Dictation is a writing activity that involves writing down what someone says or reads out as it is being said or immediately after it is said. The use of dictation as a valuable language teaching and learning technique has gone through a long history and has been used for centuries all over the world. Dictation ensures attentive listening, concentration and teaches students to write from dictation. It equally trains students to distinguish sounds and helps them learn punctuation and develop aural comprehension. Blanche (2004) remarked that dictation exercises are old-fashioned as audio-lingual in a novel way, not only to teach listening and writing but also to teach pronunciation. Dictation should be treated as a teaching and learning exercise in which pupils learn to improve their language learning rather than being a mechanical drilling or assessing tool. The topicality of the research paper is that it has been neglected for a long time, second language teachers and in fact foreign language teachers have to learn how to use only the parts of older methods that are relevant in today’s context. Teachers can use different genres and a number of dictation activities to conduct their lessons so as to change a boring, threatening and stressful classroom atmosphere into a relaxing, supportive and enjoyable learning environment which subsequently brings a positive influence on learners’ performances. The major function of the language is giving feedback to students on their performance, by which students work through their individual errors. Dictation offers great opportunities for increasing accurate and fluent command of the language through students analyzing their work. If you reflect for a moment on what dictation actually does, then you will see that it can be an extremely versatile activity. It can also be argued that it practices vocabulary, syntax, grammar and, when the writer reviews his or her work, reading. In short, it gives practice in almost everything. The one skill absent from this list is speaking, but this too can be practiced if the dictation is approached in a slightly different way.
The subject of the paper will be focused on investigating the significance of methodical application in teaching foreign languages on the basis of dictation. Also, this paper will discuss integration of dict6ation in English classes.
The object of the paper lies on the analysis of requirements for dictation and effective ways of application during the teaching process.
1. Methodical aspects of teaching foreign languages on the basis of dictation
1.1 The concept of dictation and it’s types
Dictation is a valuable language learning device that has been used for centuries. Its advantages are numerous. The most common are that dictation can help students to diagnose and correct grammatical mistakes, it ensures attentive listening and trains students to distinguish sounds, helps learning punctuation and develops aural comprehension. The dictation with the broadest learning possibilities is “orthographic text dictation, in which students transcribe a unified passage. This is a classic dictation exercise which, besides reinforcing the spelling and sound correlations of English, uncovers comprehension and grammatical weaknesses in learners for the teacher to analyze and address in future lessons” .Dictation has always been a rather controversial activity in the language classroom. In spite of its limitations, dictation is still in favor as a teaching device at some stages of language teaching. Some language practitioners view dictation negatively, believing that it hardly teaches anything, but it may have some value as a testing device, although there are other testing devices that are more effective. However, dictation gives badly needed practice in listening comprehension .According to R. Montalvan (1990), there are “at least 20 advantages of dictation, and the most important are: 1) dictation can help develop all four language skills in an integrated way; 2) it can help learn grammar; 3) it helps to develop short-term memory; 4) practice in careful listening to a speaker will be useful to learners in the future in the note taking activities, for instance, listening to lectures; 5) dictation fosters unconscious thinking in the new language; 6) correction can be done by the students - peer correction of written dictation leads to oral communication”. Despite its benefits, currently dictation is not widely used in teaching English mainly because some language practitioners consider it teacher-centered and old-fashioned. P. Davis and M. Rinvolucri (2002) claim that “dictation contains a wealth of new techniques to extend the traditional language-learning activity of dictation. The activities range from the traditional focus on spelling and punctuation problems to exercises that emphasize personal attitudes and opinions of both teachers and students. Dictation provides activities suitable for a wide range of levels and ages, example texts for many activities, opportunities for students to create their own texts, and a variety of suggested correction techniques”. Moreover, it “normally turns out that in any average group of European teachers more than half do use dictation either regularly or from time to time in their teaching” .The potential problems that need to be addressed are an aversion to dictation, difficulty in producing a text and accuracy in writing. Additionally, dictation activities where students compare their version of the text to the original can increase their ability to notice aspects of the language that are sometimes overlooked, as well as mistakes which they commonly make. These might include common spelling errors, incorrect use of either definite or indefinite articles or the third person singular ending ('s') in the Present Simple Tense. The comparison of written work in pairs or small groups also helps students to become better at identifying their errors.
Sawyer and Silver (1961) define four types of dictation that can be used in language learning.The first, the phonemic item dictation, consists of the teacher presenting the individual sounds of a language (i.e., their IPA coordinates) to students for transcription. The phonemic item dictation is useful in that it increases the students' ability to recognize the sounds of a language and their contrasts, thereby facilitating their accurate production. This dictation is an excellent way to teach beginners to stop imposing the sound system of their native language upon the sound system of English.The second, the phonemic text dictation, is an extension of the phonemic item dictation. It consists of the teacher reciting a passage which students phonetically transcribe. The phonemic item dictation is valuable as a way to understand how English sounds change in connected speech. Though it goes beyond the objectives set for students in most ESL programs in the U.S., it is commonly used in English departments in many foreign universities.The orthographic item dictation is the dictating of individual words in isolation for transcription, similar to the traditional spelling test. It is useful for reinforcing the correlation between the spelling system and sound system of a language. In English this correlation is more complex than it is in other languages (e.g., Spanish and many Slavic languages), and so it is a worthwhile ESL/EFL exercise.The dictation with the broadest learning possibilities is the orthographic text dictation, in which students transcribe a unified passage. This is the classic dictation exercise all foreign language teachers are familiar with. Besides reinforcing the spelling/sound correlations of English, the orthographic text dictation uncovers comprehension and grammatical weaknesses in learners which the teacher can analyze and address in future lessons.
The ideal dictation comes from a contemporary source of clear, standard English. The subject matter of the text is up to the teacher; however, a lively, engaging text livens up the exercise considerably. Because one of the goals of dictation is to provide practice in understanding semantically unified speech, paragraph dictations are best for most drills. At the high-beginning level, dictations should be elementary statements that students have already studied, in simple, unified paragraphs. At the intermediate level, dictations should also come from material the students have already read, in longer, more developed paragraphs. At both of these levels, dictations help to reinforce basic sentence structures and vocabulary. At the advanced level, the goal is to force students to learn what they hear and what they do not hear. Therefore, the teacher should dictate unfamiliar texts, thereby making the students' experience of listening the primary aspect of the dictation.
In all cases, dictations must be selected according to the students' abilities, and the usage and style should be similar to what the students are expected to produce on their own in the course, both verbally and in writing. If one is teaching college students who must become familiar with a prose style common to modern essays, a passage from a writer such as William Zinsser, Malcolm Gladwell, or Phillip Lopate might be appropriate.A useful source for dictations at all levels is the class textbook itself. By using the textbook, the teacher will avoid selecting material that is too different from the language norms the students have been learning. By the same token, the selected material will have (or should have) good examples of the language aspects the class is dealing with in terms of grammar, vocabulary, spelling, and punctuation.
1.2 The use of dictation in an English language classroom
Research has shown that dictation can help students improve different aspects of their language proficiency. Davis and Rinvolucri (2002) explained that:
Dictation contains a wealth of new technique to extend the traditional language learning activity of dictation. The activities range from the traditional focus on spelling and punctuation problems to exercises that emphasize personal attitude and opinions of both teachers and students. Dictation provides activities suitable for a wide range of levels and ages, example texts for many activities, opportunities for students to create their own texts, and a variety of suggested correction techniques.
Again Alkire (2002) opined that dictation with broadcast learning possibilities is
orthographic text dictation in which students transcribe a unified passage. This is a classic dictation exercise which, besides reinforcing the spelling and sound correlation of English, uncovers comprehension and grammatical weakness in learners for the teacher to analyze and address in future lessons.
From the above assertions it is clear that dictation is a valuable language teaching and learning device that has been used for decades though often ignored by teachers probably because of their not being aware of its importance in instruction especially in a developing country like Nigeria. Pappas (1977) reported dictation as a good means of developing the learner’s comprehension. Whitaker (1976) also considered dictation as a good teaching device. He explained that aural comprehension is prized with literacy and ability to read the foreign language. Similarly, Morris (1983) drawing on the mistakes made by English as a Foreign Language (EFL) learners on three dictations concluded that dictation is a technique which can be used both as a testing technique and more importantly as a learning activity which helps students develop their accuracy in listening and writing, and reinforces structure and vocabulary. Valette (1964), had earlier asserted that dictation could be a method of both testing and learning, She believed that practice with dictation can help students learn the language and that the teacher’s concentration on different components of the language, including sound sentence structure e.t.c encouraged students’ awareness of the written language.
A few people were of the opinion that using dictation in class and practicing with it has nothing to do with the improvement of the learner’s proficiency. Cartledge (1968) was of the view that dictation is not a teaching device. He claimed that it could only help learners have some practice in oral comprehension. Stanfield (1985) rejected using dictation as a test of foreign language proficiency due to its strong association with the Grammar Translation Method (GTM).
Other researchers however have continued to believe that dictation can be used as a teaching technique due to amount of input it provides for the learner. Jafarpur and Amini (1993) observed that dictation allows the language learner to both comprehend and produce the language in the context of meaningful discourse. Myint (1998) further stressed that though dictation has always been a controversial activity in the language classroom, it is still a teaching device at some stages of language teaching because it gives the badly needed practice in listening comprehension. Moreover, Montalvon (1990) has earlier remarked that there are at least twenty advantages of dictation but the most important are:
1. Dictation can help develop all four-language skills in an integrated way.2. It can help learn grammar.3. It helps to develop short-term memory.4. Practice in careful listening to a speaker will be useful to learners in future in the note-taking activities for instance listening to lectures.5. Dictation fosters unconscious thinking in the new language.6. Correction can be done by the students peers correction of written dictation leads to oral communication.
It is surprising that despite all the benefits of dictation as enumerated above, dictation is not widely used in teaching English, especially at the secondary and tertiary education levels mainly because some linguists/teachers consider it teacher-centered and old-fashioned. However, currently dictation seems to be undergoing a revival as a useful teaching and learning device. It is thought that it can help develop all language skills that is, grammar, oral communication, pronunciation and listening comprehension. In the Nigerian context, there seem to be no work on the usefulness of dictation either at the secondary school level or tertiary level. Consequently, the present work is an attempt at bringing out the usefulness of dictation as a teaching and learning tool to empower students’ proficiency in English language at the secondary school level. This should contribute to the ongoing education reform project in Nigeria as part of teaching techniques hitherto viewed as old-fashioned is being rebranded to assume new and better meaning for effective teaching and learning in the classroom.
1.3 Requirements to dictation writing
The English language is a second language (L2) to both the teachers andstudents in most public secondary schools. Many students struggle to express themselves in the language because outside the classroom, they have essentially little or no contact with the English language. Again, people in general find it difficult to express themselves in grammatically correct English. Many views have been given to account for why many learners and people in general do not acquire language proficiency. The situation seems to be getting worse, especially with learners at the secondary school level. The performance of students at various external examinations has remained unimpressive. It is expected that after learning the English language for so many years, students would have reached a certain level of proficiency, so one way of arresting the anomaly seems to be the introduction of dictation as a teaching and learning device by English language teachers and maybe Literature-in English teachers. For any meaningful learning to occur in the English Language, dictation must be given a place in any modern multi-modal L2 methodology. To achieve this purpose and make dictation a worthwhile activity in the language classroom, innovative dictation activities should be implemented to replace the traditional dictation exercise where it exits at all. The following steps should be systematically followed in order to achieve positive results:
a) Pupils’/students’ interest and ability must be considered in choosing materials.b) The activities must be set from the easiest to the more challenging. Start with materials/works the students are familiar with, that is move from simple to complex exercises.c) Each activity should be conducted twice to make sure the students understand the rules and get used to the ways the activities work.d) Clear instructions must be given before the start of the activities so that the students understand well what they are expected to do.e) The teacher should provide sufficient support to the students who may have some difficulties during the activities (so as to avoid boredom).f) At the end of the dictation activities about five minutes should be given to the students to go through their work to check their spelling mistakes. The time given for this depends on the exercise and sometimes they may be allowed to use reference books or dictionaries.
Blanche (2004) explained that almost any “text” (in the philosophical sense of the word), thus most parts of any book, textbook, newspaper, magazine, broadcast, play, screenplay, poem, speech or song can theoretically be dictated in a foreign language classroom. He went on to counsel that the work selected must be:
i. In line with students’ average ability;ii. Relevant to their needs and interests;iii. Not too long (always less than a fully printed page);iv. Capable of being cut up into short, self-contained portions.
From the above, it can be deducted that dictation makes for good review and that texts that were used for different teaching purposes several weeks earlier can be reused. Dictation activities can therefore be taken from anywhere; for instance, textbook, newspaper, magazine, and poetry e.t.c. provided the themes meet the guideline listed above.
2. Practical application of dictation method in teaching foreign language
2.1 Suggested steps of using: dictation in the English language classroom
The ideal dictation comes from a contemporary source of clear, standard English. The subject matter of the text is up to the teacher; however, a lively, engaging text livens up the exercise considerably. Because one of the goals of dictation is to provide practice in understanding semantically unified speech, paragraph dictations are best for most drills. At the high-beginning level, dictations should be elementary statements that students have already studied, in simple, unified paragraphs. At the intermediate level, dictations should also come from material the students have already read, in longer, more developed paragraphs. At both of these levels, dictations help to reinforce basic sentence structures and vocabulary.
At the advanced level, the goal is to force students to learn what they hear and what they do not hear. Therefore, the teacher should dictate unfamiliar texts, thereby making the students' experience of listening the primary aspect of the dictation.
In all cases, dictations must be selected according to the students' abilities, and the usage and style should be similar to what the students are expected to produce on their own in the course, both verbally and in writing. If one is teaching college students who must become familiar with a prose style common to modern essays, a passage from a writer such as William Zinsser, Malcolm Gladwell, or Phillip Lopate might be appropriate.
A useful source for dictations at all levels is the class textbook itself. By using the textbook, the teacher will avoid selecting material that is too different from the language norms the students have been learning. By the same token, the selected material will have (or should have) good examples of the language aspects the class is dealing with in terms of grammar, vocabulary, spelling, and punctuation.
Dictation is a simple English experience. You are listening to the sound of the English clip and your exact goal is exactly what you are saying. This is an effective way to improve English reading skills. The dictators make you think about every word and sound they hear. You record what you are listening to, and then make sure you do not understand the answers correctly. You will also learn new grammatical structures, words and expressions, and reinforce those you know. This will help them enter your own words or record. Finally, the English-language dictation is a great way to write English and spell.
Some scholars believe that dictation is as old as language teaching itself. Until late 1960s, dictation has been regarded and used as a technique to reinforce students’ ability in correct spelling. It is known that dictation is the process of writing down what someone else has said. What I remembered from my own school is the teacher who was reading out the text or list of words piece by piece, pausing for us to write what we had heard. Then our scripts were marked. It was out of 20 and we would miss out one point for each error. In some schools, if students had over 20 mistakes, they would get a minus scorewhich meant a student who wrote nothing could score higher than one with a lot of mistakes. What does it mean? Does traditional dictation develop writing and listening? If the students had the chance to learn it by heart, they would reproduce it in class without the teacher, but they couldn’t use it. In fact, isolated random paragraphs from the textbook or individual words may have been remembered for the test but were unlikely to be retained for productive personalized use. This sort of dictation is based on mechanical repetition. In other words a traditional method will contain the following steps:
Read the whole text once. Students just listen. Read the text phrase by phrase slightly slower than normal speed, giving enough time to learners to write. Read the whole text at normal speed again. Give students time to check their work.
In this kind of dictation, the teacher should read or recite words, sentences or a text in some set patterns.The perceived benefit to the students is the development of decoding (listening) and recoding (spelling and grammar) skills, but the learners couldn’t use what they’ve memorized productively.
Farhady and Malekpour (1997) enumerate some of the shortcomings of dictation as:
-“The selection of words or sentences to be dictated is often biased, i.e., teachers often select difficult words and sentences with complex linguistic elements.” -“The focus of these activities is more on the spelling ability of language learners which has no direct relationship to students’ language ability.”Lado argued that dictation cannot tap the most important component of language, i.e., meaning.
To reduce the deficiencies of traditional dictation, some new strategies were given in the following. The aim of all of them is to assist learners using the language productively.
An alternative method is firstly reading a text (which is in a story form, for example) and asking the learners to listen to it. After listening they can write as many key words as they can. They should not be worry about writing a complete text. If you pick up:
1. Read the whole text once through at normal speed while learners listen. 2. Read it again at normal speed while learners noting the key words. 3. Have students in pairs compare their notes and attempt to reconstruct as much of the text as they can. 4. Repeat step 3. Pairs should be building up the text further. 5. Let one pair come up to the board and write what they have got. 6. Suggestions for any gap can be given by the rest of class.
In this procedure, the learners in different groups will discuss about every grammatical or lexical error and correct them. In this way, the text is not cut up unnaturally. It is in a story form and will not be used in unnatural speed. Besides learners listen for the whole text to gain the overall meaning and they can improve note-taking skills. In addition, they learn to collaborate with each other to complete the task. In other words, the groups are involved in constructing the text instead of reminding it. Both accuracy and meaning are important in this method. This procedure may be accompanied with some pictures, or real objects to convey the meaning more easily.
Brain Storming and Dictation
Brain storming is a really effective tool in learning a language. In dictation, it can be used to reinforceor introduce particular structures or topics or to provide general language practice. For example, theteacher can dictate the first paragraph of a story or an interesting text from a newspaper and ask learners to continue it. They can construct the story based on their ideas, emotions and creativity. Constructing a story will motivate learners to learn. Each sentence that was given by a pair or an individual will be written by all of the learners. After writing every sentence, the grammatical points and lexical selections will be discussed by the students. In this strategy the sentences of different learners can be compared with each other and the students can vote and select the better one for constructing an interesting story. Although it may take up to 30 minutes, it can assists learners to promote listening & constructing sentences meanwhile writing. Besides telling a story will attract their attention to learning.
Listen and Answer
The learners shouldn’t write what the teacher dictates to them. In spite they should write their own answers to what the teacher says. For example, when teacher says I forgot the marker”, the learner may write “I will bring it”. This circle can be continued and sometimes one of the learners can do teachers’ duty and dictate the other learners. It should be noted that learners in this activity are in intermediate level.
Farhady and Khany (1997) introduced trans-dictation (a combination of translation and dictation) to reduce the deficiencies of traditional dictation. In this procedure the teacher reads the text at normal speed while the learners are listening to it. Then the teacher read it again at normal speed and the students try to translate it (if they want, they can write their translations). Afterwards the learners should read their translations and try to write the dictation. Farhady and Khany believe that psycholinguistically, the transdictation is an improvement over both translation and dictation type tests and psychometrically, it proved to be a highly valid and reliable measure of language proficiency. They have stated that the procedure can have a positive backwash effect on classroom practices, because it taps those constructs that are fostered in students in communicative language teaching classrooms.
Correcting the Mistakes
In this method, the teacher will give the learners a written text accompanying some spelling or grammatical mistakes. Afterwards the teacher will read the text at normal speed and the students will follow it, looking at their texts. Then the teacher will read it at normal speed again while the learners are identifying the mistakes. At the end, time will be given to students to correct and check their papers. The more advanced the students, the more mistakes will be included in the text. After correcting the errors individually, the teacher can ask the learners to consult their papers in pairs. Totally, the groups will compare their papers and discuss about probable errors by other learners.
Cheating and Dictation
Teachers are successful, if they will be able to use even the negative activities like cheating in learning. Cheating is one of them which insults teachers all over the world. But if the teachers aim to, they can use its strength in learning. Learners tend to learn more for exam than for tests during teaching sessions in exam they need to learn to get mark, and they will try more, so the items of the test will be remembered more easily. In this procedure, the teacher reads an interesting story-like text, while learners are listening to it. Then he reads it and students write. Afterwards the teacher reads and they check. When all the learners checked their papers, the teacher asks the learners to open their books, consult with other learners and use every instrument or strategy to correct their mistakes. After consulting, the learners correct their papers by themselves. If there are some mistakes, they will be discussed and corrected. Up to the end of the dictation session, the teacher and learners discuss the problems which they had in the process of writing the dictation. In the next session, a similar dictation can be given to learners to check their progress.
Instead of the teacher dictating the text, there are some ways of taking the focus onto the learners. Using the students as the “dictators” has the benefit of focusing on learners’ pronunciation. One of the procedures is to distribute different parts of a text among the learners. Every student should dictate his own part and the other ones will write it. Afterwards the whole text will be given to the groups to be compared to their own texts. At the end, the discussion will be held to correct the mistakes and solve the problems.
Art and Dictation
This method involves and motivates the learners while learning. Firstly, the teacher dictates the text and the learners listen to it. The text is constructed in such a manner that the learners can draw some pictures about it. For example: “the teacher may say “there is a bird on the tree. The bird is yellow, …”. Secondly, the teacher reads the text slower and the learners will draw it. Then they work on their drawings while the teacher is monitoring them. Having completed the task, they will be distributed in groups to compare their pictures. Afterwards, one of the learners draws the picture on the board and the probable mistakes will be corrected. Then the students try to write what they see. Dictation will be corrected in groups. At the end a discussion session is held and the mistakes will be identified.
Cleaning – rewriting Procedure
In this procedure, the teacher reads a text at normal speed and all of the students listen. Then he read sit sentence by sentence, while one representative from each group writes it on the board (One sentence for each representative). After completing the text, the other members of each group should guide their leaders to correct the errors. The leader should clean the mistakes and write the correct forms. They should speak in English. Time limitation may be held to do the task by the teacher. At the end of the task, the mistakes will be identified and corrected by the teacher and the other learners. The fewer mistakes will determine the winner. Afterwards, all of the learners will sit down and write the text, when the teacher is dictating it again. The groups are responsible for correcting the papers.
Gaps and Dictation
In this method the teacher can rub out the words on a text and ask the students to work in pairs and fill the gaps. Or the class can be divided into two groups. A line will be drawn. Each group will stand on one side of the line. Then those whom they face will be their shouting dictation partners. One partner should shout the text and the other one should write. Then the text will compare with the original one in pairs.
Active v.s passive procedures
Dictation improves listening and comprehension skills and punctuation is realized by pauses in breathing, if presented in normal speed. If it is prepared as the language presented in real world, it will surely promote learners’ other skills such as writing , vocabulary, grammar, listening or even reading and speaking(for example when they are checking their texts in groups). If the teacher reads the text in normal speed, the learners will pay attention to the relationships between spelling and pronunciation. In these conditions, dictation can lead into oral communication activities. It will foster automaticity and unconscious thinking. And if it is done properly, it will maintain learners’ interest and motivation. If discussion sessions are held, learners can compare their outputs with an original text and with each other. By self-correction, it provides an immediate feedback. If it is done in groups, it can teach the learners how to work cooperatively and also they will learn in groups better than individually. If it is done in a competition form, learning will be facilitated. In fact if dictation is done actively in the normal language, it will help learners to better understand people in everyday life. But, when it is in a slower speed and in an artificial manner, the only benefit may be learning how to spell the words. When it isn’t occurred as it is in real or quasi-real situations, it will not lead to promoting proficiency skills. When it is presented passively (just the teacher reads and the learners write) sometimes no promotion will occur even in spelling. Dictation exercises that shift responsibility for interaction and correction to the students provide teachers with an effective means for teaching. Norris also believed that “if the students themselves are doing the dictating, the entire class is activated and the teacher is freed to walk around the classroom”. By having students write or draw something they can compare with an original text, Ur (1981) believes that:
1. It focuses and defines what the group has to do. 2. It provides a clear signal to the group that it has finished. 3. It provides a basis for feedback (either by the teacher or the students themselves through self-correction).
2.2 Different method of dictation using site and paper based
This course paper is an attempt to put a useful but now undervalued technique back into the language teaching activities. With regard to the teacher’s major function in language classrooms, i.e. feedback to students on their performance, by which students work through their individual errors, dictation offers great opportunities for increasing accurate and fluent command of the language through analyzing their work.
The participants in this study were secondary school students. Before dictation, the class activities included pair or small group discussions on theme. Discussions were usually followed by vocabulary exercises which included either new terms or expressions. As a rule, pre-dictation exercises involved matching words and their definitions and predicting the contents of the recording used for dictation. Post-dictation exercises involved checking comprehension, i.e. deciding whether statements are True or False, and checking the answers. Problematic passage areas were analyzed in pairs or small groups followed by individual examination of ones own writing by comparing it with the transcript of the original text. In the final stage, students gave feedback on their performance pointing out their specific difficulties. In other words, research methods included experimental dictation activities. For class dictations various online teaching materials was employed available at the language learning website
The advantages of this website are 1) they have been designed for language learning and teaching, 2) there is a great diversity of themes to choose from, and moreover, 3) there are readymade lesson plans and exercises for class activities, which is beneficial for busy teachers who might save time in preparation for language classes. It is important that the level and aims are formulated and there is a range of worksheets with comprehension questions, vocabulary matching exercises and grammar and language focus points. Many possible aspects of the themes are described, so teachers may simply adjust the online activities for their particular classroom including follow-up activities after students have listened to the recordings, have written dictations from these and self-corrected their written work.
Lists of dictated themes
The themes that were used for dictations from the http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish website for students were: 1) Drinking Laws, 2) Stress at Work, 3) Mobile Phones, 4) Social Business, 5) Cybercrime, 6) Obesity, 7) School Bullying in Japan, 8) Online Gambling, 9) Skinny Models, 10) Intermittent Explosive Disorder, 11) Women’s Constant Body Worries, 12) Internet Companies Try to Stop Spam.
Two texts were used as a research material which were taken from the students course book New Bridge to Success" as an instructional material for the eleventh grade high school. The name of the texts are "Rock&Roll the other text is called "Cinema or Theatre".
Analysis of the texts
Rock and Roll
In the 1950s, Rock and Roll hit the youth all over the world. Through this type of music, young people found a way of talking to express their philosophy of life. The most perfect example of course was Elvis Presley. The energy of his music made a real culture. For youngsters who didn’t want to grow up like their parents. They created their own style. In those days, teenagers used to wear handmade sandals, black sweaters, black berets and tight black pants. On the other hand, hippies in the 60s favoured longer styles, beards along the jaw line and horn-rimmed glasses.
Cinema or theatre
Cinema and theatre differ in some ways. For instance while theatre has been present since the earliest days of the antiquity. Cinema is a never form. Here are some people who give their opinions and preferences to compare cinema and theatre.
Although cinema is more popular, I prefer going to the theatre because it is more social and it’s nice to see people wearing smart clothes and make up while waiting in the foyer. I hate it when people talk loudly in the cinema, eat their popcorn and drink coke as if they are at home. But the people in the theatre are more respectful. I don’t know why though. I can’t see much difference between them and I can’t say like both of them.
There is a big difference between cinema and theatre. Cinema is livelier, more active and colourful. The action is infinitely faster when compared to theatre. You don’t just see actors and actresses on the stage but lots of locations on screen. Cinema uses technology a great deal and as far as I’m concerned cinema is number one.
Thus, teaching foreign language to students has following benefits:
1) Dictation helps improve short-term memory in the L2. 2) Dictation helps improve listening skills. 3) Pre-dictation synonym matching exercises help better performance in dictations. 4) Post-dictation true false exercises help check comprehension. 5) Self-checking of written dictations raises awareness of problem areas such as grammar, spelling, and punctuation. 6) Class dictations help notice my own mistakes in writing. 7) Pre-dictation and post-dictation exercises are beneficial for perfecting writing and listening skills.
The following conclusions have been drawn. First, class dictations are beneficial to students, as they help perfect listening and writing skills and raise awareness of problematic language areas. Second, class dictations are designed to create a friendly learning environment in which students collaborate in pairs or small groups. Third, dictation activities provide opportunities for each learner to compare her/his written work with a peer’s work. Fourth, post-dictation comprehension exercises proved beneficial, but pre-teaching vocabulary might be optional depending on the students’ general proficiency in language. Finally, self-checking of ones written work by comparing it with original transcripts of the dictated material allows students to assess their achievements individually. The major implication of this research for language practitioners is that employment of the dictation techniques in the language classroom is a creative diversification which might serve a number of aims such as writing practice and listening comprehension.
Dictation is a valuable language learning device that has been used for centuries. Its advantages are numerous. The most common is diagnosing grammatical errors. But in a way that it is used in foreign language classes, it cannot be so much helpful. It changed into a tool which just tests spelling ability. The teachers slow down the speed norm to assist learners to write or even they read the text word by word with unusual pauses. In fact it is presented in an artificial situation. Today at least in many foreign language classes, it is used just as spelling test, not as a beneficial instrument for teaching other skills. So this paper set out to discuss useful techniques which can revive the real aims at utilizing dictation as a tool in both testing and teaching. The study may guide teachers in conducting appropriate ways in using dictation in foreign/second language classrooms and can assist both teachers and learners in promoting language skills through proper use of dictation as a learning tool. It may be beneficial for language researchers, too and may direct them in conducting helpful studies about the effectiveness of different methods in using dictation as a significant instrument in learning/teaching a language. Although linguists have not completely understood how it facilitates language acquisition--it would be extremely difficult to isolate the language competencies that are employed--many have attested to its pedagogical value. One of the 20th century's most influential linguists, Leonard Bloomfield (1942), strongly endorsed the use of dictation as a learning device. Today, many methodologists are at least inclined to agree with Finocchiaro's (1969) summary of its value: "[Dictation] ensures attentive listening; it trains pupils to distinguish sounds; it helps fix concepts of punctuation; it enables pupils to learn to transfer oral sounds to written symbols; it helps to develop aural comprehension; and it assists in self-evaluation."
All in all, dictation is a useful and flexible activity. You can use it to introduce a new structure, to present the first paragraph of a text, to revise an area of vocabulary, to provide a summary of a reading or listening exercise and to provide practice in different areas of grammar. If dictation is carefully linked to the rest of the lesson and has a clear and unambiguous purpose, students will probably enjoy it. It is only when it is departmentalized and used as an end in itself that it will appear to be boring and a waste of time.
1. Alkire, S. 2002. Dictation as a Language Learning Device.The Internet TESL Journal, Vol. VIII, No. 3
2. Cook V. (1996). Second Language Learning and Language Teaching. London: Arnold, 228 p
3. Davis, P., and Rinvolucri, M. (2002). Dictation.New methods, New Possibilities.Cambridge University Press.
4. Fisher, M. C. (2001). Dictation: What and How Students Learn From It. AYMAT Individual Thesis/ SMAT IPP Collection. Paper: 458.
5. Lado, R. (1965). Memory Span As a Factor in Second Language Learning. IRAL, 3,2, pp123-129.
6. Myint, M. K. 1998. Dictatory: A New Method of Giving Dictation. English Teaching Forum.Vol. 36. No 1.
7. Using Dictation (2005).
8. Blanche, P. (2004). Using Dictation to teach pronunciation.Linguagem & Ensino, Vol7, No. 1 2004. (175-191).
9. Sawyer, J. O. and S. K. Silver. 1961, 1972.Dictation in language learning.
10. Jafarpur, A. and Yamini, M. (1993). Does practice with dictation improve language skill? System, 21, 359-369
11. Natalicio, D. S. (1979). Repetition and Dictation as Language Testing Techniques. The Modern Language
12. Journal, Volume 63, Issue 4, April.
13. Rahimi, M. (2008). Using Dictation to Improve Language Proficiency, Asian EFL Journal, Volume 10,
14. Issue 1. http://www.asian-efl-journal.com/March 08 mr.php
15. Campbell. (Eds.), Teaching English as a Second Language (pp. 223-229). San Francisco: McGrawHill.
16. Stansfield, C. (1985). A History of Dictation in Foreign Language Teaching and Testing. Modern Language Journal, 69(2), 121-12
17. Wilson, M. (2003). Discovery Listening Improving Perceptual Processing. ELT Journal, 57/4, p.335-343.
18. Morris, S. (1983). Dictation: A technique in Need of Reappraisal, ELT Journal, Volume 37/2, April.
19. Nation, I. S. O. (2009). Teaching ESL/EFL Listening and Speaking. New York: Routledge Publisher.
20. Olagboyega, K. W. (2008). The Effects of Dylexia on Language Acquisition and Development. Akita University Bulletin Paper, July 9. pp. 23-27. ISSN: 13457241.
21. Oller, J. (1971). Dictation as a device for testing foreign language proficiency. English Language Teaching, 25, 254-259
22. Oller, J. (1979). Language Tests at School. A Pragmatic Approach. London.
23. Richards, J. C., Schmidt, R. (2002). Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics, Third Edition, Pearson Education, England.
Benefits of Dictation
Dictation makes the students and the teacher aware of the students' comprehension errors--phonological, grammatical, or both. In English, typical errors include the frequent omissions of bound morphemes such as:
The -s plural
The -'s possessive
The -s third person singular
The -ed ending for regular past participles.
Dictation shows students the kinds of spelling errors they are prone to make.
Dictation gives students practice in comprehending and transcribing clear English prose. Note: I find this important because we have all encountered awkward sentences in textbooks that are not good models of English writing, or raise grammatical, syntactic, or semantic questions that are not the point of the exercise to begin with. One example from a rather famous source: "When you receive a request like that, you cannot fail to obey it." This was in a textbook for a pre-intermediate class and came without a footnote to aid the student.
Dictation gives students valuable practice in notetaking. ESL college students may already be in courses in which they must take notes of lectures delivered in English at normal speaking speed. While no one should take lecture notes that are exact transcriptions, learning to write spoken language quickly is an essential college skill.
Dictation gives practice in correct forms of speech. Note: We have all read student compositions with grammatically correct sentences that are not correct forms, for example She is a surgeon of hearts or He is a good cooker.
Dictation can help develop all four language skills in an integrative way.
Dictation helps to develop short-term memory. Students practice retaining meaningful phrases or whole sentences before writing them down.
Dictation can serve as an excellent review exercise.
Dictation is psychologically powerful and challenging.
Dictation fosters unconscious thinking in the new language.
If the students do well, dictation is motivating.
Dictation involves the whole class, no matter how large it is.
During and after the dictation, all students are active.
Correction can be done by the students
Dictation can be prepared for any level.
The students, as well as the teacher, can get instant feedback if desired.
Dictation can be administered quite effectively by an inexperienced teacher.
While dictating, the teacher can (in fact should) move about, giving individual attention.
Dictation exercises can pull the class together during the valuable first minutes of class.
Dictation can provide access to interesting texts.
Knowing how to take dictation is a skill with "real world" applications. Many jobs demand accurate understanding of spoken orders (phone agents, dispatchers, administrative assistants, etc.). Also, the U.S. citizenship exam requires examinees to take a dictation.
Dictation can be a good indicator of overall language ability. (For its use in testing, the research of John W. Oller, Jr. is particularly useful.)