ESL Dictation Exercises For The Multilevel Classroom: Present Continuous

October 7, 2014

ESL Dictation exercises can be used for beginning to advanced students. I especially like using them in a multilevel classroom and pairing students of different levels together.

How To use ESL Dictation Excercises For The Multilevel Classroom

This is a fun dictation exercise that will get your students up and moving. It is a great ESL exercise for practicing listening, reading, and speaking skills.


1. Write a dialogue based on the grammar point OR theme/vocabulary you are working on.

2. Make one copy of the text for each group.


1. Divide the students into groups of 2. Pair a higher level students with a lower level student.

3. Tape copies of the text around the room far away from where students are sitting.

4. Tell the groups that one partner is the speaker and the other partner is the writer.

5. The speaker will go up to the text, memorize a phrase or sentence, and then walk back to their partner and tell them the phrase.

6. The writer will write down what they hear.

7. The speaker will repeat this exercise until they are half way finished with the dictation.

8. Switch roles and repeat the above.

Below is an example text I used for reviewing present continuous. Group A is the more advanced learners and Group B is the beginning-intermediate students.

Group A
Tracy: Hello, can I speak to Alex.
Alex: This is Alex, who is speaking?
Tracy: Hi, this is Tracy.
Alex: Hi Tracy. What are you doing?
Tracy: Oh, I’m just watching TV. What are you doing?
Alex: Well, I’m cooking dinner.
Tracy: What are you cooking?
Alex: I’m baking some potatoes, boiling some carrots and grilling a steak.
Tracy: It sounds delicious.
Alex: What are you doing for dinner tonight?
Tracy: Well, I don’t have any plans…
Alex: Would you like to come over for dinner?
Tracy: Oh, I’d love to. Thanks.
Alex: Great. Mary and Jack are also coming. They are arriving at seven.
Tracy: OK, I’ll be there at seven, too.
Alex: OK, see you then. Bye.
Tracy: Bye.

Group B
Amy is going to school to study English.
She always goes to school on time.
She usually rides her bike to school.
If it rains, she takes the bus.
At the moment, she is studying the present continuous in Grammar class.
We use the present continuous tense for something that is happening right now or is in progress. English class is hard, but Amy enjoys her teacher and her new friends.
She is looking forward to getting her Bachelor’s degree.