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The dictation test
is a hybrid between a listening exercise and a writing test. If prepared and administered
correctly, the test can
provide a wealth of information about a student's ability to process and
produce English. The dictated material should be appropriate for
the level of the student. Students should be provided with pens or sharp pencils
and lined paper.
Some sub-skills which can be tested
in a dictation test are:
- the correct verb form
- the correct verb tense
- punctuation errors
- capitalization errors
- correct spelling
- sentence boundaries
- phonemic/graphemic confusion (confusion
between sounds and letters)
Hints for planning and taking a
- Tests are planned carefully so that the
level of comprehension and production of language is appropriate for
the level of the students.
- The teacher should plan stops or breathing
points at natural places in the dictation every few words.
- The speed of dictation should be slow
enough for the students to manage the writing.
- The dictation should never be repeated.
- One point should be deducted for each
error, including spelling, capitalization, missed words, and punctuation errors. A good evaluation will list the number of
errors in grammar, punctuation, spelling, missed words, and capitalization separately. This will provide the student with an indication of his/her weak
and strong points.
A sample dictation
story for high intermediate students
The house painter lived in an
apartment in New York. The beautiful house where the mayor of the
city lived was in the same neighborhood, but the house painter had never met the
One day, the house painter was asked to
paint a room in the mayor's house. As he was entering the mayor's
home, he met the mayor. The house painter bowed to the mayor, and the
mayor stopped to talk to him. They talked for a half-hour. The house
painter told the mayor that he lived in an apartment nearby.
that time on, they became the best of friends.
A sample dictation
sequence for beginners
is on the table.
is under the table.
is on the floor.
are on the table.
pencils are on the floor.