A couple of weeks ago in Episode 26, BVP answered a question about dictees. (I know there should be an accent on the first of those es but can’t figure out how to get it there. I don’t teach French.) He said they don’t contribute to language acquisition. He mentioned that something called a dictogloss was a much better choice in language classes. It’s not new; EFL teachers have been using it for years, as in this blog.
It’s the end of the year. I didn’t have time for research. But I’d just found a great set of podcasts for learning Russian, and I told my kids I was trying out something new. They’re used to that. They claim they are guinea pigs at least once a month. I pointed out that these podcasts would help with their finals.
I played a podcast once for them to listen to it. We talked about the subject (how do you divide up the chores when guests are coming). As when we had teens at home, I was astounded to find out my students saw no reason to prepare for guests, except for ordering pizza. That discussion led to a grudging search for infographics and charts about who cleans in households around the world. Searching infographics in English yielded data on where men help the most with housework, but searching in our target language yielded information on how to clean and how often and statistics on who earns the most and who’s considered the “head” of the family. Then we considered whether the English-language results were stereotypical, or possibly “politically correct,” and wondered who had created the infographics, for what purposes. We did find a lot more infographics on how young people spend time, so once again we argued about whether time in which students do their homework is “free time.” Russians say yes, American teens disagree.
Because of our research tangents (some of which I had gathered in advance), the second time they listened to the podcast was a couple days later. In the meantime, we’d heard and used a lot of the vocabulary, so I don’t know whether I can claim that results were based on the new trick. We played the podcast section a third time, and then students worked in pairs to try to reconstruct it.
If I had more year left, I’d add this technique to my bag of CI tricks. Here’s a CARLA article on how to proceed. I obviously didn’t do it exactly as directed. I always want my kids to feel prepared for any task and make it part of a whole.
I don’t like giving students much time to “free talk” in Russian because they aren’t the best language models for each other, but in this case, I could hear all sorts of phrases coming out of their mouths directly from the podcast. They were very engaged and almost competitive in how much they tried to remember. It was fun for me to listen to. A groan went up when I called time. Then we listened to the podcast, sentence by sentence, and they raised one hand if they had the idea of the sentence, two if they got most of it. “Can we do it again?” Love those words.
In oral finals, I heard several constructions we’d heard in the podcast, used correctly. I need more time to research this idea, but now other teachers are the ones who have to do it. We’re out! I think you could do this sitting outside with notebooks on the lawn though…no smartboard technology required, once kids are trained. Let me know if you try.