Literacy: Speaking and Listening
Speaking and listening is about developing the ability to:
- Listen and respond to others (adding to or arguing against)
- Speak and present (with increasing formality)
- Participate in group discussion and interaction
- Engage in drama, role-play and performance.
We focus on supporting and developing speaking and listening skills across the whole school curriculum.
Speaking and listening give us the basic skills we need to communicate with the world around us. The development of these skills doesn’t just stop when we learn how to talk and respond to others as young children.
Speaking and listening skills are the building block of literacy but can often be passed over when we focus on reading and writing. There is an assumption that pupils will simply “pick up” speaking and listening skills as they go through life. However, there is increasing recognition that both speaking and listening need active and consistent support. Under-developed ability in this area will also affect achievement in reading and writing across all subjects.
- One of the biggest barriers to speaking and listening can be confidence. Encourage your child to speak to you at home by asking them questions that require longer answers and not closed, short answers. Replacing ‘what’ at the start of a question with ‘how’ and ‘why’ can sometimes help develop this.
- Lead by example and share information about your own day and discuss with them what they think about the experiences you yourself have had. This will help encourage conversation and will further support speaking and listening development.
- It is impossible to ask students who dislike speaking in class to suddenly present and become more confident. It is a slow process. Try to prepare them as much as possible by practising any areas where they may be asked to speak aloud. You may find that confidence can be grown through adequate preparation and rehearsal.
- Students can sometimes be reluctant to speak or present information in an under-developed way if they are not secure on ideas or the correct terminology. A list of key words for subject specific areas can be found here. Encourage students to use them as much as possible and in discussion with you about the subject.
- There are lots of different types of talk that you can use with your child. These include: discussion, instruction, explanation, analysis, exploration, negotiation, speculation. Encourage conversation with your child which includes some of these varieties where they are able to utilise language differently and then ask questions of their own.
- When revising, encourage students to work together and to ‘learn’ from each other. They should take turns asking questions about the subject and then respond to the answers they are given with feedback.
- Use questions that involve higher order thinking – stems for these can be found here.
- Encourage students to listen to the radio or to informational podcasts on subjects of interest. Ask them to record the information they have listened to – they can even pause it and replay to ensure clarity.