Running dictation has been a staple activity for English teachers for many years, passed down from veteran teacher to TEFL teaching newbie since the dawn of time.
However, there are many teachers out there which may not have ever come across Running Dictation before, and if you are one of these TEFL teachers, then this page will come as a real treat to you! What makes running dictation so popular among English teachers and ESL students is because it practices all four main English language skills: reading, writing, speaking and listening.
How to Play
In class, divide your students into pairs. Each pair of students will need a pen and paper, and also an area to write, whether it's on their desk or sitting on the floor.
The next thing the teacher will need to do is to prepare a short paragraph or dialogue, printed out on paper. Make sure that you print this out big and clear, as your students will need to be reading this from a metre or so away.
Stick the Running Dictation Text on the Classroom Wall
Stick the text on the wall at the other end of the classroom a bit higher than the height of your students' heads. When you're ready, shout 'GO!' and one student from each pair (Student A) needs to run to the text, read a part of it, try to remember it, then run back to their partner (Student B). Student A tells Student B as much as they can remember from the text on the wall and Student B needs to listen carefully and write this down. Student A then needs to run back to the wall to read more, then return to Student B to tell more of what is written on the wall at the other end of the classroom. Student B again writes this down.
After 2-3 minutes, the teacher shouts 'CHANGE!', and now Student B must do the running and reading / speaking and Student A stays at the desk to Listen / Write. The first team to finish writing the text is the winner. This is a brilliant activity, which all children enjoy. Importantly, they'll be practicing all four key language skills by playing Running Dictation. Remember to shout change pretty often, so every student get to practice all skills and do some running about.
Running Dictation: Quick Rules
Rules to remember:
1. Kids can't shout the text from the wall back to their partner. They must run backwards and forwards with the information
2. No pens are allowed at the wall. No writing of notes to help them remember.
3. Kids cannot run to the wall, run back and also do the writing all by themselves.
More ESL Games for Kids
This ESL classroom game for kids is so simple it's genius! For this ESL game for kids, you'll need 20 plastic or paper cups. Colour the rims of your paper cups red and the base of the same paper cups blue. Make a large space in your classroom and place the cups on the floor in a 4 x 5 grid.
A nice high-energy ESL game for kids, but not too crazy, as you can control the kids’ movements. You’ll be reviewing vocabulary from previous lessons in this very cool and easy to set up ESL game for kids. All you need is space and a balloon. Clear a big area in your English classroom and divide your ESL students into two teams.