Running Dictation ESL Writing Activity

Have you ever tried doing a running dictation in your English classroom?

This ESL writing activity will also help students elevate their listening, speaking, and reading skills. It is a great collaborative activity for pairs and group work.

Student Level: Intermediate, Advanced

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Age Group: Kids, Adults

Running Dictation ESL Activity

Running Dictation ESL Activity Preparation:

Before class, prepare a short paragraph that matches the students’ skill level. Also, try to find a text that relates to their interests.

For instance, select a paragraph from a short story or a clip from a news article.

Make copies of the text to match approximately half of the total number of students in your class.

Running Dictation ESL Activity Guidelines:

Before doing the activity, you may want to begin the class with a short discussion relating to the topic of the text that you selected. This will activate students’ background knowledge on the subject and help with language acquisition.

Model the task for the class. Select one student volunteer to be your partner.

First, stick the text that you prepared on the wall.

Then, have the student come up to the front of the class and give him/her the board marker.

Next, walk (or run) to the text on the wall and read it intently. After reading, walk over to the student and try to dictate the first sentence from the text (without looking at it).

The student should try to write what you say on the board as accurately as possible.

After he or she finishes writing, go back to the text and read it (silently) again. Try to remember the second sentence in the paragraph.

Return to the student and dictate the second sentence. The student writes again.

Finally, do some quick feedback and help the student fix any writing errors with spelling, punctuation, and grammar.

Now, the class should have a good understanding of how to complete the task.

Stick the other copies of the text on the wall and put the students into pairs.

The students must complete the same running dictation with their partner. They can switch from writing and reading roles halfway through the text. As they perform the task, monitor the class and help with difficulties.

At the end of the activity, highlight common errors in their writing and/or pronunciation.

Follow-Up ESL Activities:

To conclude the lesson, you could try a fun vocabulary game that relates to the text. The Comparatives ESL Game and Word Chain Game are great for all ages.

More ESL Writing Activities for Kids and Adults:

View the writing activities archive.

View more ESL activities.

Related ESL Resources Online:

Running Dictation on TESOL.org

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