Dictatio currendo

Dictatio Currendo

1. Students are in groups of 4 at one end of a courtyard, gymnasium or large space.

2. On Cardboard presentation boards are 3-5 sheets of paper with Latin sentences written on them.

3. Teacher sits half-way between off to the side as the “auxilium”.

4. When the start is given, the first runner runs to the board, reads the first sentence and runs back to his/her group and gives the dictation.  This runner returns as often as is necessary to get the whole sentence dictated to the group.

5. The group then must collaborate on the meaning of the sentence and write it beneath the dictation.  If they need help, they send a runner to Magister/Magistra who is sitting at the mensa auxilii.

6. When finished with the first, group sends the second runner, and process continues until all group members have all 10 sentences written and translated.  When finished, they turn them in.


Grade for each student is based on

–accuracy of Latin–5 points per sentence

–acceptability of translation–5 points per sentence

–completion of all–if a sentence or more is not completed, partial or no credit is given.
On the following day, teacher supplies a copy of the sentences and acceptable translations. Small groups grade each other’s paper with teacher’s consultation.  Students who did not complete all or who do poorly can come in and work on these individually to earn back all credit.  

This is a variation of the running dictation that is often a part of the Rusticatio sponsored by SALVI.



This kind of dictation is the ONLY way that we know of  to deliver more than 4 new words at a time in a way that most student remember, but it is also a CI delivery method that should only be used about once or twice a month.  Based on a story that the teacher knows the class is going to read, the teacher prepares 10-12 sentences from that story that capture the new vocabulary.  Setting up the rules are important, and we ALWAYS go through them as if we have never done this before.

This is what to say:  “Clear your desks except for a piece of paper and a pencil.  Dictatio is a listening, understanding and writing activity.  I will read each sentence three times and only three times. You must be silent during the dication, and you must write down the sentence as best as you can.  After the third time, I will show the sentence on the board (pp slide, etc), and you will be given time in the line beneath your sentence to re-write anything that you got wrong or left out.  If you get the sentence entirely correct, write the word “optime” in the line beneath it. After you have corrected, I will take questions about anything in the sentence that you do not understand.  Are there any questions about the procedure? (pause for questions).  Good.  You will receive a quiz grade for this dictatio, and you will get 100% if you follow all of these rules.”

Then, proceed as outlined above.  Watching over their shoulders is good. Asking “intellegitisne” after each correction allows them to ask “quid significat ______” and then you can explain.  Dictatio is quiet, slow, focused, and provides understandable messages in the target language.  I think the slow, intense, focus of this activity makes is possible for them to learn more words.  8-12 new words can work this way, but again, only once or twice a month.  It’s a great Monday activity, especially before a new story or unit.