The traditional dictation is no longer popular in the French class. To teach students to master grammar well, it is better to rely on new forms of so-called “intelligent” dictation, which have proven themselves by getting students to think about what they write.
Zero fault dictation, dictation of the day, commented dictation… The formulas vary, the principle remains the same: to encourage students to ask themselves the right questions in order to solve a problem related to spelling. Dictation then becomes a way of learning, rather than an assessment tool.
“You cannot write in French without thinking. To master a language, you have to understand it,” says Carole Fisher, professor at the University of Quebec at Chicoutimi, who has carried out several studies demonstrating the effectiveness of these practices.
When the Journal appeared in December, the students had to identify the verbs, pronouns or prepositions in the following sentence: “In the cottages in Quebec, during the holiday season, up to twenty inhabitants can gather if they are vaccinated”. The goal: to understand how the sentence is constructed, which will help students write it correctly.
“The key is to do it every day. After a few months, my students, even the weakest, are able to analyze any sentence,” says the teacher.
Every two weeks, Ms. Tardif’s students are also entitled to a commented dictation. The teacher does not just dictate words to her students, she shows them what questions they need to ask themselves in order to correct themselves, without however giving them the answer.
“Is that word a verb? If so, what do I pair it with? This pronoun replaces who in the sentence? I will explain to them everything that is going on in my brain, how I would have corrected this dictation, ”explains Ms. Tardif.
“It’s the most profitable thing I do in terms of correction. I show students how to make them think, so that they ask themselves the same questions when they revise their own texts,” she adds.
For her part, Mrs. Fisher insists on the importance of relying on these practices from the third year of elementary school until secondary school, while insisting on the “critical period” which is at the end of elementary school. “We must not miss this appointment,” she says.