Text Dictation/Email Dictation by Participants
I use this activity when introducing how to write emails in English. You can also use it for other writing styles or even grammar introduction or lexis.
1. Print out an email in large font (but not so large it can be seen from far away, about 14-18 is good) and cut up into text/email in several parts (about 5-7).
2. Then tape the parts in a mixed order on the walls of the room. The farther they are spread out, the better. I usually tape them in the middle and fold in the sides, just so they are not visible from the tables.
3. Put the learners in pairs or small groups (2-3 is best). Explain that one of them will first go to one of the slips of paper on the wall and the others wait at their tables. The one who goes to the slip should read silently and try to remember the sentence on the slip and then return and sit down down. This person then recites the information and one of the others writes it down. (This is a kind of dictation at this point). If the “runner” forgets, he/she may get up and go back to the slip of paper (but the runner may NOT shout the sentence across the room, rather must return to the table and sit down before reciting again).
4. Then change the runner/writer and continue in the same fashion as in step 3 until all the groups have all the parts of the email.
5. Next, instruct the learners to then decide what the correct order of the email is and have EVERYONE rewrite this correct version on their own paper (make sure the email is not too long).
6. Now, you have a sample text to look at and discuss with the participants. I usually ask questions like:
a. What is different compared to your own language?
b. What is the same as in your own language?
c. What is the phrase to begin the email? Do you know any others (discussion follows on what is OK, not OK and in which situations)
d. What is the phrase to close the email? Otherse?
e. What phrase ends the email? (“Looking forward to seeing you…”)
Note: This exercise involves reading, writing, speaking, listening, moving and remembering. It is lively and very effective. The running/writing part can take about 10 minutes and the discussion afterwards anywhere from 10-20 minutes.