Dictogloss is a type of supported dictation that integrates the four skills of language learning. It can be used in a subject learning context at all levels from 8-11 to 16-18. Dictogloss is easy for the teacher to prepare and set up and is a very effective language learning tool as it requires learners to listen, talk, collaborate, take notes, redraft and present orally.
The principle of dictogloss is that the teacher reads a short, prepared topic-based text several times and the learners try to produce their own version as close to the original as possible.
The ideal dictogloss text is at a language level slightly above that of the learners, but with familiar subject content. It may introduce some new vocabulary or sentence structures.
Types of activities using dictogloss
- Dictogloss is really good for mixed-ability classes in any subject. The collaborative nature of the activity means that EAL beginners can be paired with more fluent peers and hear good models of English.
- The text chosen should not be more than a paragraph at first until learners become more familiar with the activity and improve their listening skills.
- Dictogloss works well in all subjects and at all levels including advanced levels for the 16 to 18 age range. It is particularly good for introducing EAL learners to more advanced language patterns that they may not comfortably use in their own writing.
- A dictogloss lesson works well when supported with key visuals, pictures or even graphs and charts. Writing about graphical information in subjects such as science and economics is difficult for EAL learners and this strategy can help with the more complex sentence structures.
Practical ideas for using dictogloss
- Top tip: Use dictogloss to encourage learners to use more advanced vocabulary and sentence structures
- To consider: Give newer or younger EAL learners help with spelling subject-specific vocabulary
What to do:
- The teacher reads a short text on a familiar topic at normal speed.
- The learners listen and take notes.
- The teacher repeats the reading, after writing new subject vocabulary on the board to help newer EAL learners.
- The learners form pairs and share their notes.
- The teacher reads the text a final time at normal speed.
- The learner pairs form fours to produce a final written version of the text. The aim is to get as close to the original as possible.
Good for EAL, Good for All: Can I use dictogloss with the whole class?
Yes. Dictogloss is designed for whole class teaching. It can be differentiated by putting learners in different pairs or groups.