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Spanish Dictation – a Multi-Purpose Practice

Spanish Dictation
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Spanish Dictation is a multi-purpose practice that parents and teachers can use easily at any time. They can use it as a quick, impromptu activity or a planned activity in a lesson plan. Kids find it enjoyable and gain many benefits from doing it.

How to Do Spanish Dictation

I like to use Spanish Dictation either as a quick, on-the-spot, change of pace activity when I see that students need a quick break from what we are doing, or as a planned activity that I put in my lesson plan. Either way, the students gain the same benefits from it, which I will discuss shortly.

To do Spanish Dictation:

  1. First I give the students little dry erase squares, markers, and tissues for erasing. You can use scrap paper and pencil, but I find that students really enjoy using the dry erase.
  2. Next, I explain that we are going to do Spanish Dictation and that that means they are going to write exactly what they hear me say in Spanish.
  3. Then, I present the activity in an enjoyable and encouraging way. I tell them, “So, let’s see how well you can spell some of your vocabulary words on your own. I will go slowly. Don’t worry about how well you think you’re going to do or how anyone else is doing. This is to challenge yourself. It’s just practice, and it’s all about learning. So, let’s see how you do!” Then, I’ll say, “Ok, let’s warm up with some of our short words.” And, I will say a word that I am pretty sure everyone can spell.
  4. After they write the word, I put it on the board and ask, “So, how did you do?, ¿fantástico?, ¿así así (so so), o ¿desastre (disaster)? They get a kick out of “desastre” and begin to loosen up and have a sense of humor about how they do.
  5. Then, I’ll ask, “So, next, should I give you a fácil (easy), así así, or difícil (hard) word? And, I get all kinds of answers. I usually go with another easy or in between word next. I like to be sure that those who are less confident spellers can get a good warm up and build some confidence.
  6. I always write the word on the board so they can check their work and ask them how they did as in step 4 above.
  7. As we continue, and if I give more difficult words, I slow down and sound out the words. I remind them that Spanish is written how it sounds. I remind them of how the Spanish vowels sound and about other Spanish letters. Check out my blog post Easy Spanish Pronunciation Tips for a very simple approach to understanding general Spanish pronunciation.
  8. And last, sometimes I dictate sentences. I dictate two or three words at a time. Then, I follow up with reading the whole sentence. If they need me to repeat, I have them say, “Repite por favor.” (Please repeat.)

The Multi-Purposes of Spanish Dictation

I often ask my students before we begin the activity, what they think they gain from doing this. I like to get them to think about what the point of the activity is, and we talk about it. I think it helps student motivation when they understand the purpose(s) of what they do.

The multi-purposes of dictation are:

  1. to get students to listen carefully. The ear needs time to adjust to another language and process it for understanding. When students need to write what they hear, they listen carefully.
  2. to help students understand pronunciation at a deeper level. When I dictate, I remind students that words are spelled as they sound in Spanish. I talk about the vowels and other Spanish letters. My comments provide an underlying lesson on Spanish phonics and pronunciation.
  3. to help develop spelling skills. This runs tandem with focus on pronunciation since words are spelled as they sound according to Spanish letter pronunciations. For example, the letter “j” always sounds more like the letter “h” in English. So, we talk about these things as they spell their words, reminding them of the Spanish letters and how they sound.
  4. to focus on learning specific letters. For example, the letter “c” can sound like the English letters “s” or “k”. It sounds like “s” when followed by “i” or “e”. So dictating words that help students learn these rules can be helpful.
  5. to build confidence in learning the language. Dictation provides a structured practice where students can have a say in what they write, whether it should be easy or hard. Since they usually want more challenging words as they go along, they begin to build confidence seeing their own progress inside of a short activity.

Conclusion

Spanish Dictation is a worthwhile activity that you can pull out of your hat at any time to change things up in class or in your home learning or have as a planned activity in your lesson plan. It serves many purposes providing many benefits. And, the kids enjoy it!

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