A TEXT-BASED COMMUNICATIVE APPROACH TO GRAMMAR
Dictogloss is a teaching procedure that involves the normal-speed dictation of a short text to a small group (4 – 5) of language students. The students take notes during the reading of the text.
Then, working in small groups, they piece together (reconstruct) the text as a cooperative endeavour. This is achieved by pooling the group’s notes and making grammatical decisions about the text. No dictionaries are to be used.
Finally, after each group has produced its own version of the text, the whole class gathers and the different versions are analysed, discussed and corrected.
A. PRE-DICTATION PHASE
1. Choosing the text
· The teacher chooses an appropriate text, perhaps practising a particular grammar point, involving vocabulary to review or on a particular theme / topic
· Text-book texts may be used
· Texts may be simplified first
· A picture helps the process greatly.
· 3 – 5 sentences long. Cohesive across sentences. Longer texts can be used with more advanced groups.
· brainstorm possible vocabulary from the title and picture
3. Lexical Pre-teaching
· pre-teach unfamiliar content words
· students should be seated in their groups and be quite clear of the nature and aims of the task (perhaps need to explain the method in L1)
B. FIRST DICTATION PHASE
· The text is read at normal speed
· 2 readings – during the first reading students listen without writing anything – during the second reading they write down content words as they are heard on their own paper – it is important that each member of the group writes down as much as he/she can understand, in order to participate in the group reconstruction
C. RECONSTRUCTION PHASE
· students pool their notes and construct a text – not trying to re-create the original text, but to produce a group text which is grammatically correct, contains the same information and is cohesive.
2. Final Dictation
· one final dictation (third dictation) at normal speed, during which students attempt to add further content words to their first list
3. Final Reconstruction
· students reconstruct a final group text on a large piece of poster paper and on an OHP transparency
D. ANALYSIS AND CORRECTION
· all texts are placed on the wall for other groups to read
· texts are then corrected for grammar and meaning, or teacher can collect the final texts and use as a base for remedial grammar teaching
ADVANTAGES OF THE DICTOGLOSS METHOD
· can be used in any cultural setting, with any language and with any level of student
· teaches grammar in context and in response to need in a particular situation
· motivating for students and teachers
· task-based learning
· student-centred learning
· communicative – to complete the task, the students must work cooperatively and use language (discussion, negotiation) – inevitably, some L1 will be used, but keeo this to a minimum
· exposure to the concept of a text, on which many modern language curricula are based
Wajnyrb, Ruth 1990, Grammar Workout: The Dictogloss Method of Language Teaching: a text-based communicative approach to grammar