At a Glance


  • Languages

Instructional Level

  • College & CEGEP


  • Français langue seconde

Tasks in Workflow

Social Plane(s)

  • Group

Type of Tasks

  • Revising & improving
  • Writing

Technical Details

Useful Technologies

  • Low tech classroom, with as big of a clear space as possible

Class size

  • Small (20-49)


  • Single class period (< 90 mins)

Instructional Purpose

  • Application & knowledge building


The goal of this activity is to liven up traditional dictations. Dictations have a lot of language learning value for grammar acquisition including syntax (i.e. word order) and morphology (i.e. word endings) as well as for listening comprehension and written production. However, when dictations are teacher lead, they can be a little static as the students must wait for the teacher to determine the activity’s pace.

The Read and Run is a dynamic dictation where pairs of students work to complete a dictation at their own pace. At the start of the activity, the teacher places pieces of paper at the front of the room with the same dictation text on each piece of paper. The class is broken into teams of two students. In each team, one student will play the “walker” and the other will play the role of the “secretary”. The secretary is seated at the opposite end of the room from the dictation text. The walker must walk between the dictation text and the secretary to complete the dictation. In this way, the walker walks to the front of the room, reads and memorizes as much as possible from the dictation text and then walks back to the secretary. When the two teammates are together, the walker dictates the few words that he / she has memorized to the secretary who writes everything down. After every sentence, students should switch roles so to give students the chance to walk and write.

After the team has finished their dictation, they immediately self correct their text using the dictation text on the piece of paper at the front of the room that the teacher placed there at the start of the activity.

The instructor can use this activity as a springboard for having students complete a reflective writing assignment about the theme/topic in the text (using the new vocabulary or grammar they saw) or as a way of introducing grammar topics etc…

Instructional Objectives

  • To engage the students in the practice of translating auditory input into writing focusing on phonetic and grammar elements
  • To help students work on their writing, comprehension and speaking
  • This activity helps get students to write in a more conscious way and can serve as a springboard for other writing activities

Workflow & Materials


Activity Workflow

View on CourseFlow

Contributor's Notes

  • This activity makes the concept of the dictation less top down, which gives the students greater autonomy
  • It allows students to focus completely on the writing aspect without having to also think about the creation of a text.
  • With the Read and Run dictation, students can correct their own work immediately after the activity.
  • Space can be an issue if people are not able to move freely from one end of the class to the other (e.g. desks, backpacks, etc.)
  • Students tend to get competitive in the activity which might cause them to run in the class and potentially hurt themselves
  • Some groups respond to the activity more than others
  • There may be a certain amount of language specificity to the benefits of the activity. For example, French is a language with many homophones, making it beneficial to develop grammar and spelling skills based on what the learner hears. listening to writing
  • This activity can work better if students either have access beforehand to the text from which the dictation text was drawn or if students have background knowledge of the subject of the text (e.g. specific vocabulary words)
  • Test it out a short version of this activity with your students (e.g. 203 sentences) to see if they like it before embarking on longer texts.
  • This activity may need to be adapted to fit the particular phonetic difficulties of other languages.

Applied Strategies


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