Dictogloss | ESL Listening and Speaking Activity

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Dictogloss ESL Listening and Speaking Activity

Are you looking for an ESL activity that covers a range of skills, and is fun but challenging. Then you’ll need to consider trying out dictogloss.

Keep on reading to learn more about dicto gloss, including how to set it up and teaching tips to make it an even more awesome activity.

Dictogloss Listening and Speaking Activity

Skills: Speaking/listening

Age: 8+

Materials Required: A short story, pen + paper

Time: 10-20 minutes

Dicto gloss 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. This is useful skill for our students to work on, as they may often encounter this in real life.

Where to Get the Story?

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. You can find stories in textbooks, or make your own simple ones.

Read the Story to the Students

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.

Why Dicto Gloss is So Good

We love ESL activities and games that focus on more than one skill at a time. It pushes your students to integrate their knowledge and improve their English ability.

Teaching Tips for Dictogloss

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.

It’s obvious, but also worth stating: adapt this activity to the level of the students. If you’re using it as a quick warm-up or introduction to some grammar or vocabulary, make it reasonably easy for the students to do.

However, if you’re using it to test their knowledge at the end of a class, then you can make it a bit harder, slightly above their level in some cases.

Procedure for this ESL Listening and Speaking Activity

1. Prepare a short story which you’ll read to your students. A short text is best, as opposed to a long, complicated story.

2. Put students in groups of two or three and the teachers reads the story to them. Read at normal speed in most cases. Part of the challenge for the students is recreating the story when they didn’t understand all of the things they heard. 

You can encourage students to take short notes about what they heard. Not full sentences, just a few words.

3. Students try to remember the details of the story, reconstruct it as best they can, and then compare with their group. I usually only allow them to do this by speaking. But, you could do it with writing as well.

4. Read the story again and have students listen, and then attempt to recreate the story more closely, again by speaking. Give some support at this point if necessary (a form or some terms perhaps).

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).

Use this as an informal assessment tool to see how your students are doing with this skill and if possible, see where they went wrong (if they did). For example, problems with listening, vocabulary, grammar, etc.

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

Like this ESL Activity?

39 ESL Warm-Ups: For Kids (7+)
  • Jackie Bolen, Jennifer Booker Smith
  • Kindle Edition
  • English

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You can check out the book for yourself on Amazon. Click the button below to learn more about it:


Dictogloss Dictation Activity

Check out this short video to learn more information about this fun ESL game:

Have your Say about Dictogloss

What are your thoughts about Dicto Gloss, an ESL activity that works on speaking or writing and listening? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think.

Also be sure to give this article a share on Twitter, Pinterest, or Facebook. It’ll help other people, like yourself find this useful resource.


Dictogloss, a Fun ESL Activity

Last update on 2019-07-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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