Dictogloss: An ESL Listening and Speaking Activity

Dictogloss ESL Listening and Speaking Activity

Skills: Speaking/listening

Age: 8+

Materials Required: A short story

Dictogloss is a simple activity for more advanced level students that helps them practice their listening and memory skills, as well as substituting vocabulary words if the original word is no longer accessible to them. Find a short, interesting story or make up one yourself. I’ve used various things from children’s stories to a story about something I did on the weekend. Nearly anything can work.

Tell the story 1-3 times, depending on the student level and of course you can also vary your speaking speed to make this activity easier or harder. Once you are done telling the story, students will have to go in groups of 2-3 to retell the story. Emphasize that they won’t be able to recreate the exact story that you told, but that they should try their best to keep the meaning the same. Each team can join up with another team to compare. Then, tell the original story again so students can see their results. This activity works well as a writing activity too.

Teaching Tips:

It’s very helpful for students to compare answers with a partner before they have to say anything in front of the class, so be sure to put them in partners or groups of three for this activity. It’s helpful for the weaker students to have a stronger student getting them up to speed. It also gives students confidence that they’re on the right track and they’re less nervous to share their answers with the class.

Do you like Dictogloss? It’s from 39 ESL Warm-Ups: For Kids (7+). Get 38 more ESL warm-ups that are equivalent in awesome. Lesson planning made easy. Save time, and lots of it!


1. Prepare a short story which you’ll read to your students.

2. Put students in groups of two or three and read the story to them.

3. Students try to remember the details of the story and compare with their group. I usually only allow them to do this by speaking.

4. Read the story again and have students attempt to recreate the story more closely, again by speaking.

5. Read the story again (depending on level and difficulty of story) and the students again attempt to recreate it, even more closely.

6. Elicit a couple of teams to tell their story to the class (in a small class). Or, put two teams together and they can tell their stories to each other (in a larger class).

7. Read the story one final time for students to compare with their own.

Leave a Reply