Teaching Oral Communication
Presented by Dr Sue Ollerhead – UNSW
24 May, 2018
Oracy - The ability to communicate effectively using speech
This course was particularly valuable for understanding the importance of oracy for not only EAL/D students but also for students in the mainstream classroom.
What became increasingly evident was that in order for students to write effectively, students need to first speak effectively. By students finding their voice within the classroom they develop the confidence to take risks with their oral development and consequently move from “everyday” language to academic language.
Why is the development of oral skills so important? Often it is a skill that comes second to the development of writing skills. In reality, we speak more than we write. Even beyond school - communication in the workplace is crucial, with listening and speaking being the most important. In fact, the most employable skills in most workplaces centres around listening and speaking.
The course further reinforced the fact that students need lots of opportunities to speak. In the classroom there needs to be deliberate conversation and teachers need toolkits to instigate discussions. These discussions should not be just confined to English, in fact there should be opportunities given in Maths, Science and other KLAs too. This requires teachers to have careful planning for talk. By talking through what they are doing, this helps build the academic language for students. From here students should be encouraged to articulate their learning. The result is that students become fluent and confident in their speaking and this flows on to their writing. Often, when there is too much teacher talk and not enough student talk, students don’t learn the language to think and then they don’t have the function to reason. Talk supports learning and can result in improved writing, greater critical thinking and a deeper understanding of a topic.