Dictée – 3 Questions

Mila did her first dictée today and wanted to clarify a few points about the process:
Q. How would you grade someone who copied the correct sentence but didn’t circle their mistakes as instructed but corrected their mistakes with red pen?
A. I wouldn’t care. It’s the same thing, right? It’s just a little harder for you to see and so I would ask them to help my old eyes out by doing it the way I wanted.
Q. Someone copied the correct sentences but forgot to circle or do anything at all with their mistakes – for 1 sentence only out of 10 sentences?
A. I wouldn’t care. Did they try? That’s all I care about.
Q. Someone copied a sentence from the board but made a mistake (like, wrote the wrong accent)? I know these are little things but it’s good to know for my first graded dictee.
A . The way I grade dictations is really just to see if they copied it correctly, including accents. I don’t care if they circle the mistakes and all that so much – it’s the accuracy of their copying. It’s not about finding out what they did wrong, certainly but what they did right. So if they just copy it correctly I am happy and then they are happy. They get judged all day in their other classes. That’s enough.



4 thoughts on “Dictée – 3 Questions”

  1. Alisa Sapiro-Rosenberg

    To bring this point home and keep it developmentally appropriate, I do dictees starting in the second half of fourth grade but only on lined dry erase boards. This brings the affective filter way down in my high-performing wigged our parents district…

  2. I will be trying Dictée for the first time this week. I am looking forward to this and I hope it will help my level 3Bs learn how to speak/write in the simple past.
    Should I be looking out for anything? Is there anything I should know beforehand?
    Any advice?

  3. Yes Loly the first thing to know is that dictation is something I introduced to the TPRS community in about 2001-2002 with no intention that it be used to “teach” anything. It’s output, after all, and output too early has very little value in a CI class.
    It’s just that back then TPRS stories were so hard for me that every now and then I personally needed to just stop all the input and do something I had learned in France when I was in college, dictee. So the first thing to know Loly is that dictee has next to no pedagogical value, but is only used to take a break from all the input. It is because when kids have a pencil in their hands, they think that they are learning.
    In my opinion, we can’t really teach the languages in parts like grammatical concepts like the past forms, etc. anyway. We can talk about them, intellectualize them, but doing that is like when it rains on soil that is so packed that it just runs off and does not bring any moisture to the parched flat earth. This statement is in accordance with the research. If we don’t teach in a way (via comprehensible input vs. intellectual parsing and analysis – right/whole vs. left brain instruction) then the language (water) can’t soak into the deeper mind of the students and so it just runs off and ends up being a waste of instructional minutes.
    Only slow deep soaking of the language/water into the soil works.
    So by you consciously speaking to the kids in the past tense forms, without regard to focusing on any one form, they can then hear and absorb and experience unconsciously via the story, one word image, etc. the difference (between the perfect and imperfect forms, for example) and when they sleep at night after lots of CI that day, the language is thus absorbed deeply – during the magic of sleep – and is then acquired and not merely learned (Krashen).
    But you are right that if you want them to learn (vs. acquire) the forms, then dictee is a great way to get that done, and a great way to take a break from the input game.

  4. One other point Loly is that the specifics of exactly how to do a dictee are somewhere here, or in one of the books. Maybe look in the dictee category in these pages.
    The instructions can be complex (like the Word Chunk Team Game) but are worth it bc they do the most important thing that there is in language instruction, they guard our mental health by eating up instructional minutes. Remember that flooding the students with input is great but that most CI teachers do that at the expense of their mental health, and that is not the focus of this group.
    I will post something on dictee from my ANATS book as a separate post tonight so look for it as well.

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