Oct 29th, 2011, 04:50 am
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Join Date: Oct 8th, 2006
| | Re: writing
It also depemds on learning style. Some people (like me) need to write things down to learn them whilst others have other ways of doing it. Sounds as if your learner has an aural learning style, and you might consider playing to that.
You also need to consider what you are trying to do. You mention dictation - but why are you doing dictation? It's not a natural form of writing. When we write, we write down what we want to say, not what someone dictates to us (when was the last time you did a dictation in real life?) So dictation doesn't teach writing.
Nor does it test listening comprehension. When we listen, we don't hear a slowish reading of a perfectly formulated written text, with phrases repeated. We get one chance to hear something spoken rapidly with lots of hesitations, false starts and grammar and lexis which differs quite radically from the written language. Nor do we naturally remember the exact words - we understand the meaning, but if asked to express it, will say it in our own way.
And if you're using it to test vocabulary recall - well there are many other, more effective ways to do that. If I dictate a word to you you may actually be able to write it down - but that doesn't necessarily mean you understand it. You may just remember the word and the spelling (or make a lucky guess at it) without actually remembering the meaning. Just as an example, if you give the learners a set of pictures and six words not in order and with the letters scrambled , then ask them to unscramble the letters and write the words next to the pics, this tells you a lot more. (You could use the worksheet maker of the site to create this type of test.)
With your learner, it seems that what you're really trying to test by using dictation is her spelling. Distinguish between her knowing the word and knowing how to spell it. If she can look at a picture of an object and say the word, then she has learnt it. What she may not have learnt is the spelling.
If she does need to work more on learning the word itself, then let her do so orally. Provide students (in groups) with a set of flashcards with the picture on the front and the word on the back. Then let them play card games - eg Snap!, but instead of saying Snap! they have to say the name of the object; Happy Families - for young kids I use eg animals od 3 colours - the brown dog, the white dog, the black dog etc; with older ones you could use categories - eg three foods, three classroom objects etc etc. Or, using 2 sets of cards per group, without the words, let them play memory. The cards are turned face down, and each person takes a turn at uncovering two. If they're not the same, they're turned back over again.As more cards are uncovered each person has to try and remember where the cards are so that they can win the pair - but only if they can say the name of the object on the cards.
And if it is a spelling problem - first of all consider whether she might be dyslexic. Does she have reading problems too? If so, this is something you need to work with - not against. If you're not sure what dyslexia is, Google it - don't have the space here to go into it, I'm afraid. But if this is not the problem, and she just has problems with spelling - again work with that, possibly without working on writing. Eg : get some Scrabble tiles and do a spelling game. Show pictures and the first group to grab the right tiles and put them in the right order wins. If you Google "improving spelling" you'll find lots of ideas which have nothing to do with writing things down.
I'm not saying here "never ask your students to write". But if you do, teach them to write things which are meaningful and personal to them. Nor am I saying "never use dictation". There are in fact lots of "jazzed up" types of dictation. Try Rinvolucri's "Running Dictation" for instance- stick the text on the wall and divide learners into groups. One person per group goes and reads the text, memorises the first phrase and goes back to the others and dictates it then goes back to the text to see the next phrase - and so on until the group has written the complete text. Your learner who hates writing could be the runner.