
to do it is to dictate each word, the students write them
down & when someone guesses the connection between the
words they shout out the connection.
Sun, Mirror, Star, Independent, Times ....British newspapers
chat up, marry, split up, get engaged.......relationships
water, ball, towel, wet, sun, cream......swimming pool/beach
For lower levels & younger learners,
on a smaller scale you could dictate letters & when they
think they know the word they shout it out.
Another useful way of reviewing vocabulary. Find a picture
that contains vocab that has recently come up - maybe one
from the unit in the coursebook - & as you describe the
picture the students draw it. They then check with the original
picture. You could then hand it over to the students to do
the same in pairs with other pictures.
Text to graph:
This is similar to the picture dictation but as you read a
text, the students put the information they hear on to a graph.
Good for the business student & those who have to deal
with figures & trends.
This is a nice technique when you have got a shortish text.
Basically you make it in to an information exchange task by
blanking out different sections of text on each copy of the
text. Student A has to ask student B for the missing information
& vice versa. We've used this technique in a lesson plan
on the site - see
stage 2 in the plan about the Euro.
And the material
for this, the two texts.
Here are the links to the dictation ideas
we've already looked at in the Tips:
Normal & shouting
Dictate the information
High speed dictations/dictogloss
Dictation in placement
If you don't know the book 'Dictation' by
Davis & Rinvolucri (CUP), you must check it out. Lots
of imaginative ways of using dictation. To
see this book at Amazon
If you've got any more dictation ideas, please
send them in.
to the contents
Homework is an essential element of classroom
learning. It links the lessons, & makes up for the lack
of classroom time. Mostly we tend to give writing & reading
tasks for homework as the logistics of these are the easiest.
What about speaking & listening homework, both areas where
students feel they need the most work? Of the two, providing
speaking homework is the more difficult - here are a couple
- the obvious one is for the students to
practice the dialogues & monologues they have looked at
in class at home. Simply reading - in effect, drilling themselves
- can certainly do no harm & may do a lot of good in the
long run. With regular marking of tone units in class the
students may do the same at home when preparing how to say
the dialogue or monologue.
- get your students to ring each other in
English. Easier said than done - if they speak the same language
why wouldn't they naturally do it in their language, you ask.
True, but if you explain why they are doing it & they
are interested in doing it then there shouldn't be a problem.
You could set up some pair work information gap in the class
& they carry out the task by phone at home - one ringing
a lost property office to claim something. The 'office' student
has a page of similar objects & the student ringing has
to describe their property in detail. Or requesting some information,
plane/train/shop using timetables & price lists.
- if in an English-speaking country, ask your students to
find out some information & report back. This could be
going to public offices or their host families & friends.
To make it more challenging they could ring up for the information.
- give your students a blank tape & make sure they have
access to a tape recorder at home that records. You could
structure this like a learner diary - instead of writing it
down they speak on to the tape & you respond on the tape
For the Tip on learner
You could set specific tasks too - the students
could record a monologue about a set area - you take them
in & give feedback by recording yourself at the end of
the monologue. The students could hand each other their tapes
for additions to the task or comments.
They could prepare a dialogue, writing it out first, &
tape only one of the speakers, leaving gaps for another speaker.
They then swap tapes with their classmates & fill in each
others' missing parts.
If you have any more ideas for giving speaking
homework, send them in.
to the contents
This week's Tip is about
timetabling. Certain themes lend themselves to a chronological
approach i.e. starting at the beginning of the process &
working through each stage. Here are a few examples.
Work: looking at job adverts >
writing application forms > interviewing > deciding
on candidates > starting work > work & companies
> promotion > being fired/made redundant > retirement
Each stage will throw up different areas
to focus on e.g. scan reading the job adverts & question
tags through the interview stage.
Housing: deciding on needs > house
adverts > visiting the estate agent > visiting properties
> negotiating house price > renovating > moving house
> settling in
Crime: crimes & criminals vocab
> catching criminals > arresting > bringing to court
> punishments > prison > release
Shopping: writing shopping lists >
different shops > talking about shopping experiences &
habits > returning items & complaining > written
Holidays: brochures & deciding
on holidays > arranging the holiday > describing experiences
> writing postcards > returning home > complaining
Money: opening a bank account >
talking about expenses > asking for a loan > winning
the lottery > deciding how to spend money > going bankrupt
The chronology can use the stage headings
as an overview of the area & then be reviewed as each
stage comes up, as in;
Relationships: meeting > picking up > small talk
> asking out > going out > getting on well > going
steady > get engaged > get married > have children
> split up > get divorced
This gives you & your students a framework to follow -
all know where they are heading. A theme can be spread out
over a week or two. A problem with this approach is that your
students may not be too interested in a particular theme so
you need to talk to them about the themes they'd like to cover,
'sell' it well & explain the theme & at the same time
make the lessons interesting & fun.
to the contents
the Past Teaching Tips