Adapting dictogloss for a collaborative listening class

Yuka (Maruyama) Yamamoto, Toyo Eiwa Univers


Quick guide

  • Key words: Collaborative learning, dictogloss, listening
  • Learner English level:All levels
  • Learner maturity: High school and above
  • Preparation time:20-30 minutes
  • Activity time:60-minute lesson depending on learner level and time spent on discussion
  • Materials: Selected listening material, vocabulary exercise worksheet, comprehension quiz


The original concept of dictogloss (also known as grammar dictation or dicto-comp) is to promote negotiation of meaning and linguistic form amongst students in small groups while they attempt to construct a linguistically acceptable text similar in content and style to what they have just heard (Wajnryb, 1990).Instead of focusing on linguistic form, this lesson focuses on the process of reconstructing the original text. It can be beneficial in creating a learner-centered class as it helps learners work collaboratively in groups to reproduce the content of a short lecture, and requires both self-assessment and peer-assessment. Furthermore, it is an integrative learning process that utilizes all four language skills (listening, reading, writing,and speaking). It also trains learners to develop their listening strategies such as listening for key words.


Step 1: Find a short monologue listening text threeto fiveminutes in length appropriate to the learners’ level.

Step 2: Prepare warm-up activities such as having students share experiences on matters related to the topic.

Step 3: Make pre-listening vocabulary exercises (e.g. matching or cloze exercises) to introduce students to any challenging vocabulary items from the texts. Being familiar with the topic and the vocabulary will make it easier for them to comprehend what they hear.

Step 4: Create eightto tencomprehension questions to check whether the learners understood the main ideas of the text.


Step 1 (Warm-up): Initiate a warm-up discussion to elicit the topic of the listening text.

Step 2 (Pre-listening vocabulary exercises): Make sure the students complete the vocabulary worksheet andthencheck answers to make sure the learners understood the target vocabulary items.

Step 3 (Prep): Cue the CD and play the first section of the listening text only. Students listen without taking notes to get the general gist. Have the students discuss, either in pairs or groups, what they expect to hear in the listening.

Step 4 (Firstlistening): Re-cue the CD and have the students listen to the whole text without taking notes.

Step 5 (Secondlistening): Re-cue the CD, play and pause after each section.Students are to take notes listening for both main ideas and details. For lower-level students, the teacher may want to read out the listening script adjusting the speed of speaking as appropriate. Another option is to re-cue and play the CD again.

Step 6 (Reconstruction):Students discuss in groups and share the information that they have heard in the listening. Then,together they try to reconstruct, in writing, the whole listening passage as completely as possible. Students compare their work with that of their peers and try to add any missing information.

Step 7 (Comprehension check): The students answer comprehension questions either in pairs or individually.

Step 8 (Reconstruction feedback): Give personal feedback to each group. For example, collect their written work and project each one on an OHC (Over Head Camera) so that all the students can read their work. Ask each group to present what they reconstructed. First, give general feedback to show how well they have understood the content. Then, check for grammatical errors, misspellings,and problems with word usage.

Step 9:Encourage group discussion questions and activities to expand on the listening topic.


The intention of the adapted version of the collaborative dictogloss task is to have students reconstructand summarize a longer text in their own words rather than simply copying the text word-for-word like a dictation. Instead of reproducing a text which is similar in forms,this activity allows students to focus on their knowledge of the content. At the same time, this will train their short-term memory and force comprehensible output, as students need to produce what they believe they have understood.


Wajnryb, R. (1990). Grammar Dictation. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.