New Feature: Automatically Scored Dictation Exercises

Dictation is popular with elementary school teachers, but college teachers rarely have enough class time for weekly dictation tests. Lucky for us, with, students can do H5P dictation exercises in the lab or for homework. With this handy dictation module, we can automate the correction of dictation exercises so that students get instant feedback without adding to the teacher’s workload.

Did you know that writing or speaking (even silent mouthing) enhances explicit recall by 10% when compared to silent study (McCleod et al., 2010)? Selecting, circling, underlining, and highlighting have only a small effect on explicit recall compared to productive language practice. Many ESL publishers use online quizzes to help students learn new language structures, but because they are done silently they are less efficient at helping students recall the structure than production exercises like dictation.

Dictation exercises help make connections between how a word sounds and how it is spelled. Students can listen to a word and test hypotheses of how it should be spelled. In learning communities where students have little naturalistic contact with the second language, students may have seen a word on a page but never heard it spoken aloud. Alternatively, the may have heard a word or phrase and never seen it written. (My students sometimes write “forstival” instead of “first of all.”) Dictation helps to remedy that problem.

We can hardly fault students for their spelling problems. As you know, English has a chaotic spelling system that seems intent on preserving a historical record of how words used to be pronounced in the past (light, fight, knight), how the Romans transliterated highly asperated Greek consonants (Christmas, Thomas, philosophy, rhyme), and as a reminder of the Latin origins of French loanwords (debt, indict, receipt). All this makes English so difficult to spell that Americans have made a contest out of spelling English words–the spelling bee!

Dictation can also help students efficiently learn how to capitalize and punctuate sentences correctly. Capitalization and punctuation can be a challenge for students who write text messages more than emails, letters, and essays. Capitalization rules tend to be relaxed while texting, so getting students to apply capitalization and punctuation rules in more formal writing contexts can be tough.

In short, listening to what you hear and writing it down accelerates learning. Dictation exercises help you remember words, they help you remember how they are spelled and pronounced, and they help you learn capitalization and punctuation rules that are difficult to learn otherwise.

Dictations to prepare for a job interview

There is nothing remarkable about how how the dictation exercises on look. See the examples below. What is truly remarkable about these exercises is how quickly they help students learn the structures that they will have to summon during stressful (simulated) job interviews.

Below are two examples of dictation exercises I give my Sales and Marketing students to help them prepare for their midterm evaluations. The goal is to provide students with clear models of phrases they can use to sell themselves. Try the exercises yourself. Click on the speaker buttons to hear the model sentence, and type what you hear. Click “Check” for instant feedback.


This H5P dictation activity will help you to prepare for the next evaluation in which you will record yourself illustrating two personal skills with a story.

Personal qualities

This H5P dictation activity will help you to prepare for the next evaluation in which you will record yourself illustrating two personal qualities with a story. 

Reference list

MacLeod, C. M., Gopie, N., Hourihan, K. L., Neary, K. R., & Ozubko, J. D. (2010). The production effect: Delineation of a phenomenon. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 36(3), 671-685.