Here are some different ways to introduce target language other than just a conventional course book text. It's always great to create your own personalised content for these methods.

Running dictation

Put some information outside the class (or tacked to the board) and have one student going out to read and dictate to the student who stays in the class. Could swop half way through. Students then compare each other's texts. Then compare it with the original. Most accurate text wins.

Chinese Whispers

Class in two lines. Person in front comes to me for the sentence. Give them a sentence. They whisper on down the line to a writer. The person in the back comes to the front. It's a race between two teams. At the end, the team look together at what has been written and try to work it out. Then they compare it with the original.

Live listening

Tell a personal or interesting story that contains the target language. Then focus attention on the target language through a gap fill.


In dictogloss or grammar dictation learners can combine improving their skills of listening and note taking with refining and upgrading their use of written language. The learners are encouraged to use their productive grammar as they pool their notes, reconstruct the text and analyse and correct their approximate texts.

There are four basic stages:

1. Preparation

  • You can warm up sts to the topic eg holiday experiences perhaps by discussion or using a picture prompt.
  • preteaching unknown key vocabulary and allowing learners to predict the content).
  • Have learners predict content in groups and get feedback on their suggestions without saying if they are correct. This provides the first listening task ie compare their predictions with the text. You can also give them a focus task eg Was it a happy ending?
  • Make sure sts are clear on the process ie listening and reconstructing.

2. Dictation

  • Read the text twice at as near normal speed as possible. In a more informal spoken style eg a
  • holiday story you should write a script but try not to read it word for word.
  • For the first reading they only listen and let the story 'wash over them'. Get feedback on
  • differences between their prediction and the actual story.
  • Check they have the main ideas (gist) of the text in place.
  • During the second reading they jot down key words to help them summarise the story.

3. Reconstruction

  • The learners work in small groups to pool their notes and produce an accurate simplified version of the text. They can take turns to be the 'scribe' who writes down the text as it emerges from group discussion.
  • When it is complete the group checks it for grammar, textual cohesion and logical sense.

The teacher has two optional roles here.
  • She can monitor but not provide any actual language input or correction prior to the final error analysis stage.
  • Or... she can guide the learners towards accuracy so that their versions are more or less correct.

4. Analysis and correction

  • There are various options for doing this but the principle is that all the learners get to see and discuss the accuracy of each other's reconstructed texts.
  • Groups pass round their texts or a photocopy for correction by their peers.
  • When the texts have all been corrected, give them the original text and read it again. Look at useful language eg tenses and lexis in the text. An alternative is to give them the original earlier to help them correct their own texts