Dictation Detail

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15 thoughts on “Dictation Detail”

  1. Thanks for this! I have not been doing the punctuation. Oops. But this will be a new exciting little addition to the dictee. My kids love dictee anyway, so I think they will love knowing the punctuation. It’s also new learning for me, as I tend not to pay much attention to punctuation, and if truth be told I realized today that I never really learned these words myself. When I asked my dept head and she rattled them off, I recognized them immediately, but I swear I never learned these explicitly. I never had enough “official” French classes to have learned this stuff, yet I knew them anyway…CI? Kinda cool.

  2. I remember when I first introduced the classic form of French dictée* to the TPRS community about ten years ago it was met by the purists as not enough input. These were the experts telling me not to do it more than 10 min. per week. I always felt its input value, and now I am glad I am still pushing it. As you say, the kids love it, it eats up huge minutes, and it really is input. I love to connect an end of class dictée to an earlier in class reading class. It just works really well.

    *with apologies to the French people if I didn’t get it completely straight at the University of Strasbourg all those years ago.

  3. I’m not sure whether or not you’ve said that in the classic dictéé, you only give the punctuation during the second reading. I was in first year French in high school when I learned how important that is. My teacher had chosen me to go to a regional French contest, which was, (guess what!) a dictée. (yes, I was a 4%er) Up until then I had never heard anyone other than my teacher speak French and she was a woman. This man, This Authentic French Man, stood up and read the dictée. First reading I understood absolutely nothing. Second reading I noticed that he kept saying “il pleut”. So my paper had quite a few “il pleuts” separated by dotted lines. The third reading he did not say il pleut a single time, and I realized my mistake. So I erased all my “il pleuts” and handed in a paper with a lot of commas (virgule) separated by dotted lines.

  4. Yes, you learned the hard way. It’s funny when it hits the kids not to write out the words for comma, etc.

    And, yes, the grace and beauty of properly paced dictée can only happen without any reference to punctuation in the first and third readings of the sentence. The first and third readings must occur at normal speed with no interruption while the kids listen the first time and inspect their writing the third time, with punctuation only given the second time.

    I don’t know if other countries take dictée as seriously as the French do – I don’t think so – it is one of the great gifts of France to education, in my opinion.

    When teachers really get the awesome form of the classic form of French dictée and they see it’s power in their classrooms, they invariably incorporate it into their CI teaching routine, and it makes their lives so much easier.

    Our biggest problem as we stand drooling at the Smorgasbord Table that is TPRS/CI is choosing what to take from the table. That is why the theme of simplicity is so key in my mind this year in our group discussion.

    I am sure of one thing, and that is that dictée will always be part of my weekly TPRS/CI routine. I’m glad I didn’t minimize it’s use when told to do so by the experts years ago.

  5. How soon in the year would you begin using Dictée for a French 1 class or for a French 2 class that has never done this before? Week 1? Week 4? Thank you.
    P.S. I’m having trouble finding a thread to check for answers, comments. Is there any type of email notification for new messages?

    1. Sabrina Janczak

      Hi Shari,

      In my opinion you can start dictée any time you want. if you follow Ben’s format, they write what they hear on the first line, and on the second line they copy from the board the correct version. I wish I had had that break when I was a kid, we had dictées everyday and no second line with correct version , everything wrong was taken out.
      Since for our kids the first line doesn’t count, who cares. The kids love knowing they can get an A just by copying but I find that even that (copying) is hard as they still miss stuff. That ‘s OK. It takes time to train them and patience is key. You’ll have to repeat the directions over and over until they get it. And don’t forget to teach them punctuation in the language, they totally get it after a while. I do dictées from the stories we build so they are familiar with stories/structures so it’s never something they haven’t heard tons already. And it is very important that they remain quiet because when you dictate, they can attend to meaning (since it s familiar) and bind it to form (correct way) once they copy it and it s another form of CI and another level of repetition .
      I find that at first they don’t like it because old fashion writing (a skill that is slowly disappearing, ) is difficult for them but over time they ‘ll do whatever you ask them. I find that for some students their writing improves over time. I ask them if it helps and most say yes ( they could be lying but I think overall they don’t).
      I really like dictées, they give the teacher a break, and the kids think they are doing important work.

  6. Thank you, Sabrina. I remember seeing the method somewhere, but there is so much new information to me, I had forgotten! That’s a great way to do it because they get formative feedback immediately! Genius. (Yes, we had dictées, too, and NO, we didn’t get the feedback this way either.)

  7. Here is my dictation format for my Chinese 1 & 2 classes. I use Wenlin software on the Smartboard when I do this so that I can show them one word at a time in pinyin and then change each word into a character as they write so that they aren’t getting the whole sentence at once in characters. It also allows me to do animated stroke order if the students need it. I made workbooks for all the students with character grid boxes.
    Line 1: pinyin sentence
    Line 2: pinyin corrections
    Line 3: same sentence in characters
    Line 4: character corrections
    Line 5: full sentence in characters
    I only grade Line 5. I do four or five sentences. After we are finished with the dictation there is usually about 10 minutes left so I have the students do a free-write in their booklets for the rest of the period. I think the process works well and it teaches them to use whole pinyin sentences to practice their character writing rather than just using flash cards with no context, a technique I have used for many years myself.

  8. I have my first-year students copy the entire text on line two. Then they circle what is different in line one. Then we talk about what errors they made and why.

    In second year they copy a line only if there are three or more errors in their dictation line. Otherwise they write only the words that were wrong.

    In third and fourth year students write on line two only words that were wrong.

    My rationale for this is that the first-year students need practice writing the language and connecting the writing conventions with the sounds of the language. (We read the dictation again after they have copied it.) The decreasing copying is also a mark for them that they are progressing in the language. In second year especially, they enjoy the time when there are fewer than three errors on any line.

    BTW, I teach German.

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