Drawing dictations

I have no idea who I stole this idea from, but it worked really well so I’m going to share it here!

I used it with elementary students. They had done this exercise for homework:

New English File Elementary WB p53 Unit 6C
New English File Elementary Workbook, page 53, Unit 6C

We checked the answers in class, and they were fine, but I wanted them to really notice the language. One student drew a picture for each idea in the text, numbering them from 1 to 10 to help her. (She was early and this was a way to help her before the other students arrived!) These are the final five pictures:

Drawing dictation images

She’s a much better artist than me! By the time she had finished, the rest of the class had arrived. They used the pictures to reconstruct the text on the board. It’s a small group, so using the board enables them to easily change their mind about the text. Students could also use mini whiteboards, tablets/phones, or good old-fashioned pen and paper!

Reconstructing the drawing dictationOnce they were happy with their version of the text, they compared it to the original and asked me questions about differences they didn’t understand, particularly why ‘three-month-old’ had no ‘s’. They spoke a mix of English and Russian, and were engaged and motivated, arguing about whose memory of the text was better.

13 thoughts on “Drawing dictations

  1. Nice idea! I’ve done some similar things before such as dictating a picture for my students to draw and then having them reconstruct my description based on the picture in front of them and what they remember. There is also a speaking activity for the Flyers test in which they have to tell a story based on a set of pictures – sometimes I reverse it and get them to create/complete pictures based on a short story. All good ways to get them to process and/or recall the input differently. 🙂


    1. I seem to remember you blogged about the Flyers activity, right?
      I really like getting the students to draw in class. They’re quite often reluctant at the beginning (although this student wasn’t!), but it breaks down barriers and promotes laughter, especially when they realise how bad I am at art! My art teacher at school would be amazed that I do so much drawing now 😉


    1. Hi Christopher,
      Thanks for the comment, and I’m so pleased that the interview inspired you to start your blog. It looks great!
      The easy answer to blogging so much is having no life 😉 I drafted five posts yesterday and didn’t go out! But I enjoy it, so it’s good all round, or at least I tell myself that 😉
      Your lesson plans look great – I’m looking forward to trying some of them out.


  2. Hi Sandy
    I love this idea. I remember doing something similar once with a CAE class after doing an open cloze exercise. I think I only had them recreate the text verbally though, which isn’t as useful. Next time!


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