Students often write words correctly in spelling tests but struggle when applying 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 extended writing tasks.

Dictation tasks encourage the development of strong listening and auditory memory skills which are important for learning and literacy. Dictation is seen by many in education as old fashioned, but dictation is a powerful, time-efficient and often underutilised instructional medium. As part of a Structured Synthetic Phonics (SSP) program, phonic dictation has the potential to provide students with repeated practice with this more challenging task. How? As students complete 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 continually focus on this specific area. 

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 you are supplying the writer with the content.
  • The way you present the dictation passages can provide your students with opportunities to rehearse specific aspects of writing. 
  • Listening skills such as not asking for words to be repeated, maintaining focus, 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.
  • In our experience at PLD, repeated reading does not appeal to many students. A typically encountered comment being “I have already read that book!.”PLD’s Phonic Dictation series aims to counteract this by adding a timed aspect to the readings. In our experience, we have found that it is motivating for students to observe that their re-readings become more accurate and fluent. Read the entire blog HERE.
  • The below Phonic Dictation resources are suitable for Year 1 to 6. However, you can begin dictation tasks as early as the Foundation Year through First Writing Activities.

PLD informational and instructional video – Phonic Dictation

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

PLD program – Phonic Dictation

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 Online Course – Raising Writing Standards

Through the medium of dictation.

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.

PLD blog – What happens when the correct spelling of test words doesn’t transfer into writing?

Phonic Dictation

What happens when the correct spelling of test words does not transfer to writing?

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. 

If you would like to know more about how dictation can help your students transfer their spelling words into writing, then PLD has created this short course on the benefits of the regular presentation of dictation. The course presents many options and caters for a wide range of ability within various primary school settings. Find out more HERE.

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 [email protected].