The classroom game Walking Dictation (sometimes called running dictation) is a fantastic activity for practicing speaking, listening, and writing. This game requires very little preparation and can be used in practically any ESL lesson. In this guide, we will explain how to play walking dictation and provide some useful tips so that you can play this classic classroom game safely and effectively in class.
How To Play Walking Dictation
First, put students in pairs or small groups of 3/4. Next, number the students in each group and provide each group with a whiteboard or a piece of paper to write on. Now the game can begin.
Call all number 1 students up to the front of the class and show them a word or passage that you want them to dictate to their team. Once all number 1 students have had the chance to read the word/passage, shout “Go!” at which point the students should return to their team. When playing Walking Dictation students should walk back, and in Running Dictation the students can run back to their team.
Once back at their team, number 1 students should dictate what they read for their team members to write down. The first team to accurately write down the word/passage without any spelling or punctuation mistakes is the winner of that round. Then, play again, but this time with number 2 students dictating.
Walking Dictation Uses
One of the best things about the game Walking Dictation is just how versatile it is. It can be used to teach practically any group of students from young kids to adults and it can be used to teach vocabulary, spelling, grammar, and even whole passages of texts. Here are some of our favorite uses of this game.
When teaching children and beginner English language learners vocabulary, Walking Dictation is a fantastic way to review the new words from the lesson. When the students from each group go to the teacher, the teacher simply shows them a word or says the word quietly to each student. Then, when those students go back to their groups, they can tell them the word to write down and dictate the letters. The first group to accurately write down the word is the winner.
Walking dictation can also be used as a fun grammar exercise to review the grammar point from the lesson. When the students from each group go to the teacher, the teacher can show them an example sentence including the grammar point for them to dictate to their group. Alternatively, you can show students a sentence in one particular tense and have them change it into another tense when they dictate the sentence to their team.
Teaching Passages Of Texts
Another great way to play Walking Dictation is to have students dictate a whole passage of text or dialogue to their group. To do this simply display several copies of the dialogue on the wall/board away from the students and have one student from each group walk/run to the passage and memorize as much as they can. After which they should return to their groups and dictate as much as they can remember. Then, another student from each group can walk/run to the passage and try to memorize the next part. After a few turns, they will write down the whole passage of the text. The first team to write down the whole passage of text is the winner.
Walking Dictation Tips
Walking Dictation, and especially Running Dictation, can be a very lively game. To help you ensure the activity runs safely and smoothly, here are some useful tips for playing walking dictation.
Walk Don’t Run
A classroom is full of hazards and if students are excited and running around, an accident can easily occur. For this reason, we would suggest you make it a rule that students can only walk back to their teams and not run. Of course, even with this room, kids are likely to run to get an advantage over the other teams. One way to avoid this is to tell students they are not allowed to dictate to their team until the teacher says “Go!”. This way, students can walk slowly back to their team and wait for the game to start.
Hands On Heads
When playing walking dictation, it can be difficult for a teacher to notice which team finished first. Tell students that when they have written down their final answer they should as a group clap two times and put their hands on their heads. This way, you can clearly see which team has finished and also it prevents students from editing their answers after they say they are done.
Mix Up The Groups
In most classrooms, there will be a variety of different levels of students with different skills and personalities. Try and mix up the groups so that you don’t have a group with 4 high-level confident students competing against groups with low-level shy students. If one particular team is winning every time, it can be quite demotivating for the other students, so make sure the teams are evenly matched.
More Classroom Games
Thanks for reading. I hope your students have lots of fun playing Walking Dictation. Before you go, be sure to check out these other fun classroom games you can use in your next class:
How To Play I Spy
How To Play Simon Says
The Categories Game
Time Filler Activities
Classroom Games For Middle School Students