Dictation Overview
Teachers have long used dictation practice as a tool to help students learn to write a language correctly. This type of activity is particularly helpful to heritage learners, who may have strong speaking and listening skills but need work with writing skills, such as character formation or spelling. Dictation can also be good practice for certain listening skills, including the ability to recognize familiar words when spoken at a natural or rapid pace.

Computerized dictation exercises add new capabilities, such as controlling where prompt text contains blanks to be filled in, or predefining a number of times students may listen to audio before answering. Since online dictation exercises can be assigned outside of class, valuable class time can be used for other activities, and students who need extra practice can spend as long on them as they need to. Immediate feedback can be made available, either by having the computer check submitted answers for accuracy or by displaying correct answers for students to compare against their own.

The original plan of the Comet template suite included a separate template just for creating dictation activities. The software design team created a software specification outlining the requirements for such a template, which included audio prompts and the ability to solicit either open-ended or fill-in-the-blank types of responses. In the process, the team came to identify major areas of overlap with the planned capabilities of the Exercises and Listening Options templates. Ultimately, the Comet development team decided to focus first on these other templates, anticipating that dictation practice would eventually become one of the many types of activities that could be created with the Exercises template. Further development on the Exercises template will include the creation of sample dictation activities and “presets” for the template configuration options that facilitate development of dictation exercises.

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