How Do You Write Dictation in English?

19 April 2021
SpellQuiz

Writing dictation exercises is one of the best tools for teaching English spelling. Being a multisensory activity, students can develop their — listening, writing, and reading skills — all the same time.

However, vocabulary dictation or spelling dictation might be a daunting challenge for younger kids and ESL learners.

Why?

Because the students have to multitask and perform the following micro-activities —  

  • Listen to the dictated sentence WITH ACCURACY
  • Chunk the sentence into smaller parts in the head
  • Retain the complete sentence in short-term memory until writing it
  • Write it down, QUICKLY, with correct spelling
  • Use proper capitalization and punctuation
  • Proofread the sentence again

As you can see, writing dictation takes a lot of effort. Also, the time limit pressurizes the learners heavily because they need to write the sentences quickly before the instructor moves on to the next sentence.

This brings us to the topic of the day — how do you write dictation in English, fluently?

To improve the quality of learning, the learner and the instructor must be on the same page. If a learner struggles badly, it’s better to practice dictation in a personalized session.

 So, this guide will talk about a step-by-step process of how a parent (instructor) can improve the performance of her child’s (learner) writing dictation exercises.

 

How to PREPARE Your Child for Dictation Exercises?

One of the major mistakes that parents make is that they throw their child at practicing dictation without preparing them. A better preparation stage can make all the differences here.

So, how do you prepare your child?

First, start with oral dictations.

The idea behind oral dictations is simple — you’ll slowly speak a sentence and ask your child to repeat it orally.

Initially, you should start with shorter sentences that are three to four words long. For example, these sentences are ideal for beginners’ lessons —

He went home.

I love mango.

She is sad.

As you can see, the dictation examples in the above sentences are not longer than three words. Plus, the words are mostly monosyllabic or sometimes bisyllabic.

The oral dictation lessons help the children to grasp the overall idea behind the exercise and build a solid foundation for listening skills.

After they have mastered this stage, you can increase the number of words in the sentences. It will improve their short-term memory retention ability. Also, their working vocabulary will expand drastically.

Now, you can increase the difficulty level by using the following dictation examples —

He went home after the party.

I love eating ripe mangoes.

She is sad as she lost the game.

Once your child feels comfortable with the oral dictation, you should move on to writing dictation exercises. However, you should again start small and slowly build up.

So, rather than moving on to complete sentence dictations, you should begin with spelling dictations. Simply, ask her to write words as you speak them up loudly.

For example, ask her to be ready with the pencil and paper and speak —

My

Girl

Party

Mango

Once she has mastered this level, you can move on to the main dictation English practice.

 

A Step-by-Step Guide for Vocabulary Dictation

Many think that vocabulary dictation is nothing but multitasking. This is a misleading idea as you can easily break the whole process into a few microtasks. Then, help your child have a complete grasp over the algorithm!

Pretty soon, it will become a habit and work similarly to muscle memory.

So, what are the steps of vocabulary dictation?

Follow this simple sequence —

 

Step-1: Speak Out the Sentence, Slowly

Of course, the process of dictation starts with the speaking out of the sentence. Formally, this step is called — “dictating the sentence.”

However, as your kid is only getting familiar with the process, you should dictate the sentence very slowly. Your pronunciation should be clean. Also, give a slight pause after speaking every word.

Avoid using a rhythmic or a flowing tone.

For example, don’t say — “I went to the market.” — in one breath. Say it like this — “I (pause) WENT (pause) TO (pause) THE (pause) MARKET.”

Be loud and clear!

And, most importantly, pause after speaking out every word.

 

Step-2: Your Child Performs an Oral Dictation

You’ve already spoken the dictating sentence. Shouldn’t your child rush and start writing the sentence as soon as possible?

NO!

Rather, she should speak out sentence herself.

By repeating the sentence orally, she is essentially storing the sentence in her short-term memory for a longer period. It is one of the effective memorizing technique.

Plus, she has already practiced oral dictation before. So, this step will be quite easy and familiar to her.

 

Step-3: Write Dictation in English

Finally, she has reached the main step! This step is pretty self-explanatory — she will write the dictating sentence.

Don’t rush her.

She’ll likely face some of these common hurdles —

  • Failure to understand a word
  • Introduction to a new word for the first time
  • Guessing the spelling of an unknown word
  • Forgetting the spelling of a known word
  • Misspelling a known/unknown word
  • Making capitalization errors
  • Making punctuation errors

As you can see, this step quite challenging. Give her enough time!

 

Step-4: Ask Her to Proofread

This step is crucial yet people often skip it out! You should urge her to proofread the written sentence.

Ask her to look for —

  • Spelling mistakes
  • Capitalization mistakes
  • Skipped words
  • Punctuation errors

This proofreading step also improves her reading skills and helps her omit to make obvious mistakes.

 

Step-5: Move on to the Next Sentence

Dictation sessions will bring in the highest result, you continue the sessions for a longer period. But don’t make it too long as it would burn her out and she would less likely participate in the dictation practices.

Start with 5 sentences in the initial phase, then gradually increase the sentence number. Once she feels comfortable, you can move on to the time-based sessions.

 

The Hidden Step (Only for the Instructor): Evaluation

Dictation practices will only bear fruits if you evaluate the process. You should track the progress and emphasize these parameters —

  • Total spelling mistakes,
  • Punctuation and spelling mistakes
  • Hours practiced
  • New words learned

These parameters will help you re-evaluate the teaching process. At the same time, you can understand whether it’s time to introduce them to new words and broaden up their vocabulary.

 

Don’t Have Enough Time for Dictation Practices? There’s a Full-Poof Solution!

Parents don’t always have the time to participate the dictation practices — this is the harsh truth. It doesn’t mean that the parents don’t want to spend time, the fact says that they can’t.

So, the question is — how can parents with a busy life help their children with dictation practices?

The best possible solution is — English dictation app!

There are a number of great dictation apps online that can simulate the same dictation practicing guideline that we’ve discussed earlier.

For example, let’s talk about SpellQuiz’s spelling tests. This online platform has grade-wise spelling lessons catered towards the needs of a first grader to the twelfth grader.

spelling training

Once a participant enters the UI, they can see a “play” button and a textbox just below it. After pressing the play button, he/she can hear a voice slowly and clearly speaking out the sentence.

writing dictation exercises

Unlike most other English dictation apps, SpellQuiz uses audio created by real native English speaking voice artists. This far superior to the computer-generated audio that fails to teach the proper pronunciation.

After hearing the sentence, the participant should type in the sentence in the textbox below. To help with the process, the audio is repeated a second time at a slower tempo.

writing dictation exercises

As soon as the participant has finished typing the sentence, he/she should press the “Enter” button. The tool will automatically display whether he/she has successfully written the sentence or not.

Plus, it will also mark the mistakes if there is any.

writing dictation exercises

As for progress tracking, SpellQuiz keeps track of —

  • Exercises attempted
  • Exercises completed
  • Total time spent
  • Smart Score (a percentage-based scoring system that based on the number of mastered and non-mastered words)
  • Mastered words in a session
  • Non-mastered words in a session
  • Total mastered words of a particular participant

Also, all of these pieces of information are stored in the results section.

writing dictation exercises

writing dictation exercises

Final Words

By this time, you should have a clear idea about how to write a dictation. As dictation is quite a hard challenge for children, you should have patience and always be supportive.

It’s also a great idea to motivate them with a positive attitude. You could even create a reward system so that your child feels encouraged to participate in the dictation practice session.  

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