Variations on dictations

finger on it

This week I am working on dictations with my different groups, and I thought I would share a couple of ways I have found to make them a bit more interesting, both for the students and for myself.




With my more advanced groups, I am using a dictogloss, rather than a traditional dictation. The teacher divides the group in half, and sets one half some work to do outside the classroom. This week I had them preparing a presentation on a famous person. Meanwhile, the teacher does the dictogloss with the other half of the group. This exercise consists in reading a text to the students three times at normal reading speed. During the first two readings, the students listen, and after each reading they are given time to write what they remember. During the third reading they are allowed to write, so that they can check and complete their texts. After this they should be given some time in pairs or groups of three to check their work with each other. This usually leads to some interesting discussions on grammar and structure as they access what they know in order to reconstruct the text.


The other half of the group is then brought back into the class, and each one is paired with someone who has done the dictogloss. These then dictate the text they received as a dictogloss to their partners (this is done as a normal dictation rather than as a dictogloss). Finally, the teacher collects the resulting dictation, and then projects the original text so that they can check their own answers.


In this video, you will see Dave Spencer from Macmillan doing a dictogloss exercise with a group of students.



Jigsaw dictation


With my less-advanced students, I am doing a variation of a running dictation. Before the class, I copy a text of a level which the students will find relatively easy, but I place the sentences in a different order. The disorganized text is pinned on the wall. The class is divided into teams of three or four. One member of each team goes to the text and memorises the first part before going back to his / her team and dictating it to them. The second member of the team then goes to the text and memorises the next part and so on. While the second member of the team is at the text, the first member of the team writes down what s/he has just dictated, so that everyone in the team has a complete text.


Once the team has dictated the whole text, they must decide the correct order for the sentences, writing a clean copy of the text. This can be treated as a race, or each team can simply read out their version of the completed text at the end of the class before the teacher projects the original text for them to check their work.


Here is a video with other ideas for organising a running dictation.



For an extension activity for running dictations, particularly for younger students, click here.


TESOL Greece Summer Event in Nafplio

TESOL Greece Blog

This year TESOL Greece supports Greece and its wonderful destinations and it is proud to announce a day trip to Nafplio with Christina Bakopoulou as a speaker. Find more info at our flyer

Join the event on facebook:


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English spelling is terrible. Other languages are worse. – The Week

Here’s a great article by James Harbeck on The Week, which probably won’t console those who are suffering with English spelling too much.


Real Beauty | Film English

Another great lesson plan from Film-English. Thanks as always to Kieran Donaghy.

See another of Kieran’s film-based lesson plans here.

For other video-based ideas click below:

Article: How to ‘demand high’ | Liverpool Online

In this post, Jim Scrivener explains the proposal for ‘demand high’ ELT he has made with Adrian Underhill at last month’s IATEFL Conference in Liverpool. We have already examined ‘Demand High’ in a previous post, ‘Demand high ELT – an interesting challenge‘.

To watch an interview with Jim Scrivener, click here.

Blended Learning (II)


In my previous post I looked at possible definitions of blended learning. Having seen what it is, or at least some of the possibilities, in this post I would like to share some of my sources which refer to the advantages of blended learning.

One of the advantages which are attributed to blended learning is that it frees up classroom time for more creative, cooperative exercises, with the basic learning input which is needed, the building blocks as it were, being provided online. Here is a video from the Khan Academy, pioneers in this form of learning, in which the founder, Salman Khan, explains this:

Terry Heick describes 4 benefits of blended learning in his article on the Teach Thought. blog. For Heick, The benefits of taking online and face-to-face classes are linked to a students employability after college. For example, online and face-to-face classes emphasise different aspects of effective communication, all of which are important in the increasingly globalised business world. Also, being able to follow an online course demonstrates that a student has the digital fluency necessary to function professionally, and that s/he has the self-discipline necessary to work autonomously.

The University of Central Florida offers a Blended Learning Toolkit online, which suggests that the benefits of blended learning are that it can be used to breathe new life into established courses by incorporating different forms of interaction into the class, introduces the advantages of an online course without losing the social interaction element of a traditional classroom which is difficult to achieve online, and from an administrative point of view, can free up much-needed classroom space.


Finally, I must mention Thomas Stanley’s series of posts, again on Teach Thought, which examines the different interactions within a blended leaning model of education. The first post in the series looks at possible ways of setting up a blended learning course, suggesting that the online element could introduce the real world into the classroom, allowing students to use that element to enhance their class projects, engaging the students far more than more traditional approaches. In the second part, Stanley focuses on student to student interaction within a blended learning context, examining how this can be realised using both synchronous and asynchronous online tools.

Photo attribution Flickr user flickeringbrad

In part three, Stanley looks at the role of the teacher in a blended learning model, suggesting a shift in that role from providing instruction to accompanying students as they learn, a ‘guide by the side’. This is a result of the more inquiry-based learning approach suggeted in part one of this series. This approach allows for more individual tutoring from the teacher for each student as they work through the programme of inquiry designed by the teacher, enabling him / her to evaluate the thinking process of the students more closely. The teacher is also responsible for suggesting resources which the students can use and guiding them in their inquiry, and in their evaluation of their progress.

Further posts in this series will be available soon at

Call for Papers – XXX Jornadas TEA


The Association of English Teachers in the Canaries has just published their call for papers for their 30th Annual Conference, which this year will take place 14th – 16th November in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.

To celebrate their 30th anniversary, they have curated a Scoop It! page with different speakers who have presented at the TEA conference over the years, which you can see here.

For information about last year’s conference, in Tenerife, visit my page here.

I hope to see you there!

Sociedad Canaria de Profesorado de Ingles (TEA) | SPEAKERS in TEA through the years |

Blended Learning (I)


Over the last few days I have been looking into the topic of blended learning, and I thought I would share some of the sources which I have found useful in my research.

To begin with, we should have some definition of what blended learning is. Here is a video from Education Elements on You Tube which explains what blended learning is:

In a previous post we looked at an infographic of the flipped classroom. And here is a more detailed definition from Terry Heick, on . Blended learning has many names: the flipped classroom, hybrid learning, blended education… Basically it is the combination of traditional classroom instruction with online elements designed to enhance the learning experience for the students (and hopefully for the teacher). This goes beyond uploading a video for the students to watch at home; the integration of online material into the learning environment should be carefully planned and ‘pedagogically valuable’ (Heick).

Obviously, wth such a definition, there is a wide range of interpretations of what blended learning should look like. Here is an infographic, again from Teach Thought, which explores six different types of blended learning:

In the next post, Blended Learning (II), we will examine some sources which explain the advantages of blended learning as opposed to traditional face-to-face instruction.