Phonic Dictation

While dictation can be viewed by many in education as old-fashioned, dictation is a powerful, time-efficient and often underutilised instructional medium. As part of PLD’s Structured Synthetic Phonics (SSP) program, phonic dictation has the potential to provide students with repeated practice of transferring single-word spelling skills into writing.

Students often write words correctly in spelling tests but struggle to apply their new knowledge to written work. Why? As a general rule, when transferring spelling into writing, students require the activation of many more skills. Explained simply, single-word spelling is quite a simple cognitive task in comparison to writing tasks.

What are the Benefits of Dictation
  • Dictation develops attention, focus and listening skills. Noisy and distractible students will be required to become attentive very quickly.
  • Dictation is easier than self-generated writing as the writer is supplied with the content to be written.
  • Listening skills such as not asking for words to be repeated, maintaining focus, and listening to increasing large sections of text (i.e. from 3 words to full sentences/8 words) are honed.
  • Well-chosen passages will expose students to good literature and will help them to reproduce well-constructed grammatically correct sentences with correct punctuation.
  • Phonic focus, thereby facilitating the transference of spelling concepts into written work. Sounding out difficult words and attempting words phonetically when the spelling is not known.
  • The Phonic Dictation programs are suitable from Foundation through to Year 6. Dictation tasks are also incorporated into the Foundation program First Writing Activities.
How to Present Phonic Dictation

Watch Diana Rigg break down the content for each book and they align with PLD’s Structured Synthetic Phonics (SSP) approach.

Students often require many opportunities to rehearse their new spelling and writing skills in contexts of increasing complexity. Phonic Dictation focuses on a variety of spelling and phonics concepts. As students complete the dictation tasks, they are faced with the challenge of applying their recently acquired spelling concepts to the rewriting of passages. The presentation of regular phonic dictation sessions enables students to rehearse transferring spelling concepts to their writing.

Dictation tasks require minimal preparation but produce significant gains in all areas of literacy. When presented on a regular basis, dictation tasks hold the potential to produce a significant increase in a range of areas. Dictation improves the following skills in students – listening, auditory memory, handwriting, language and spelling.

Most importantly, dictation assists in the translation of spelling list words to students’ self-generated writing. The short presentation formats outline dictation only, the extended formats provide reading, editing and writing tasks.

PLD Evidence-Based Phonic Dictation Program
PLD Online Course – Raising Writing Standards

Dictation is a time-efficient structured option and addition to literacy blocks, which facilitates progress in a relatively short period of time. This is a short course which outlines a range of ways dictation can be delivered in the primary schools years and the benefits of regular presentation. Suggestions for presenting dictation to junior, middle or upper primary students and classes with diverse ranges in ability will be explored. At the end of my course, students will be able to:

  • Understand what is dictation and what the benefits of dictation.
  • Identify appropriate passages for dictation.
  • Established guidelines for marking dictation which make the marking time efficient.
  • Understand how to present dictation at a junior, middle and upper primary level.
  • Support dictation and make it easier (particularly for the students with delayed skills).
  • Understand how to present dictation when there is a wide range of ability within the class.
  • Effectively implementation of PLD’s ‘Phonic Dictation’ range (should the range be available)
  • Use support staff to facilitate dictation (should staffing allow for this)
  • Use technology to support dictation.
Related PLD Blogs

Remember, many students express that they greatly enjoy dictation writing. This structured (non-creative) form of writing, to rehearse their spelling, punctuation, sentence construction and writing with increased efficiency. Over time these skills will flow through to creative and/or curriculum writing. 

At PLD we are always available to help you achieve the best possible literacy outcomes for your students. If you have any questions about Phonic Dictation or anything else we do here at PLD get in touch with us through our chat icon in the bottom right of the screen or to

Frequently Asked Question 1:
What is dictation? Why is it important?

Frequently Asked Question 2:
How do I implement dictation with a group?