Distance Dictation (sometimes known as Energy Dictation) is great for a young class who need to work off some energy. It involves all the skills: reading, speaking, listening and writing and with an added element of competition it’s a good all round activity for the class.
As with all dictations, find a text of suitable length and content for your class. This means it should be just above their level, and interesting to them. Print out three or four copies of the text in a large font so that when you pin it to the wall it can easily be read by several students gathered around it.
In class you can write up the title of the first text on the board and with the class have a quick discussion about it. This helps in several ways, not least by introducing the class to the subject of the text and getting them to speculate about what kind of content they might come across.
For example, suppose you have a text which outlines the plot of the new James Bond film. Your class will come up with ideas and vocabulary which may well be found in the text:
- secret agent
- car chase
and so on. At this stage you can also write up any proper nouns which could prove difficult to the class.
Running the Activity
Put the class into pairs with a sheet of paper and 1 pen between them.
Pin the text outside the classroom some distance away (e.g. on the wall of the corridor or in an empty classroom down the hall or out in the playground). The first student from each pair needs to read a line of the text and then rush back to the paper and write it down. While they’re writing their partner runs off to the get the next line which they’ll write down when they return.
Each pair carries on like this until they’ve finished the text which they can bring to you to check. If there’s a mistake, don’t correct it but have them rush back to the original to find where the error lies – and of course, their version must never leave the classroom!
Variations on a Theme
Try the activity using the lyrics of a song. After the class have done what they can with the running/writing you can play the song so they can hear what they’ve written.
Dictation in English Language Teaching– a look at the way dictation can be used effectively; it’s not all boring and useless!