Dictation Test





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Definition of Dictation

In Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (1995:190), dictation means “being dictated to: passage that is dictated”. In addition, Oller (1979: 39) states that:
Dictation is a task which requires the processing of temporally constrained sequences of material in the language, divided up the stream of speech and then refers down what is heard requires understanding the meaning of the material”.
From the definition above, we may come to a conclusion that dictation is a kind of test that not only challenge students’ short term memory and understanding in spelling vocabulary but also to understand the meaning of what is said. The students are hoped to perceive the contents of the passage and recognized all the words and sentences being read so that they are able to put these aural codes into written symbols.

Dictation

Dictation is used to evaluate most of the aspects of language simultaneously. Its main purpose is to check the proficiency of the students about the language being learned through their listening ability. It means that when students do dictation test, they do not only pay attention to the sound of the words read by the teacher but also understand about the meaning and be able to transfer the dictated passages to their graphical representations. They are forced to pay a comprehensive attention to the passage dictated and write down what they perceive by sound, sight and feeling in the second language at the same time span allowed for a response in the first language. Once they fail to concentrate on their listening, they will not able to make quick guess what they actually have to write. It is clear implies that dictation is used to assess the students’ ability, in this case listening skill. Teacher hopes that this method of evaluation can motivate students in learning English and check whether the teaching aims have been satisfactorily fulfilled or not.

Types of Dictation

In determining the kinds of dictation as a testing device, the teacher should have a look at the material provided. To prepare which kind of dictation used, the teacher, as the examiner should realized the specific point to be gained in using each test. As a testing technique, dictation may be given in various ways. According to Oller (1979: 264) there are five types of dictation procedures that have been used in a variety of ways as testing techniques. Those five ways are elaborated as follows:

a. Standard dictation
Standard dictation is probably the best known. Students are required to write verbal sequences of material as spoken by a teacher or played back from a recording. The material should be presented at a normal conversational speed and is given in sequences that are long enough to challenge students’ short term memory.

b. Partial dictation
Partial dictation also called spot dictation. This type has a close relation with the standard dictation, but the students are given either a written version of the text or the spoken one. The written version has certain portions which are deleted. The students must listen to the spoken material and fill in the missing portion in the written version. It is easier to perform because more sensory information is given concerning the message; a partial written version and a complete spoken version.

c. Dictation with competing noise
This type of dictation is rather difficult because the material is presented with adding noise. This kind of dictation drills the students to be used to everyday communication context where language is used in less than ideal acoustic condition; for example, we are trying to have a conversation in someone’s living room when the television and air conditioner are producing a high level of competing noise or trying to hear a message over a public address system in a busy air station, etc.

d. Dicto-Comp
This type of dictation is actually a combination of two forms, namely dictation and composition. Here, the teacher reads the whole passage three times and the students are only given chance to write their work after the teacher has finished the third reading. They should recall the whole story and write the story as a reproduction of what they heard.

e. Elicited imitation
In this case, the students listen to the material, but instead of writing down the material, the students are asked to repeat it or otherwise recount what was said.  The condition of the class, whether noisy or not will determine the success or failure in administering the process of the dictation test. The teacher should strictly consider the readiness of the students before facing the dictation test with the hope to get the test successfully. In this study, I used standard dictation in collecting the data because I considered that this type of dictation can be followed well by the elementary school students.

Materials and Procedures of Giving Dictation Test

It is important for the teachers to make some preparation when they are going to give a dictation test to their students. Oller (1979: 39) stated that, as an integrative test, dictation has to meet the naturalness requirements:

a) The sequences of words or phrases to be dictated are selected from normal prose, or dialogue, or some other natural form of discourse (or perhaps the sequences are carefully contrived to mirror normal discourse, as in well-written function).

b) The material is presented orally in sequences that are long enough to challenge the short-term memory of the learners.

Base on those naturalness requirements, it is important for the teachers to make some preparation when they are going to give dictation test to their students. There are some requirements that must be followed, those are:
a) Teachers have to select suitable materials to be dictated.
b) The words dictated should have been taught to the students before.
c) The words dictated should be selected or chosen from simple words.
d) Teachers have to select suitable procedures which are appropriated in giving dictation test.

There are two ways of giving dictation test; first is the teacher reads the words directly, and the second is the words dictated have been recorded before.

From the requirements above, it is clear that the materials of dictation are any single words, compound words, word phrases, and sentences which are going to be dictated. The teacher can choose the material from the book provided and used as reference and the teacher may use a tape recorder as an aid in presenting the test. For elementary students, teacher should choose the material which can be easily done by students.
Besides preparing the materials, teachers have to select suitable procedures which are appropriated in giving dictation test. The procedures of the presentation can be arranged in two ways; the teacher himself reads the material in front of the class or uses a tape recorder as an aid in presenting the test. The teacher is required to read the passage three times in all: first, at normal speed; then, with pauses between phrases or natural word groups so that the students may write down what they have just heard, and finally, at normal speed once more so they can check their work.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Dictation

Dictation has been used in language learning for several hundred years. However, the use of dictation has always been controversial. It has not always been looked on with favour by some experts. For example, Lado (1977: 34) says that dictation is favoured by many teachers and students both as a teaching and testing device, but on critical inspection it appears to measure very little of language. Since the words are given, it does not test vocabulary. In line with Lado’s opinion above, Harris (1969: 5) believes that as a testing device, dictation must be regarded as generally uneconomical and imprecise.
Contrary to those two beliefs above, Davis and Rinvolucri (1993: 122) found out that dictation can be very useful as a test by which to ascertain the pupil’s progress in spelling, punctuation and pronunciation. They further stated that dictation is an activity which is suitable for a wide range of levels and ages. According to them, dictation is an exercise which draws on the personal experience, attitudes and opinions of what both teachers and students.

The following are some advantages according to Montalvan (2006):
a). Dictation can help develop all four language skills in an integrative way.
b). As students develop their aural comprehension of meaning also of the relationship among segments of language, they are learning grammar.
c). Dictation helps to develop short-term memory. Students practice retaining meaningful phrases or whole sentences before writing them down.
d). Practice in careful listening to dictation will be useful later on in note taking exercises.
e). Correcting dictation can lead to oral communication.
f). Dictation can serve as an excellent review exercise.
g). Dictation is psychologically powerful and challenging.
h). Dictation fosters unconscious thinking in the new language.
i). If the students do well, dictation is motivating.
j). Dictation involves the whole class, no matter how large it is.
k). During and after the dictation, all the students are active.
l). Correction can be done by the students.
m). Dictation can be prepared for mixed ability groups.
n). Dictation can be prepared for any level.
o). The students, as well as the teacher, can get instant feedback (if the exercise is corrected immediately).
p). The dictation passage can (and should) be completely prepared in advance (it also can be taped).
q). Dictation can be administered quite effectively by an inexperienced teacher.
r). While dictating, the teacher can move about, giving individual attention.
s). Dictation exercises can pull the class together, for example, during those valuable first minutes.

APPENDIX
LESSON PLAN

Level of education: Junior High School
Class/Semester: VIII/I
Subject: English
Material: Recount text
Skill: Listening /writing
Time: 1X45 minutes

Standard Competence : 2. Memahami   makna   dalam teks  lisan fungsional dan monolog pendek sederhana berbentuk  descriptive dan recount  untuk berinteraksi dengan lingkungan sekitar.
6. Mengungkapkan  makna dalam teks tulis fungsional dan esei pendek sederhana berbentuk descriptive, dan recount untuk berinteraksi dengan lingkungan sekitar .
Basic competence : 2.2  Merespon makna yang terdapat dalam monolog pendek   sederhana secara akurat, lancar, dan berterima  untuk berinteraksi dengan lingkungan sekitar dalam teks berbentuk descriptive dan recount .
6.2 Mengungkapkan makna dan langkah retorika dalam esei pendek sederhana dengan menggunakan ragam bahasa tulis secara akurat, lancar dan berterima  untuk berinteraksi dengan lingkungan sekitar dalam  teks berbentuk descriptive dan recount.

Sub Basic Competence: Recount text
Indicator:
1. Answer the questions
2. Retell the Recount text

Learning Objectives:
1. Students are able to answer the questions after listening the Recount text dictated by the teacher.
2. Students are able to retell the Recount text after dictated by the teacher.  .
II. Material
Vocabulary
- Terrible - money
- woke up - finally
- breakfast - discover
- next - yesterday
- missed
My Day
I had a terrible day yesterday. First, I woke up an hour late because my alarm clock didn't go off. Then, I was in such a hurry that I burned my hand when I was making breakfast. After breakfast, I got dressed so quickly that I forgot to wear socks.Next, I ran out of the house trying to get the 9:30 bus, but of course I missed it. I wanted to take a taxi, but I didn't have enough money.Finally, I walked the three miles to my school only to discover that it was Sunday! I hope I never have a day as the one I had yesterday.
Method
JCOT (Joining Construction of text)

Teaching and Learning Activity
1. Pre-Activity
-) Morning Greeting
-) Opening the program by praying
-) Checking the present list
-) Intermezzo about the material

2. Main-Activity (25 minutes)
-) Teacher dictates the vocabulary related to recount text and students and write on their note book.
-) Teacher give paper to students about recount text and ask them to fill the blank while the teacher dictating them.
-) Teacher checks the students task.
-) Teacher gives score to the students

3. Post-Activity (15 minutes)
-) Teacher concludes the material
-) Close program by praying and greeting

Sources:  Developing English Competencies for Grade X
Tools:  paper, board, marker, and ballpoint.

Scoring :
a. Type of test : Written test
b. Form : Fill in the blank
c. Instrument : Students Work Sheet
d. Rubrik : Each number has 10 scores. The score will be a added from each number.

STUDENT WORKSHEET

Level of education: Junior High School
Class/Semester: VIII/I
Subject: English
Material: Recount text
Skill: Listening /writing
Time : 1X45 minutes

Standard Competence : 2. Memahami   makna   dalam teks  lisan fungsional dan monolog pendek sederhana berbentuk  descriptive dan recount  untuk berinteraksi dengan lingkungan sekitar.
6. Mengungkapkan  makna dalam teks tulis fungsional dan esei pendek sederhana berbentuk descriptive, dan recount untuk berinteraksi dengan lingkungan sekitar .
Basic competence : 2.2  Merespon makna yang terdapat dalam monolog pendek   sederhana secara akurat, lancar, dan berterima  untuk berinteraksi dengan lingkungan sekitar dalam teks berbentuk descriptive dan recount .
6.2 Mengungkapkan makna dan langkah retorika dalam esei pendek sederhana dengan menggunakan ragam bahasa tulis secara akurat, lancar dan berterima  untuk berinteraksi dengan lingkungan sekitar dalam  teks berbentuk descriptive dan recount.

Sub Basic Competence: Recount text

Indicator :
1. Answer the questions
2. Retell the Recount text  

Learning Objectives:
1. Students are able to answer the questions after listening the Recount text dictated by the teacher.
2. Students are able to retell the Recount text after dictated by the teacher.  .

Material
Vocabulary
- Terrible - money
- woke up - finally
- breakfast - discover
- next - yesterday
- missed
My Day
I had a terrible day yesterday. First, I woke up an hour late because my alarm clock didn't go off. Then, I was in such a hurry that I burned my hand when I was making breakfast. After breakfast, I got dressed so quickly that I forgot to wear socks.Next, I ran out of the house trying to get the 9:30 bus, but of course I missed it. I wanted to take a taxi, but I didn't have enough money.Finally, I walked the three miles to my school only to discover that it was Sunday! I hope I never have a day as the one I had yesterday.

Activity1. Listen to your teacher and fill the blank! (English in Focus for Grade VIII Junior High School SMP/MTS)
My Day
I had a ................. day yesterday. First, I ............. an hour late because my alarm clock didn't go off. Then, I was in such a hurry that I burned my hand when I was making breakfast. After ................, I  got dressed so quickly that I forgot to wear socks.
..........., I ran out of the house trying to get the 9:30 bus, but of course I .................... it. I wanted to take a taxi, but I didn't have enough ...................
..............., I walked the three miles to my school only to .................. that it was Sunday! I hope I never have a day as the one I had .......................


BIBLIOGRAPHY
Brown, H. D. 2002. Language Assessment: Principles and Classroom Practices. San Fransisco: San Fransisco State University Press.

Davis, Paul and Rinvolucri, Mario. 1993. Dictation-New Methods New Possibilities. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Departemen Pendidikan Nasional. 2004. Kurikulum 2004 Standar Kompetensi; Mata pelajaran Bahasa Inggris Kelas 4-6 SD dan MI. Jakarta

Harris, P. David. 1969. Testing English as a Second Language. McGraw- Hill, Inc.

Hornby, AS. 1995. Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary. New York: Oxford University Press.

Lado, R. 1964. Language Testing. London: Longman Group Ltd.

Madsen, Harold S. 1983. Techniques in Testing. New York: Oxford University Press.

Montalvan, Ruth. 2006. Dictation Updated: Guidelines for Teacher-Training Workshops. 

http:/exchanges.state.gov/education/engteaching/dictatn.htm. (Acessed on 14 August 2006)

Nunan, David. 1992. Research Method in Language Learning. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Oller, J.W. 1979. Language Test at School. London: Longman.

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