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Dictogloss Examined

Dictogloss is an adaptation to the traditional practice of giving students a dictation as a form of listening and combined writing practice or a form of assessment.

It is an activity that can integrate listening, speaking, and writing skills and enables students to develop coping strategies that help them to become more fluent listeners.

A dictogloss can also be used to teach grammar communicatively.

Top-down Processing – Dictogloss

“Pens down.”  This is the first essential instruction needed to do a dictogloss with your students. Students must at first only listen and try to understand what is being said.

We want them to hear longer pieces of spoken text so that they learn to listen holistically. We are not concerned with students getting word for word of a text accurately copied.

We want them to listen globally, for overall meaning and to reformulate what they heard.  We are developing the ability to cope with rapid native speech. We are training them now to ignore the small insignificant words and focus only on the words that impart meaning.

Reconstruction of a Text – Dictogloss

The dictogloss can then lead to a speaking or writing activity. Students can listen again and take notes or they can work together to reconstruct what they heard first by discussing the passage together.

They might write out what they believe the main ideas were, noting key content words and reconstructing the meaning of the passage.

Further discussion or writing prompts can be given to extending communication on the same topic or students might be asked to share personal anecdotes related to a similar theme.

Incorporating a Grammatical Focus – Dictogloss

A dictogloss can also be used to introduce or review a grammatical form and function. After the initial  “pens down”  listening to a passage that incorporates a specific grammatical feature, we can give students guided questions that relate to that target grammatical form and function.

When working together in pairs or small groups, we ask them to reformulate specific constructions and work out the grammar without the grammar being taught to them. The form might not be exact and they may well use other forms to express the same function.

They will be teaching themselves through experimentation that different forms can be used to express the same function.

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Related Articles:

Assessing Listening Skills and Spelling with Dictation

Integrating Skills Through a Group Dictation

Testing ESL Students: Preparing Grammar and Vocabulary Tests

Writing Effective Tests for ESL Students

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