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Dictations: improving in gap-filling activities

February 19, 2013

If you wish to improve in gap-filling listening comprehension exercises you could follow my advice:

  • Choose a podcast episode you enjoyed, or any other audio recording you like. Make sure you have the transcript, so that you can check your dictation later on.
  • Play it once, just listening to it. Then start pressing pause after each chunk of language that makes sense as a chunk of language! (like I do in class — well, I think I just did this once, with the Avanzado 2 groups.) It’s hard to be good at this at the beginning (that is why it is also good you listen once or twice to the complete piece), but you improve at knowing when to pause with practice.
  • If you can’t get the complete chunk down, leave a blank and continue! Just go on, leave blanks. You will fill them up in subsequent listenings. Once you’ve filled in/out your own gaps, play the complete piece again, to check you got everything down. And then play it again to check punctuation and spelling.
  • Finally, check your work with the transcript — use a red pen for mistakes. (And keep a record of your work, so you notice how, in a couple of months, you’ll have improved! including in reducing your fear of this activity!)

love-bubbles-vectorThis exercise will make you better at this kinds of listenings, but it will also make you a better speller!! But there’s much more!!!: it will help you learn vocabulary and most importantly, ways to say things, so remember to use this exercise also to collect Useful Language for your conversations! (you can also Listen & Repeat those bits). AND… it will make sure you listen to different kinds of audios, because you will be looking for one for your dictation! which means it will help you develop the habit of listening to English every day!!

Here is a link to a slightly different activity: dictations online. The teacher says “period/full stop,” “comma,” all that! It’s great and it’s sorted out by levels! But I still recommend you use news, interviews, “authentic” texts, I mean, not only texts designed as dictations. So plan your learning week! You could do one of these, and one with authentic news and interviews (from podcasts or textbook audios every week!

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