Four Excellent Sites for Online Dictations

Oh boy. Does it bring back memories!
Dictations! To be completely honest with you, I have mixed feeling as regards dictations. I remember back in primary school when the language teacher gave us lots of dictations like a well- deserved break after a tough grammar lesson; and then, this feeling of “I don’t want to ever hear the word dictation again” that I got from my classes at university where the teacher gave us one-page-long dictations so quickly that when he finished, he was panting for breath and we were seeing red.

Although doing dictations is somewhat regarded as an old-fashioned technique, it is undeniable that a lot of benefits can be derived from doing this exercise. In fact, it is an integrative activity requiring the use of various skills like listening, writing and reading -when you read the passage you have written, looking for grammar or spelling mistakes. You might even add speaking if the dictation is used as a prompt to encourage discussion of the passage.

In case you are not fully convinced that dictations also have their place in the twenty-first century classroom, here are some more benefits you might want to consider:
• It improves spelling.
• It improves recognition of grammatically correct sentences.
• It helps students distinguish sounds in continuous speech.
• It improves students’ awareness of punctuation.
• It gives students practice in comprehending and helps them gain fluency in writing.

If I have managed to convince you, here are some links to online dictations you might want to try or if you are a teacher, heartily recommend to your students.

Dictations  Online.

This site specializes in dictations and although it is free, you can sign in to do more dictations or keep track of your score  and view your score history. They are graded from elementary to advanced.

The students hear the dictation four times

  • The first time, the whole passage is read at normal speed to listen for gist.
  • The  second time, each phrase is read slowly twice, with punctuation.
  • Then the whole passage is read again to check your work.
  • And finally, the written text is shown  for you to see  your mistakes.

Englishclub.

I like the site. It is very user-friendly. The dictations are graded going from Elementary, with short recordings of one or two phrases, to Advanced with recordings of one or two paragraphs.

Learn English free

This site features two levels: elementary and intermediate. It has a very clean interface where you’ll see two recording of the same dictation. One recorded at a normal speed and the other one at a slow speed with pauses to give you time to write down what you hear. You only need to follow the instructions.

ESL: English as a Second Language

Aimed at Intermediate and Upper-intermediate students, this site offers an amazing numbers of dictations

Do you like these sites or would you rather create your own dictations? Here are two online free tools to convert text to speech.

VOKI

SLIDETALK

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8 thoughts on “Four Excellent Sites for Online Dictations

  1. Rubbish.
    The kids get bored, nothing sinks in, so the lesson is wasted.
    I’ll NEVER do dictation in class, no matter how many people assure me it’s wonderful.

    Reading books they enjoy looks after the grammar and a decent conversation teacher sorts out the rest, all without the need to waste time and a rainforest to write down pointless rubbish.

  2. Hi Paul
    Thanks for your comment.
    I don’t ususally do dictations in class but when I do, I don’t really get the impression they get bored. As with everything in life if you do it every single day, then students are likely to get bored; but, as you suggested in your comment, a decent teacher would surely know how to vary the activities to get the most of his students.
    Anyway, the blog post focused on online dictations.
    Thanks again!

  3. Hi Paul,
    I agree that listening to the teacher drone on for a long time while students copy down exactly what they say may be a waste of time, but I think dictations in class can be very useful if they are student-centred in some way.
    One of the most popular activities in my classroom is the running dictation: https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/running-dictation Through it, students practise reading, writing, listening and speaking skills, they get up out of their seats, there is an element of competition and it helps me to see which areas of the language they are still having trouble with. It’s important to check instructions carefully and to ensure that the furniture is set up in such a way that there won’t be any accidents.
    Another alternative is the ‘dictogloss’ https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/dictogloss which encourages discussion of the text and helps students to notice gaps in their own language.
    As a language learner, I like to do the occasional dictation at home because I notice bits of grammar I still make mistakes with or new items of vocabulary which I haven’t seen before.
    Thanks for this Cristina.
    Sandy

  4. Hi Sandy
    Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment!

    I’m not a big fan of dictations, but I find students like to do them from time to time. As the old saying goes “Variety is the mother of enjoyment”
    I believe that if you give students meaningful tasks and explain to them the aim of the exercise and what they are going to achieve by doing it then ,students would see the exercise (in this case, the dictation) from another perspective. If you add the competitive element, as in the running dictation, then they would not only do it without complaining, they would ask for it.

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