Running dictation

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A running dictation is a physically exerting activity in which the students dictate a text to one another, and brings a communicative, dynamic and energetic element to a lesson. It is commonly used to let off steam with group of younger learners but can also be used with adult groups as the change of pace is often welcome.


  • The teacher will need to find a short text to use, ideally one or two paragraphs in length.
  • Students will need paper and a pen(cil)


  • The teacher sticks their chosen text to a wall outside of the classroom, the further away the better.
  • The teacher explains the activity and teaches useful phrases such as "What was the last word?" "Is that .... or ....?", "Can you repeat the whole sentence?", "Is there a comma inbetween these words?" etc.
  • Pairs of students are formed, one being a scribe and the other a runner.
  • On the word "go", the runners run to the text and memorize as much as they can then run back to the scribes. The runners then dictate (what they remember of) the text to the scribes who copy it down.
  • This continues until most pairs have passed the halfway mark, at which point the teacher pauses the dictation while the pairs swap roles.
  • When all the pairs have finished, they sit down together and check the spelling and any missing words.
  • Finally, the students compare their version with the original and make any necessary corrections.


The dictation can be made more competitive by awarding five points to the pair who finish first. When a pair wins the activity is stopped and, after making adjustments to their texts, all the pairs swap texts. The texts are then peer assessed and given points: one point per correct word and punctuation mark and minus one for each mistake, missing word or missing punctuation mark. This variation works well in that an incentive exists to dictate accurately and quickly.

See also[edit]