The Essential Speaking and Listening: Talk for Learning at Key Stage 2

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Creating a Speaking and Listening Classroom: Integrating Talk for Learning at Key Stage 2

Educational Psychologist , 48 3 , pp. In Speaking Frankly: the case for Oracy in the curriculum. British Educational Research Journal , 30, 3, Learning, Culture and Social Interaction ,1, pp. London: Routledge. Learning and Instruction, 48, pp. Millard, W. Norman, K. Resnick, L.


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Resnick, C. Asterhan and S. Clarke eds. Stanford, P. The Telegraph, June Ambition world class skills and jobs for the UK. Vygotsky, L. Webb, N. Journal of the Learning Sciences , 15, pp. Wegerif, R. Eds Computers and Talk in the Primary Classroom. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

Language Research - Cambridge Papers in ELT

This sometimes led to parents avoiding teaching their children two languages. However, the general consensus of researchers today is that growing up bilingual has more cognitive advantages than disadvantages.

School Conversation, School Dialogue

For example, it seems that bilingual children perform better in non-verbal problem-solving tasks which depend on selective attention or inhibitory control; it seems that their abilities to control and select have been enhanced through exercising linguistic choices between different languages. Research on bilingualism also supports the view that some Oracy skills are not language specific.

The Big Picture

Likewise, people who have learned to listen carefully to what others say and have learned the basic social rules for using talk effectively for working in a team, should be able to apply what they know in more than one language setting. For example, it is a common observation that in Dutch culture expressing personal opinions directly and forthrightly in public discussions is normal, while in Japanese and Mexican cultures that may be seen as insensitive or even rude with the British somewhere in the middle.

The concept was championed in the UK by the National Oracy Project in the late s, but fell into disuse when government priorities became focused narrowly on reading, writing and mathematics. Elsewhere, it was kept alive by the foundation in of the Oracy Australia Association; but it never caught on in the USA and does not seem to have been translated into other world languages. However, the term is now being used more widely and internationally, reflecting a growing awareness of the educational and social importance of spoken language skills.

It remains the most succinct and precise term for referring to the skills involved in using talk to communicate effectively across a range of social contexts. He has worked extensively and internationally with teachers, researchers and educational policy makers. She is a member of the centre Oracy Cambridge at Hughes Hall, University of Cambridge and regularly provides professional development workshops for teachers on Oracy and talk for learning. Also available on the Better Learning website. Converting the types of skills listed in the Oracy Skills Framework above into teaching goals or learning intentions is, of course, a necessary and potentially demanding task.

It can help if, for each category, a specific skill is identified and pursued in a lesson, or through a series of lessons. In principle, an Oracy curriculum could be constructed to cover all the specific skills in each category of the Oracy Skills Framework. In practice, teachers will have to be selective, focusing on those features which they judge that their students need most. It is important for both teachers and students to have a clear conception of which skills are being targeted to ensure progression, and to enable assessment.

The teaching of a specific skill can proceed by introducing and explaining the skill, teaching how to use it by modelling examples and providing immersive experience in its use. Such Oracy input should be followed by teacher-led discussions and peer evaluations of the use of the specific skill, and further evaluation as the skill is assimilated into practice.

For example, in their report of the lead primary school in the Camden Oracy Project in London a school which includes many students for whom English is a second language , the inspectors commented:. We will discuss the use of such talk-focused pedagogy in relation to two important domains: collaborative group work and public speaking, with a brief note on teaching the key skills of listening.

Research on classroom-based group work reveals a paradox: it has shown that collaborative learning can be very effective for curriculum learning, but that simply putting children together to work in groups is often unproductive. The paradox can be resolved in the realisation that children will only work well together if they have learned how to do so; and that is only likely to be the case if they have been taught the relevant Oracy skills. Research has also shown that one of the strongest influences on how children talk during group work is the way their teacher talks with them.

There appear to be two crucial steps in this process.

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This is a way of using language for thinking collectively or interthinking. This kind of approach has been found to be effective with children as young as six years old. They invite one another to contribute, asking for explanation, reasons and elaboration. They listen and respond, continuing the discussion until their group can agree on a joint decision.

Transcript 1: Group Agreement pdf is an extract from a whole class discussion in which 9- and year old children and their teacher T set about considering the issue of talking to reach an agreement within a group.

Assessing Oracy

It illustrates how a teacher can familiarise students with the idea of Exploratory Talk and how it can be used in group work. They are predicting how many sheets of paper will completely obscure a light source. They have been asked to do so using Exploratory Talk. It can be seen that the children ask each other for information and opinions; they seek reasons and provide them and evaluate any proposals that are made.


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The group members work towards a joint conclusion. Opinions are treated with respect, and each speaker has the opportunity to develop their ideas. For Exploratory Talk to be taken up and used by students, research suggests that a teacher needs to:. They should ask children to give reasons to support their views, engage them in extended discussions of topics, and encourage them to see what makes discussion productive;. In summary, research has shown that simply asking students to work in groups may not be productive.

But research has shown that if students are taught how to use Exploratory Talk, group activity can be a powerful aid to learning. Indeed, it is rather that expressly teaching children how to use spoken language is key to developing their social confidence. Innovative institutions which have prioritised Oracy education, such as School 21 in the UK, have used techniques in which students begin by preparing short 5 minute talks on a topic of their choice.

They are taught the skills they need to prepare and give this talk. They then present to a group of peers who each will also make a speech. Constructive feedback is given by both the teacher and group members.


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Recent publications by two British charitable trusts involved in promoting Oracy, the English-Speaking Union and Voice21, have gathered evidence to argue for the value of training children in the skills of public presentation and debate. However, such activities are not strategies for the teaching of Oracy skills.