One of my favorite activities of all time that I only do about once a semester is DICTATION. I’ve used this activity with my Spanish Heritage classes to work on spelling, and it can benefit second language learners as well. The activity is an opportunity for students to listen to Spanish and write what they hear IN SPANISH. Then, they have a chance to identify spelling errors. It is also a chance for me to sneak in a few notes about phonetics and syntax. I know, I KNOW all the research about reading influencing these elements of language, but let me tell you, if you have any 4%-ers (i.e. students interested in grammar, phonetics, etc.), they are going to LOVE this activity. For the rest of your students, it is an AMAZING opportunity for them to learn from their misconceptions. Even some of my students with learning disabilities were able to feel successful doing this activity in class because they sounded out words correctly! Also, I try to include words in more than one sentence, so once they’ve written it correctly one time, their paper becomes a resource for them to use later on, thus instilling the concept to USE YOUR RESOURCES.
Here’s the gist of dictation:
After working with vocabulary for a while (TPR, PQA) and telling a class story (TPRS-style), I like to do a reading-based activity and another activity related to the story. There are tons of ideas out there for this “other activity” (story strips, running dictation, etc.) and dictation is one of them!
- Using my “Autor” notebook (I assign this to a student each class to write notes in either Spanish or English about the story/PQA/whatever we’re doing. It helps my tired, old brain to remember class stories AND it helps the fast processing student to stay engaged in the class!), I write up 12 of my sentences in a Word doc nice and big like this example. I also print these sentences so that I can have them on my clipboard during the activity.
- I hand this page out to students in class, and IN TARGET LANGUAGE ask them to get out the paper, 1 pencil and 1 colored pen (I have a class set of colored pens available). I have a deskless classroom, so on this day I chose to set up my foldable tables. It’s a little change of scenery and pace, which adds NOVELTY to the classroom.
- Very dramatically (in the TL), I ask students to grab their pencil and write their name and the title of the story on the lines provided. I model this on the document camera. Then, I explain that I am going to read a sentence and show on the doc cam where they should write the first sentence. (The first time I do dictation, I explain that this is a listening activity. I remind them to write what they hear, not to translate! I also explain that I don’t care if they get the sentence correct the first time, in pencil, but I do care that they correct mistakes in pen if it wasn’t right the first time. This activity is about the PROCESS not the PRODUCT!)
- Without revealing the 1st sentence on the board yet, I read it to them repeating each part of the sentence multiple times until students have finished writing it in pencil.
- I very dramatically ask student to put down their pencil and pick up their pen. Then, I reveal sentence 1 on the Promethean board. I model correcting spelling errors in pen using the sentence on the board and ask students to do the same.
- We continue with this process for about 20-25 minutes (we got through anywhere from 5-8 sentences depending on the period. I don’t worry about finishing all 12!). During the process, I ask them to grab the opposite writing utensil to show me that they’re ready for the next step. Students who are very fast writers can work on the homework piece of this activity as well, which is to translate and/or illustrate the sentences in the box. I walk around the room the entire time to help and encourage. Students LOOOOOVE to tell me when they get a sentence perfect the first time!! I let them know that when this happens, they can give themselves a star. It is soooo fun to see a student who sometimes struggles get a sentence correct and want to tell me!
I did dictation in both Spanish 1a and Spanish 2 on Monday, and many of the students finished the homework portion of this work in class.
On Tuesday, I did a follow up activity. Instead of our normal 5 minutes of Lectura Libre (Free Reading), I asked students to read their class story instead and answer questions. I did this as a Google Form which is amazing because of the instant data!!! Here’s an example of one. This was awesome because I had already written the 12 sentences, so it took very little effort to turn the sentences into a short reading! I love the repetition of the vocab, low-ish level of prep, and novelty of this lesson!!