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  1. #1
    Kengo is offline Junior Member
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    Dictation VS Transcription

    Hello people,

    Many language schools recommend 'dictation' as a good way to improve listening ability in English, which is to listen to a spoken material and write down what you hear.
    I have nothing against this theory but the exercise seems as if it should be called 'transcription' rather than dictation.

    Let me include the difinitions of these two words that my dictionary shows.
    Dictation: when someone speaks or reads something for someone else to write down.
    Transcription: a written record of speech, music, etc, or the process of making it.

    Any thoughts, advice would be much appriciated.

  2. #2
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    Route21 is offline Senior Member
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    Re: Dictation VS Transcription

    Hi Kengo

    As a NES, but not a teacher, I would offer my understanding of the subtle difference:

    When I used to commute, by train, into London, I would regularly find a quiet spot in the corridor and dictate telexes (in those days) into a small hand-held tape recorder, for the secretary to transcribe as telexes the next day.
    I might also have drafted a handwritten response to a letter and the secretary would transcribe my handwritten material into either a formally typed letter or a telex.

    In the case of dictation, a person actually dictates the information to the person recording, in writing, the text concerned. Transcription means transcribing information from one [storage] system to another.

    See:
    dictate - definition of dictate by the Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia.
    To say or read aloud to be recorded or written by another: dictate a letter.
    transcribe - definition of transcribe by the Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia.
    To make a full written or typewritten copy of (dictated material, for example).

    Hope this helps
    Regards
    R21

  3. #3
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    Raymott is offline VIP Member
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    Re: Dictation VS Transcription

    Quote Originally Posted by Route21 View Post
    Hi Kengo

    As a NES, but not a teacher, I would offer my understanding of the subtle difference:
    That's a very good summary, but I think the OP already knows the difference, and is therefore asking why the transcription exercises are called 'dictation'.

  4. #4
    Kengo is offline Junior Member
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    Re: Dictation VS Transcription

    Hi Route 21
    Thanks for your response and the links.
    I see some good hints in your post but I could not feel clear.
    I'm afraid I might not have stated my question well in the first place.


    Thanks Raymott for your comment.
    That's exactly how I'm struggling..!!


    In my humble understanding, dictation requires the act of speaking aloud and to transcribe, you're much more likely to be writing.
    On the contrary, I never speak a single word when I do the form of 'dictation' that language schools encourage students to do.
    Could anyone please explain the logic?
    Last edited by Kengo; 14-Apr-2011 at 09:31.

  5. #5
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    Re: Dictation VS Transcription

    From the defintions given by both Kengo and R21, the teacher is dictating, the students transcribing. The name of this activity focuses on the teacher, rather than the listener. It's true that the names given to most classroom activities refer to what the learner is doing and this one to what the teacher is doing, but I don't see an enormous problem with this.

  6. #6
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    Route21 is offline Senior Member
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    Re: Dictation VS Transcription

    Hi Kengo

    Not sure I fully understand the problem, but based on your comment:

    "On the contrary, I never speak a single word when I do the form of 'dictation' that language schools encourage students to do."

    The language school tutor presumably does the dictation either directly to the student or, as in my case with the secretary, via a "Dictaphone" or other tape/disc-based system. The student then transcribes what they believe they hear the tutor saying.

    In a Law Court (or in Parliament) I might use the term "transcription", as the speakers are not specifically "dictating" what is being transcribed.

    Does this answer your concerns?

    Regards
    R21

  7. #7
    freezeframe is offline Key Member
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    Re: Dictation VS Transcription

    A simple answer is: because that's what it's called. Writing a dictation involves transcribing what the teacher is reading. The accepted word for this activity in a classroom is dictation.

  8. #8
    Kengo is offline Junior Member
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    Re: Dictation VS Transcription

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    The name of this activity focuses on the teacher, rather than the listener. It's true that the names given to most classroom activities refer to what the learner is doing and this one to what the teacher is doing
    Quote Originally Posted by freezeframe View Post
    The accepted word for this activity in a classroom is dictation.
    Thank you fivejedjon and freezeframe

    My problem was I did not take it as the mere name of the exercise and the original meanings of those words had me stuck.
    I should have been a bit more flexible and looked at it from a different angle.

    Thanks again

  9. #9
    Kengo is offline Junior Member
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    Re: Dictation VS Transcription

    Quote Originally Posted by Route21 View Post
    The language school tutor presumably does the dictation either directly to the student or, as in my case with the secretary, via a "Dictaphone" or other tape/disc-based system. The student then transcribes what they believe they hear the tutor saying.

    In a Law Court (or in Parliament) I might use the term "transcription", as the speakers are not specifically "dictating" what is being transcribed.
    Thank you Route 21

    I appriciate your explanation. It does help me understand those words better.
    I think I can use them more confidently now.


    Thank you all again. It's always very instructive here.

  10. #10
    rockenrolla828 is offline Just Joined
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    Re: Dictation VS Transcription

    Hello people, i've read about your discussion and i have to say that it's really interesting. I suggest you to check out this site and try out their dictation and transcription software













    it's life saving and really easy to use. You won't regret it, give it a chance and your mind will be made off. Enjoy!

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