Category Archives: In the Computer Room

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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Conversation Starters: An Interesting Site to Help you with the Speaking Test.

“I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy – I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it.” Art Williams

Of all the parts in the English exam  my students, without a single doubt, fear the speaking test  the most.

Oral exams require lots of study and preparation. Don’t dream for a minute of taking this exam without putting  some real elbow grease into it. It’s only the very skilled ones who feel at ease while facing a board of two or three teachers asking questions and taking notes.

Very often my students feel frustrated by their inability to react to questions; they mention things such as their mind going blank, panicking, having absolutely nothing to say on the issue, words not coming etc. While it is true that in an oral test you have to think on your feet  and some students don’t have this ability, it is also true  that, very often,  you know  or can guess what  topics you can expect  in the exam (  they are quite a few, yes, I know 🙂 ) so before the test, why don’t you  practise  how you would  answer some questions and see what vocabulary you need to study ?. If you do it, you’ll be absolutely fine!

So, my nothing-to-write-home-about tips

♥ Write a list of all the topics in the exam

♥Think of some questions you might be asked for each topic

♥ Study relevant vocabulary to talk about these topics. If you are talking about Technology, you might want to use the expression” keep in touch” or the word “gadget”

♥ Practise how you would answer these questions

♥ Record yourself

♥ Concentration during the speaking test is essential.

♥ Be positive. “Believe you can, and you’re halfway there”

To help you prepare for this part of the exam, I am going to share with you a nice site to practise your responses to questions you might be asked in the test. The site is called Conversationstarters .com  and it generates random questions for different topics. So, click the button and start practising!!

 

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