Additional Info

  • Name: Dot-to-dot

  • Linguistic dimension

  • CEFR Level: A2, B1, B2, C1, C2
  • Linguistic dimension - Skill(s): Listening and reading comprehension skills
  • Duration: 50 minutes or 90
  • Target language: English or any language
  • ICT dimension

  • ICT resources:


    Resource: Photoshop or similar software in order to prepare the points schem

    any monolingual dictionary on line in order to look up examples given inside of number articles

    websites which give important dates

  • ICT competences: Students are expected to learn how to modify a picture with Photoshop or other CAD software To be able to place on the dot-to- dot schema numbers To develop or consolidate ability in finding number-related pieces of information in the web
  • Detailed description of the task

  • Situation / theme(s): Reading and listening comprehension of numbers or of dates of historical events
  • I can...:


    • A2 ….understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment, numbers up to 100).
    • …. communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters.
    • B1 …. understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc. numbers up to 1000 and dates
    • …. deal with most situations likely to arise while travelling in an area where the language is spoken.
    • …. produce simple connected text on topics that are familiar or of personal interest.


  • Product: The complete picture indirectly proving acquisition of the counting competence in L2
  • Product requirements or prerequisites:



    Counting competence in L1

  • Process:


    1st step

    Divide the class in groups; each groups prepares a dot to dot for the others.

    For A2 prepare a dot-to-dot game using a pattern of twenty dots. For B1 50 dots or more. (10-20 minutes)


    2st step

    Prepare a written list of words which express numbers (10 minutes)

    If we give a list of  numbers to read as in Mollica's examples A2 students can have a 50-dot list, but if we want them to listen to the numbers 20 is enough for A2, as shown by Ongaro (2014) experiment. Listening requires a greater effort of concentration, more numbers might lead the listeners to distraction and cause them to make errors.

    Association of numbers to each of the twenty dots (natural number from 0 to 100) is NOT to be done in the counting order. According to age and spirit of competition, this process can last from 10 to 20 minutes if arrangement is meant to be difficult.

    The number should be arranged in order to produce some difficult turning points in the path, where the student’s ability in recognizing number words can be better tested. Number words with similar phonemes, especially if these phonemes are extraneous to the mother language phonology, but also problems with the internal order of numbers names.

    The obvious critical points are:

    Group 1 - Discrimination between tens and unities:

    E.g. Forty-nine and ninety-four /

    Group 2 - Discrimination between number words with the same unit but different tens:

    E.g. Fifty-two and eighty-two

    Group 3 – For English discrimination between the voiceless dental fricative /θ/ and the voiceless labiodental /f/:

    E.g. thirty and forty

    For Italian: numerlogs with sounds like /kw/, /t/

    E.g. cinque, dieci, quattro, quindici

    Group 4 - For English discrimination between short and long vowels:

    E.g. -ty and -teen /

    For Italian: discrimination between short and long consonants

    E.g. sessanta settanta novanta

    For German: inverse order of tens and unities:

    E.g: zweiundzwanzig vs. twentytwo

    For French: vigesimal base: quatre-vingt-dix

    For Italian: different form ( -dici not -dieci ) and inverse order of tens and unities from 11 to 16.

    E.g.: uno undici, quattro quattordici, cinque quindici, sei sedici

    order tens and unities from 17 to 19 but with inserted letters

    E. g: diciassette, diciotto, diciannove.


    3rd step

    Teacher collects the dot-to-dot prepared by groups,  prints them and distributes three copies of the dot-to-dot A to the groups who prepared dot-to-dot B , C , D. The members of the group who has prepared the dot-to-dot A in turn read the list as many time as necessary for a group to complete the pattern and win the competition (15 min for 20 dots picture; 20-30 for 50 dots)

    With students able to use a software - Jmatch of Hot potatoes for instance – it is possible to prepare the exercise as a reading matching test. In such a case the exercise is easier. Students have to recognise the number words and reach the dot associated with the Arabic number which is written as a word in the list. This type of exercise can be proposed with more numbers and be performed on computer. It is however a far from natural task; it is more a kind of play.

    Teacher evaluation – Teacher gives a prize to the group who completes the pattern first in the listening contest

    Teacher monitors the tasks and can appreciate the degree of difficulty inserted in the list according to the above mentioned criteria.

    Vocabulary presentation - Groups of B2 level or B1 in a CLIL “math in L2” situation might prepare a dot-to-dot with ¾, 22, 23 and also with ordinal or as a result of operations as shown in Mollica 2008

    Dot-to-dot peer evaluation – Students decide which dot-to-dot was the most challenging.

  • Division of roles (optional): Software experts students who can prepare patterns and Jmatch should be put together with linguistically sensitive students who will prepare the sequence of number words and look for interesting dates. Both will learn strategies and pass on instructions and skills
  • Consolidating activities suggested or follow up plan:



    Setting homework – Students should be encouraged to play the dot-to-dot oral game with parents and the rest of the family; in this way they listen and repeat the number words

    Vocabulary usage in context – Teacher presents exercises in power point presentation made of sentences with missing number words

    E.g. Today it is the ...........

    Most of your teachers were born in the .......(1980-1989, 1990-1999 solution: eighties or nineties)

    Each group tries to find the appropriate word(s). The activity becomes more effective with ordinal numbers because sentences made with ordinal numbers are more natural and sometimes are found in idiomatic expressions.

    Role play with four season market situation, asking for prices and weights.

  • Success factors or evaluation criteria:



    To have a good command of numbers name in L1 To be aware of biggest differences in number words of L1 compared with number words of L2.
    Difficult numbers sequences show awareness of language specificity of number words.

  • Authors: Carla Marello, Giulia Ongaro
  • Acknowledgements: Anthony Mollica 2008 Recreational linguistics the “Dot-to-dot” activity in Mosaic vol. 10, No.4 Winter 2008 pp. 22-23 By permission of the Author and Editor Anthony Mollica 2010, Ludolinguistica e Glottodidattica. Prefazione di Tullio De Mauro. Postfazione di Stefano Bartezzaghi, Perugia, Guerra Edizioni. Giulia Ongaro (2014) Playing with numbers. The dot-to-dot game as a resource in EFL in RiCognizioni No:2 Winter 2014 pp. xx-yy
  • Didactic added value of the task and other information

  • Practical hints for teachers:



    Wise choice of the picture: not too telling otherwise students go from dot to dot without listening or reading but following the profile of the picture they have guessed.


  • Additional methodological or didactic comments:



    Set precise deadlines to conclude the first parts of the task. If students don´t finish after the 2nd step in class they cannot finish it at home. Foresee a longer lesson.

    Be precise in setting the goal of the task (listening number words seeing both written number words and Arabic numbers; guessing the date number words appropriate for a certain cultural question choosing it among many possible dots with Arabic numbers).

    Explaining the evaluation criteria for cultural questions, otherwise students will come up with any type of dates.

  • Reasons why this task is a model of best practices:



    The task was created to develop listening and production skills of number words which are not usually practised enough during the syllabuses and foreign language programmes. Mollica’s long life experience shows that playing with dot-to-dot is effective; Ongaro’ s experience gave further evidence; we added the “create the game yourself” modality in order to induce more reflection on the structure and sounds of number words which are more language specific than generally expected.

  • Reasons why this task travels well:



    This task can be introduced in most national syllabuses and foreign language programmes and can be easily modulated according to age of students.


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