ear training - DOC by thesign


									                                                                                                        FOCUS ON THE CLASSROOM
                                                                                                                 TEACHER NOTES

          Dictation as ear training
Most people use dictation as a                      distorting the pronunciation of words or             up in the morning. Some of us get up at five
method of testing, and by their                     syllables to make them more easily                   o'clock, but others later, at six or seven
                                                    recognizable or easier to spell; we must also        o'clock. We usually come to school at nine
     marking of it show that it is
                                                    avoid over-emphasizing words or syllables            o'clock, but on Saturdays and Sundays we do
           spelling they are chiefly
                                                    which are not normally emphasized. But if we         not go to school. We have four lessons
     testing; some even say that                    read only phrases, and these abnormally              between nine and twelve o'clock. Some of us
     they are teaching spelling                     slowly, this is not easy. It is, therefore,          go home for an hour; others play in the
     when they give a dictation.                    advisable, as far as possible, to read complete      play-ground", etc. The piece can be given
     But obviously they are not                     sentences only, at almost normal speaking            once more a week or so later, with further
                                                    speed, so that the rhythm and the intonation         refinements and complexities.
     doing that unless they spell
                                                    are easy to keep near to normal speech. The               When giving a dictation, I normally read a
     every word as they give it.
                                                    ear is thus given genuine practice in catching       sentence once only, because the learners will
                                                    and holding normally spoken sentences. Of            have to get used to hearing and understanding
                                                    course this means that we have to select             normal speech, in which sentences are seldom
The opportunity of recalling the spelling of        passages containing sentences of suitable            repeated; so I want to give them practice in
words he has previously learnt is the most the      length and degree of difficulty for the class. So    catching a sentence the first time they hear it,
pupil can get in this respect. Dictation is         a good plan is to make up one's own passages         and holding it in their minds long enough to
important because it relates what is spoken to      for dictation out of the vocabulary and              write it down. I want their skill in doing this to
what is written; it is not a method of teaching     structures of a lesson done not long before,         increase steadily, but I do not want them to
spelling, plenty of copying does that much          until the learners are used to this kind of          despair if they find it difficult at first. I want to
better; it is not primarily a way of testing,       dictation. Sentences may be gradually                help those that need help to remember what
though it may show us very clearly and quickly      increased in length; many teachers who are           they have half forgotten, and in this way I try to
the different degrees of skill our pupils have in   not used to this method of working may be            show them how to train and exercise their
hearing accurately, retaining what is heard,        surprised how their pupils' capacity for             memories. As soon as I have said a sentence,
and writing it down correctly. It is primarily a    attentive listening can increase in a few            I go round the class, seeing who has written
method of teaching, and it can be the most          months of such work done regularly, say, two         the sentence correctly, whispering or writing in
important item in the process of ear training.      or three times a week. An example of one way         a word, if a boy or girl is held up, or correcting
We are preparing for it orally when we say          to increase the difficulty of the material within    a word that is wrong. I may tell a boy who has
something to a pupil and expect him to              the capacity of the pupil might be a dictation       written the sentence correctly to go and help a
recognize its meaning and respond to what we        such as the following. “We get up in the             boy or girl who has written it wrongly or is
say in action; when we say: “Please clean the       morning. We come to school at nine o'clock.          uncertain what to write next. If I find that
blackboard," and someone cleans it. We are          We work from nine till twelve o'clock, then we       several members of the class have misheard a
continuing this preparation when we say a           go home. We come to school again at two              particular word and written it wrongly, I ask the
sentence and ask the pupil to repeat it. When       o'clock. We work till four o'clock. We read and      class to decide whether it is correct, or
the class can do this easily with the sentences     write and answer questions. We go home at            whether, in fact, I said something else. If
of the lesson before last, it is ready to have a    four o'clock. We go to bed in the evening at         several have written it correctly, we get a
dictation, either in the actual words of that       nine or ten o'clock." A week or so later, we         chorus of the right word from all sides. Then
lesson or in the form of a piece made up from       may give virtually the same dictation, but           we discuss the word to bring out its meaning
the words and structural material from it.          increase the length of the sentences. “We all        and fix it in the pupils' memory.
      If we regard dictation as primarily an        get
  exercise in ear training, we try to avoid

                                                                                                             STANDPOINTS N° 36 / JAN. - FEB. 1995
        FOCUS ON THE CLASSROOM                                                                                        Dictation as ear training

When I am satisfied that all who can write the             When we have finished a paragraph and           more for their interest and beauty. No
sentence have written it, I ask a pupil who has      corrected it, there are various things we can         teacher need adopt exclusively one mode of
written it correctly to read it out. Then we all     do. We can tell the class to write a second           giving dictation; the kind I have described
repeat the sentence until everybody feels he         paragraph in their own words and give the             need not supersede or exclude the kind we
knows it and can understand it. If anyone still      piece a title. This aids, completes and tests         are more familiar with. The dictating of
finds it difficult, others try to give the meaning   their comprehension. Another possibility is to        information and notes will, in any case, be
in other words, or remind him of similar             get several members of the class to read              more like what we are accustomed to.
sentences they have met before. By the time          through the piece in turn; then we can rub out        Above all, to ensure spontaneity, the
we have finished, we may have repeated the           every fifth word and read it through again,           teacher should constantly experiment with
sentence or its equivalent a dozen or more           filling in the missing words from memory. After       different techniques bearing in mind what
times, and it will have been brought to full         that, we rub out every fourth word and repeat         results he hopes to see in successful
consciousness. In all this work, the element of      the exercise, and then we rub out every third,        training of the ear, co-ordinating hand and
co-operation and mutual help is strong.              every second and, finally, all the remaining          ear, building up impressions of sentence
      I usually ask one boy who has good, clear,     words successively, reading the piece through         patterns in the mind, penetrating into the
 handwriting to write his version on the             again and again until there is nothing left on        heart of a piece of prose or verse, and so
 blackboard. Anyone can copy his version who         the blackboard. The students have absorbed            on.
 wants to, but if we are trying to train the class   the sentence patterns and words in context                 Dictation is not only a useful part of the
 in serious habits of responsibility for their own   and whenever they read the piece over, its            teaching of language. The teachers of other
 work and in self-respect, if we are showing         meaning will come to them again. At this point,       subjects, in dictating notes, or narratives or
 them how to judge and improve their own             or as an alternative to what has just been            accounts of scientific experiments, or
 work, if we treat mistakes as things to be          outlined, the class can be divided up into            descriptions of events which they hope will
 corrected and overcome and not as moral             groups under the leadership of those who              be remembered, can make use of the same
 delinquency, if each member of the class sees       were most successful in getting the sentences         technique ensuring by the clear statements,
 that he has a stake in his own improvement,         written down correctly, and the group leaders         repetition and discussion of each point that
 he will not copy the blackboard script until he     can dictate the same dictation to those who           what has been written will be really
 has admitted to himself that he has failed to       found it difficult. Or this exercise can be an        remembered and understood.
 remember the sentence himself. Besides this,        alternative for the weaker pupils to their                  When I was learning French at school
 it will soon become clear that the individual       continuing the story - or writing another              our teacher dictated the same passage
 writing on the blackboard is not infallible; and    paragraph - in their own words. One good way           about, I think, eight or nine times. We
 in fact, a howl of delight or good-tempered         of continuing the dictation is for individual          couldn't guess whether he did it
 derision, if he makes a mistake, is a healthier     members of the class to continue the story,            deliberately or out of forgetfulness. At any
 form of correction than the teacher's, and          each giving i.e. dictating - a sentence.               rate, I knew it by heart, and even now can
 helps all members of the class to look at their            A teacher need never be afraid of giving        recall the first sentence: “Connaissez-vous
 own work critically. When the sentence is             the same piece of dictation more than once,          cette partie de la France, la belle
 corrected, the blackboard version is corrected        but of course when giving it the second time,        Touraine ?", and a ghostlike shimmer of
 by someone who has written it correctly in his        he should read it faster than the first time, and    breezes courses through my mind in the
 book, and then all the books are corrected to         he will probably cut out the discussion and,         half-remembered lines that follow. Not bad
 agree with it. This ensures that mistakes are         perhaps, the writing on the blackboard. In           after more than 65 years! My son was in
 not left in front of the eyes longer than             general, the teacher should choose for               Uganda last year, to see where he was
 necessary, and also saves time.                       dictation pieces that are worth learning by          born. He met an African priest who had
                                                       heart, or at least becoming very familiar with,      been a student of mine. He told him I had
                                                       in the earlier stages for the value of the           insisted on the repetition of the sentence:
                                                       pattern sentences and useful turns of phrase         “Pass the butter, please," as a way of
                                                       to be found in them, and in the later stages         getting him to practise the glide from s to
                                                                                                            th and the contrast between b and p. This
                                                                                                            was after a gap of more than twenty years!
     STANDPOINTS N° 36 / JAN. - FEB. 1995

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