Dictogloss is a language teaching technique that is used to teach grammatical structures, in which students form small groups and summarize a target-language text. First, the teacher prepares a text that contains examples of the grammatical form to be studied. The teacher reads the text to the students at normal speed while they take notes. Students then work in small groups to prepare a summary of their work using the correct grammatical structures, and finally each group presents their work to the rest of the class. Dictogloss activities encourage learners to focus on the form of their language while also being based in communication, and are used in task-based language teaching.
Dictogloss activities have several advantages. They integrate the four language skills of listening, reading, speaking, and writing. They also give students opportunities to talk about both content and the language itself. Furthermore, dictogloss activities are a useful way of presenting new factual information to students and encourage them to listen for key points. Finally, they give support to less confident students, as they are encouraged to participate in their groups as part of the structure of the activity.
An example of a dictogloss is the following: learners discuss the sea; the teacher then explains the task, and reads a short text on the sea to the class, who just listen; the teacher reads the text again and the learners take notes; in groups, the learners then reconstruct the text. In this activity, learners are required to reconstruct a short text by listening and noting down key words, which are then used as a base for reconstruction.
An alternative way of conducting a dictogloss activity is to have the teacher read a short, relevant text three times. The first time, the students listen only, and do not take notes. The second time, they are allowed to note down several key words. The third time, the learners are allowed to write as much as they desire. Following this, the students are instructed to create a summary of what they have heard on their own. When this task has been completed, they take their own summaries and work with a partner to co-construct a summary based on their individual work. Following this, they join with another pair to create a group of four to collaboratively reconstruct the text. Then, students compare their reconstruction of the work with the original to discuss similarities and differences from the source text. This activity can be used, for example, to draw attention to a particular language feature or to help develop students' abilities to synthesize information.
- Ellis, Rod (2003). Task-based Language Learning and Teaching. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-442159-1.
- Richards, Jack C.; Schmidt, Richard, eds. (2009). "Dictogloss". Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics. New York: Longman. ISBN 978-1-4082-0460-3.
- Gibbons, Pauline (2002). Scaffolding Language, Scaffolding Learning. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. ISBN 0-325-00366-1.
- Gibbons, Pauline (2009). English Learners, Academic Literacy, and Thinking. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. ISBN 978-032501203-2.
- Wajnryb, Ruth (1990). Grammar dictation. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-019437004-2.