Practice Dictation With These 9 Simple Exercises

Classroom students in the classroom and individuals at home or work can practice dictation using these fast but effective exercises.

Dictation is a valuable skill in ESL classes and for language learning. Yet it’s not always an easy skill to master. Dictation involves listening skills, English writing skills and overall English comprehension. It also takes time to learn how to listen to someone and accurately record their words.

Whether you’re a student learning to take dictation for the first time or a teacher who wants to help English learners master this skill, our simple but effective exercises can help.

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1. use Substitute Words

How to practice dictation

For this dictation practice exercise, the person giving a dictation takes keywords out of their text, and replaces them with funny words like “fidget” or “banana.” As the English students takes dictation, they write the substitute word.

At the end of the activity, students try to guess what the substitute word replaced. 

2. Spotting Collocations

Some words are commonly grouped together. For example, the phrase “lay down” is commonly put together. These high-frequency groupings of words are known as collocations.

Teachers who are working with dictation can help train students to listen for these collocations. By recognizing them, they can anticipate what comes next in dictation and listen more carefully when taking dictation. 

3. Letter Dictation

Letter dictation involves dictating a string of letters, spelling out a phrase, instead of words. Students must use their English listening skills to write down the letters, then they use their English language skills to decipher what the phrase is. So the teacher might spell whatdidyoueatfordinneryesterday and wait for the students to answer the question after deciphering the phrase.

This is a great activity for ESL students because it incorporates both word recognition and listening skills.

4. Alternate Sentences

This dictation exercise gives the student the chance to practice English listening skills. Students are given a copy of the text that has every other sentence removed. They must listen to the native speaker and fill in the missing sentences.

Because this particular activity does not require transcribing the entire passage, it works well for people who are just learning to take dictation.

5. Correct the Mistake

In this dictation exercise, the person giving the dictation throws some English grammar mistakes into the work. Students have to find these errors while listening to the dictation. They can check answers with a neighbor to see if they have the correct answer when the dictation is complete. 

This exercise requires keen listening. Students may not need to copy the entire passage but just note the mistakes. 

6. Short Sentence Dictation

Short sentence dictation using speechling
Speechilng has built-in checking that will simply click “check answer” to see how you did on the dictation

If you are practicing dictation on your own, not in a classroom, finding online dictation options will help. Speechling offers short sentences of dictation with a window next to them that you can use to practice on your own. Because it allows you to update the speed of the audio file playback, you can learn at your own pace. 

Speechilng also as built-in checking. Simply click “check answer” to see how you did on the dictation. To use this tool to make your own dictation exercises, record your own through the website.

7. One-Minute Dictation Session

One-minute dictations are a great way to build dictation skills while practicing listening comprehension, all without feeling overwhelmed. Listen A Minute has a large collection of English dictations that are all one minute long. 

This free dictation tool even has dictation practice that goes beyond simply typing what you heard. You can do sentence jumbles or fill-in-the-blank activities to show you heard what was said.

8. Dictating on the Go

Dictating on the go using the app Dictation Master
Dictation Master help you by giving you short dictation exercises you can do any time you have access to a phone

Dictation apps make it easy to practice dictation on the go. Apps like Dictation Master and VOA Learning English Dictation help you by giving you short dictation exercises you can do any time you have access to a phone.

Using these apps is simple. Install the app on your phone and choose a dictation audio file. Then, listen as you write, using downtime to practice dictation even if you aren’t at home.

9. Dictating Via a Website

Dictation websites go a step further than apps. They not only give audio files but also sometimes video files, and they have exercises to go along with the files. This helps you get dictation practice and feedback from the practice.

There are several dictation websites worth considering, but To Learn English is a good one that is free and has many different options for students. Listen and Write is another option, and it provides testing with feedback. 

A Final Word on How to Practice Dictation

Learning to listen and comprehend the English language can be difficult, particularly for those learning English as a second language (ESL). Taking time to hone your listening skills and practice dictation can help. 

Whether in the classroom or on your own, you can use these exercises to practice dictation and become more skilled at this particular English learning technique. For a native speaker, learning to practice dictation can improve your writing skill and fluency. It’s also a good skill if you want to start a side hustle as a transcriptionist or find a writing job.

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FAQs on Exercises to Practice Dictation

How can I practice dictation?

To practice dictation, you need audio files to listen to and type or write. The best tools for practicing will also give you a way to check for a correct answer.

Is dictation a worthwhile activity?

Dictation is a good activity for students and learners. It will improve your listening skills and reading skills, particularly if you’re learning American English or British English. It’s also a good skill to acquire as it will help you write faster.