Alphabet Dictation is a simple way to have your students practice pronouncing the letters of the English alphabet.
This is ideal with a beginner level class as what they learn in this activity will help later when it comes to you spelling out new words for them.
Prepare two short texts of a suitable level and content for your class. Above all make the text interesting: a good idea is making the text a short joke or saying.
Print them out in a large sized font and copy them so there is 1 text for half the students in the class and another for the other half. The important thing here is that before you print them, you remove all spacing and punctuation so you end up with something like this:
Prepare a variety of texts for the class, all roughly the same length.
This is about pronunciation of the alphabet so go over the letters and how we pronounce them. You can practice with the class as a whole dictating out the spelling of different words and having the class write them down – and then make sure they understand the word they’ve written!
Of course you don’t need to do all the talking here (and in fact, you should never talk too much in class) so be sure to get a few students reading out words letter-by-letter for the whole class to listen to and copy down.
Once the class are familiar with individual letters, read out a short phrase with no spaces, letter by letter:
Play a little game here: the first student to guess the phrase wins a point, etc.
What happens here is that the students not only listen to the individual letter and write it down, but once that is done they need to go over their text carefully to work out exactly what it says.
Running the Activity
Once the class are familiar with the letters and have had a chance to practice them, divide them into pairs and give the first student in each pair one of the texts.
Quite simply the student has to read out the text one letter at a time to their partner who writes it down. While this is going on, you can walk around the class monitoring and checking on what’s being written. It will be quite easy to see when a student has either misheard or been told the wrong letter whereupon you can get the pair to check that particular letter and correct them where necessary.
When one of the pair is finished they get together and try and work out what the string of letters means. Then they swap roles and do the same with the second text.
Variations on a Theme
- Remember to play with case as appropriate; this means you can sometimes write in all uppercase, sometimes in lowercase, etc.
- With complete beginners, the first few times you run this activity you might want to leave the word spacing in the text and concentrate only on the letters themselves.