Is dictation really considered writing

Sense or nonsense of dictations


Dear Ms. K.,

I am very happy to fulfill your request. I filtered out three posts * from my educational blog and added a fourth that was sent out in the newsletter some time ago. Two texts are dedicated to the student "Marco". This student actually existed, the episode is not made up. Of course that was more than 20 years ago ... but the problems are the same today as they were then.

According to my considerations, dictation writing is only looked at from the point of view of failure, which has led to the rejection of this valuable and promising form of exercise. The main mistake is that difficult, inadequately practiced texts are selected for dictation checks - yes, dictations are only used as a checking instrument at all. It is inevitable that they have landed at the bottom of the popularity scale.

However, dictation is primarily a learning and practice method - a simple and extremely effective one at that. The following points must be observed (completeness is not intended):

1. Dictations must not be misused as a potential threat or punishment; dictation takes place in a friendly atmosphere.

2. Dictations should be on the timetable regularly - in elementary school classes at least two to three times a week.

3. It is only dictated what has been practiced well beforehand. At first literally, later in the same way.

4. Dictations are short rather than long.

5. Each dictation is checked, corrected and graded by the teacher (using conventional grades or another grading key).

6. Dictations are only performed with rested students.

The dictation fulfills three educational objectives:
The first is for motivation. The student can show what he has learned. It is a test, and every learner wants such tests, even if he is a little nervous. This is part of every test and releases mental powers. Nobody will keep the motivation to learn if they cannot show their knowledge every now and then in an extraordinary exam situation. The medium-term "utility" of learning, if I may put it that way, lies in the exams at school. Life itself, for which one learns, lies in the abstract distance.

The second is that Diagnostic tool. The result shows whether the learning is crowned with success. This is important for the design of the lesson. If a child does not master the subject matter, there can be many reasons. Pursuing these is a demanding task for the teacher.

The third, and perhaps most important, task is fulfilled by the dictation as Exercise method. Writing after dictation is a concentration exercise that is both disciplined and conveys linguistic elements while memorizing words and sentences. A preliminary stage of dictation is copying in steps (the pupil memorizes words or sentences from the text template and writes them down by heart). As a form of work, copying by heart requires a disciplined learning attitude that not every child can muster. That is why light dictation, adapted to the level of ability, is the most effective method for learning and practicing spelling.

Nobody learns to spell according to rules - even if so many people today would like to believe. Anyone who observes himself carefully and removes the ideological blinkers that conform to the spirit of the times in order to assess and evaluate this self-observation will come to the conclusion that correct writing is mainly based on intuition is based. Intuition is a feeling for what is right and what is unusual. Intuition is also visual memory.(more on this") Students learn to write correctly only through years of reading and writing - the latter also after dictation.

Just today I had a spontaneous conversation with a mother who complained that practicing was neglected in the grammar school that the daughter attended. The children are expected to familiarize themselves with new materials. The role model and practice have come completely out of pedagogical fashion. Why is this so? Is it really just a lack of time behind it? When acquiring the basic skills, including correctly spelling, progressive specialists recommend a kind of indifferent growth to the educators from the start. And at some point there will be exams in the form of standardized spelling tests. This is where, logically, stress, fear and resistance set in.

I hope I have been able to give you some suggestions and I look forward to hearing from you from time to time!

With best regards
Karin Pfeiffer