Auto-Dictatio

Adapted from Ben Slavic with permission by Bob Patrick

This is a new idea involving getting the students working in the three skills of reading, writing and listening all at once.

I love it and I love the way it eats up minutes in the spring classroom, where kids have a hard time focusing, as well as their teacher.

Here’s how it works:

When telling a story becomes complicated this will work well with students who would benefit more from what I am saying if I write it at the same exact time I say it.  It works.

So when you are engaged in the very hard work (only we who try CI can know the challenge of it) of contacting teens verbally to convey an idea that is not in a story script in the target language, you may want to try this.

Say your first sentence:

A man got up about 6:00 a.m. one morning on his farm in Compania.

Circle that in the usual way. (That right there could take up to 30 minutes.)

Then, instead of going to the next sentence, go to your computer and open up Word and write that first sentence down and project up on the LCD. Notice that as you are writing the kids will be reading intently, but they will also be listening, of course, since you will be speaking the sentence as you type it, dictating it to yourself but in a loud voice that everyone can hear, hence the term Auto-Dictatio.

The kids will be reading too, and so you will be requiring them to work in all three skills at once.

So to review, the way it works is:

1. Say a sentence and circle it. (The fact that you are not working from a story script means that you may be using some vocabulary that is unfamiliar to them, so they may not get it as fast as they do when you do Step 1 working from a script (establishing meaning and then doing some PQA of a targeted structure). Hence the need for Auto-Dictatio.

2. Go to the computer and say the sentence again while typing it and projecting it up onto the screen, loudly dictating it to yourself with nice pauses between the words. They read it, and of course in those moments of reading they are listening because you are saying it but also typing it. They are also learning how to write, because you are demonstrating writing, at the same time they are reading, and of course they are getting a nice auditory repeat of the original sentence.

This is cool. I recommend it. The simultaneous speaking and writing and listening is a new thing. It really gets the kids focused. Their eyes are totally focused on reading, to see if it matches up with what they first heard in the first step above. But they are unconsciously learning to write as well. Except for my auditory superstars, who don’t seem to care much about the writing since it’s not their learning style, most of the kids, who have been beaten into a visual way of learning in school, really like reading the text that I dictate to myself out loud for their benefit.

Notes:

1. If the class has a bunch of difficult students, make them write the sentences they see appearing on the screen. It’ll really slow the process down and use up lots of valuable minutes (more writing does not mean more gains in writing, as we know now in CI training), but it will help them focus.

2. Note importantly that you don’t need a script for this. You can just make each sentence up as you go along, as long as you have the general story line in your head.

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