Components of effective oral language

Contributed by:
This manual has been designed by members of the Professional Development Service for
Teachers. Its sole purpose is to enhance teaching and learning in Irish primary schools and will be mediated to practicing teachers in the professional development setting.
1. Five Components of
Effective Oral
Language Instruction
2. “Oral Language is the child’s first, most important, and most frequently used structured
medium of communication. It is the primary means through which each individual child will
be enabled to structure, to evaluate, to describe and to control his/her experience. In
addition, and most significantly, oral language is the primary mediator of culture, the way in
which children locate themselves in the world, and define themselves with it and within it”
(Cregan, 1998, as cited in Archer, Cregan, McGough, Shiel, 2012)
At its most basic level, oral language is about communicating with other people. It involves a
process of utilizing thinking, knowledge and skills in order to speak and listen effectively. As
such, it is central to the lives of all people.
Oral language permeates every facet of the primary school curriculum. The development of
oral language is given an importance as great as that of reading and writing, at every level,
in the curriculum. It has an equal weighting with them in the integrated language process.
Although the Curriculum places a strong emphasis on oral language, it has been widely
acknowledged that the implementation of the Oral Language strand has proved challenging
and “there is evidence that some teachers may have struggled to implement this component
because the underlying framework was unclear to them” (NCCA, 2012, pg. 10)
In light of this and in order to provide a structured approach for teachers, a suggested
model for effective oral language instruction is outlined in this booklet. It consists of five
components, each of which is detailed on subsequent pages.
Promote Develop
Auditory Listening &
Memory Speaking Skills
Components of
Effective Oral
Teach and Instruction
Extend Teach a
Vocabulary and Variety of
Conceptual Spoken Texts
Create a
Environment 2
Adapted from Eisenhart C. 1990
3. Develop
Listening &
Speaking Skills
Below is an article which relates to these 5 elements for effective language instruction and
which contains useful information regarding the skills of speaking and listening.
The early years are a period in which young children are using language to learn not only
about their world but also how language can be used to serve many purposes. This
knowledge is referred to as pragmatic knowledge (Otto, 2006). One component of pragmatic
knowledge is conversational skills. Ninio and Snow (1999) as well as Weiss (2004) assert that
how well children develop conversational skills can influence how well they interact with
others (as cited in Otto, 2006). To a certain degree, children pick up this knowledge naturally,
but an astute teacher or parent plays a vital role in assisting children in their ability to be
good conversationalists.
Conversing with children is not the only way to increase vocabulary, however. Strategies
teachers use while reading with and to children can also build their word banks. Asking open
ended questions (questions in which there is no right or wrong answer and to which the
adult does not “know” the answer) helps teachers assess children’s comprehension but also
helps them learn more vocabulary words (Whitehurst et al., 1988, as cited in Wasik,
2006).Kerry (1982) asserts that the vast majority (approximately 80%) of “teacher talk” in
classrooms is focused on tasks: giving instructions, providing information, or correcting
behaviour or information. Of this talk, 80% of it consists of low-level questions that ask
children to recall information rather than open-ended questions requiring children to think at
higher levels (as cited in Jalongo, 2008). A very important consideration in using any
questioning technique is the “wait time” given to children as they formulate their response.
In addition to giving children ample time to formulate answers, how teachers respond at
that point can encourage or discourage future participation in discussions (Otto, 2006).
Attentive body language, expanding children’s responses, asking clarifying questions, and
using reflective listening techniques are ways to support children’s continued participation in
current and future dialogues (Otto, 2006).
The obvious partner to participating in talk is the ability to listen. Conversation is a two way
communication experience. Although children’s oral, or expressive, language often gets
emphasized, receptive language, or listening, is equally important. Naturally, the ability to
listen is also a key component in learning. It is the way children take in information through
hearing and interpret that information. Children (and adults) can be taught to be good
listeners. A primary way of helping children participate as listeners and speakers in
conversations is for teachers to model good listening and speaking techniques themselves.
Following are some things teachers can do to increase children’s listening and speaking
4.  When children are speaking, get down to their eye level. It is difficult to keep up a
conversation with someone when you must keep looking up.
 Treat children as if they are skilled at conversation. Give them your full attention and
focus on what they say. Ask open-ended questions to follow up on what they share.
 Speak to all children, even those who may have language delays or who are English
language learners.
 Ask children questions about things to which you do not know the answer. Questions
that ask children to reflect on a topic or to formulate opinions and explain them not
only show children that you value their ideas but also encourage them to think about
their own feelings and ideas. Don’t give up if children don’t respond well the first
time. Sometimes this kind of questioning and responding takes more deliberate
probing and time for children to develop this skill.
 Help children learn to listen to one another. When adults value listening to children
and to each other, children will notice this. Adults must also, however, be intentional
in giving children the skills to listen to one another. Some teachers find that giving
the speaker a prop, such as a stuffed animal or other small object, while speaking to
the group helps distinguish whose turn it is to talk (Jalongo, 2008).
 Limit group time and small group discussions to a reasonable time limit for young
children. Their ability to stay attuned to a lengthy discussion is incomplete at this
age. When attention is wandering, it is best to bring closure to the activity and
transition to something else. Record, both by writing on chart paper and audio,
transcripts of discussions so that children can hear and have read back to them
things that were shared.
 Value all the home languages of the children in the class, including sign language for
the hearing impaired. For the benefit of English language learners and everyone else,
learn some of the key words and phrases in the languages represented in the group,
record them, create word/picture cards, and provide them in a listening centre. This
way, children can learn some important words in another language and support the
speaker of that language (Jalongo, 2008).
 Help children learn to listen and to ask questions by having “Show and Ask” rather
than “Show and Tell.” As children bring in items or objects to talk about, have the
rest of the group think of questions to ask the speaker about the item. This helps
children become better listeners as well as learn how to ask questions (Jalongo,
Deason (2012)
What needs to be taught?
There are certain elements that need to be explicitly taught before embarking on formal
instruction of oral language. These are;
 Awareness of broad rules that govern social interaction
 Non-verbal behaviours
 Rules for listening
 Rules for speaking
5. Awareness of broad rules that govern social interaction:
In order to teach speaking and listening skills, teachers will need to create awareness of the
way conversation works by considering the “rules” to be observed by good speakers and
listeners. These are often unconscious.
 Turn-taking
 The Floor
 Adjacency pairs
 Repair
 Politeness
Turn Taking: turn taking is very important for an effective speaker listener relationship.
Students need to recognize pauses in a conversation where they can take a turn, interrupt,
ask a question or change the subject. Teachers can explicitly teach turn taking so that all
pupils are encouraged to speak e.g. circle time where everybody has a turn, asking students
to work with a partner and choose who will go first.
The Floor: the person who is currently speaking is the person who “holds the floor”. During
conversations, speakers and listeners use eye contact, body language, gestures, and pauses
to judge when a new voice can take the floor.
Adjacency Pairs: these are the sequences of two utterances next to each other, produced
by two different speakers e.g. a question and an answer, a greeting and a response. This
can work well to help develop the everyday social interactions of pupils.
How are you? Very well thank you!
Repair: repair takes place when a speaker has to “fix” something they have said e.g. “I said
seen, I meant saw”. Sometimes the listener can seek a repair which could be expressed
through a facial expression or body language or check for meaning by asking a question such
as “What do you mean? ” or “I don’t understand”. Pupils need to be encouraged to check
that they understand what another person is saying and to check that others understand
Non-verbal behaviours
Communicating is more than just words. The manner in which we use voice, facial
expression, and body language affects the messages we are trying to give. Students are not
always aware that their posture or the way they approach another person speaks volumes
in itself. By creating awareness around the expressive nature of the way a person uses their
body and voice, teachers can help pupils to become critically aware of the non-verbal
behaviours that will equip them to express themselves in an effective manner.
6. What are these non-verbal behaviours?
 Use of voice: The use of intonation and pauses that convey meaning and attitude
 Volume: Volume depends on the needs of the situation, purpose and audience.
There are times when loud voices are required such as in a play, or during assembly.
There are also times when quiet voices are necessary such as working in the library.
Generally speaking a voice should be loud enough that the intended audience can
hear and understand the message being delivered. The use of varying volume will
help to create emphasis or drama when recounting events, telling a story or
persuading an audience.
 Intonation: Intonation indicates the changes in speech; a downward intonation
indicates that a message is complete, while an upward intonation indicates a
 Pitch: Pitch is useful to use when expressing emotion. Our pitch rises when we are
excited and lowers when we are sad.
 Pauses: Pauses are moments of silence between phrases, used to separate ideas and
also used for holding attention. This is particularly useful when giving formal
presentations such as an oral report or telling a story.
 Pronunciation: Pronunciation refers to the way words are said. Some younger pupils
may have difficulty in pronouncing the sounds in some words and will benefit from
hearing those words modeled in meaningful contexts. Pronunciation varies across
regions. It is important that pupils know the accepted pronunciation of words in
Standard English.
 Proximity: Proximity is the amount of personal space between people who are
talking. The relationship between them, their personalities, and their culture or
whether the situation is personal, social or public will all affect the amount of
proximity needed.
 Eye contact: Eye contact is the use of the eyes or gaze in face to face
communication. The level of eye contact often depends on the relationship between
the communicators and affects both the speaker and the listener.
Developing Listening Skills:
According to LeLoup and Pontero:
“Listening is arguably the most important skill used for obtaining comprehensible input in
one’s first language and in any subsequent languages. It is a pervasive communicative event.
We listen considerably more than we read, write or speak.” (LeLoup and Pontero, 2007)
In order to teach listening skills teachers need to:
 Explicitly model how to be good listeners
 Show the children footage of what good listening looks like
 Schedule quiet, listening opportunities as part of the school day
 Provide spaces in the classroom that encourage conversation and attentive
listening, e.g. ‘The shop’, ‘The doctor’s surgery’
 Create organic learning charts to capture what good listening is
7. Possible ways of achieving this include:
 Give simple instructions and directions during all learning activities
 Ask relevant questions
 Read stories aloud to the children and encourage them to re-tell the story in
 Encourage note-taking using frameworks
 Use dictation drills
 Play games
 Use taped stories and questions
 Gather information
 Complete cloze type activities or unfinished sentences or stories
 Conduct Interviews
 Base topic work on content of radio programmes
 Sequence sentences, ideas and stories
 Listen to songs, poetry and music
 Use instructional exercises
Developing Speaking Skills:
In order to teach effective speaking skills teachers need to:
 explicitly model effective speaking in a formal and informal manner
 provide opportunities for students to engage in conversational-style speaking e.g.
using the shop area, providing scenario cards
 give students tasks that involve observing and recording effective speaking
 use role-playing to teach and reinforce good conversational skills
 carry out activities where the whole class read aloud
 teach the rules that govern social interaction as mentioned above
 create organic charts to capture the mannerisms associated with effective speaking
such as the non-verbal behaviours mentioned above
8. Activities to develop speaking and listening skills:
 Act It Out
This is a small group activity designed to give pupils time to decide what they would do in
different situations. It provides them with the opportunity to discuss the information they
need to include and to try to find ways of improving their speaking and listening.
1. At the table pick a scenario card and discuss these questions, what is happening?
How do we know? What will we say and do so that everybody knows what we
mean? How can we say this so that it sounds like the talk we use in school? What will
we do to show that we understand what is being said?
2. You need to decide who will act out the part and where the action will start, before,
during or after the event on the card.
3. Try acting it out.
4. Students can then reflect on these questions, what made sense and why? where else
could we listen like this?, where else could we speak like this? What would we say
differently next time and why?
Suggested Scenario Cards
Mary is throwing blocks Oops you have knocked over a carton of
John has taken Bill’s coat by mistake There is no towel in the bathroom
 People I Talk To, People I Listen To
This activity provides pupils with an opportunity to discuss the different purposes for
speaking and listening. Teachers can draw on contexts inside and outside the classroom.
Use a variety of photographs or pictures of people that the pupils meet or interact with on a
daily and weekly basis.
1. Choose a picture and discuss using the following questions, when do we talk to …?
What do we talk about with….? How do we speak when we talk to….?
2. Repeat with other pictures emphasising choices that are made according to topics
that may be discussed or the purpose of the speaking.
9. Teach a
Variety of
Spoken Texts
The primary purpose of language is to communicate needs, wants, ideas, information and
feelings. Many theorists claim that the different purposes for which we use language fall
under various categories. One seminal piece of research was carried out by British linguist,
Michael Halliday who proposed a list of 7 functions of language commonly known as
“Halliday’s Functions of Language (1972)”. These are listed below:
Function Used for Demands language of
Instrumental Expressing needs/Getting things done Asking, Requesting, Explaining
Regulatory Influencing the behaviour, Setting tasks, Managing, Negotiating,
feelings/attitudes of others Instructing, Directing , Controlling
Interactional Getting along with others Initiating, Sympathising, Reconciling
Arguing, Encouraging, Empathising
Personal Expressing individuality and personal Stating opinions, Confronting, Expressing
feelings thoughts and feelings, Recounting
Heuristic Seeking and learning about the social and Interrogating, Discussing, Asking,
physical environment Querying,
Investigating, Clarifying
Imaginary Creating stories, games, new worlds and Storytelling, Anticipating, Predicting,
new texts Imagining, Playing, Experimenting
10. Representational Communicating Information Telling, Lecturing, Stating facts, Sharing
skills, Commenting, Imparting knowledge,
There are a variety of oral language texts/genres (similar to written genres) that teachers
can use to address the functions of language that are required in social and academic
The table below illustrates some of the different types of text:
A Selection of Different Text-types
 Oral Reports  Conversations
 Storytelling and Anecdotes  Questioning and Interviews
 Partner and Small Group Work  Arguments and Formal/Informal
 Giving Instructions/Procedures
Students need to understand and know how the range of oral language texts will operate in
different contexts. Therefore as teachers we need to establish classroom structures and
procedures that allow students to develop their understandings of the different forms that
oral language texts take, as well as providing opportunities for pupils to purposefully
practice these forms in a variety of settings.
It is important when addressing the different types of language to give consideration to
 The range of different social contexts of language (formal or informal, familiar or
 The range of cultural contexts for language (local, community, institutional)
 The possible participants in a conversation and the relationship between them (the
people who are known, unknown, students, peers, adults)
Definitions and Activities to Support Implementation
Oral Reports
Oral Reports give students experience in selecting and organising information that will suit
specific purposes, situations and audiences. Reports can be planned such as reporting on a
project (“The Lion”) and unplanned such as the plenary part of a lesson (How did your group get
on?). Oral reports are those based on a shared focus of interest or particular topics being studied
at that particular point in time. Subjects like science and geography lend themselves to
organising reports e.g. a report on the life-cycle of the butterfly, a report on volcanos, especially
if students have been involved in group work first.
11. Language Function Text Type Text Structure and Language Features
Representational Oral Reports Text Structure
Communicating Can be planned or  Description, explanation, report, recount
Information, unplanned
expressing Language Structures and Features
propositions  Subject-specific concepts and words depending on
the topic
 Key Words
Personal  Words that signal opinion
Expressing Knowledge Skills and Understanding
individuality and  Can structure a report so that it contains enough
personal feelings detail for the listener to follow and understand
 Clarify new learning
 Can actively listen
Metalinguistic Awareness
 Language use clear and precise
 Pace
 Understand how props can support
communicative efforts
Specific Language skills
 Select and organize information
 Identify key facts
 Contextualise information
 Explain
 Compress Information
Activities for Developing Oral Reports
TV/radio Reports
Teacher can play segments of a range of TV or radio reports such as news, weather, and
documentaries to create awareness amongst pupils. This will afford pupils the opportunity
to listen to and analyse the specific language structures and features that make up this
spoken text-type. The pupils can record key information under the 5W headings who,
when, where, what, why.
My News
This activity provides a framework for pupils to give an oral news report based on their own
experiences. The 5W framework may be used here.
12. Today’s News Report
Allow the pupils to create and present a news report based on something that happened
within school e.g. a mouse in the classroom, in the locality e.g. local team won the county
final, or indeed in the country/world e.g. President Obama being re-elected. Using a box as
the television screen will act as an aid for the presentation of the report. Recording the
report to re-play and self-assess may also be useful.
Allow time for pupils to present project work in the form of an oral report.
Speech Pyramid
The Speech Pyramid is a graphic organiser that is used to record observations about the
range of speech that occurs in speech situations. With appropriate support, speech
pyramids can be used at all class levels.
Storytelling and Anecdotes
Telling stories, recalling events and relating personal anecdotes has been how many cultures
and societies have preserved and passed on their traditions. We constantly communicate
information through stories e.g. “Wait until I tell you a good one about what happened to me
last week” etc. Storytelling is a vital part of everyday conversation and so should be an
important feature in all classrooms. “Narratives help students to connect what is happening in
the classroom with the real world; they provide a way of understanding, organising and
communicating experiences” (Ewing and Simmons, 2004). Teachers can extend storytelling skills
into performance opportunities such as a play, recital in drama.
13. Language Function Text Type Text Structure and Language Features
Imaginative Storytelling and Text Structure
Creating new Anecdotes  Narrative, recount, description, report, retelling
worlds, making up
stories and poems
Language Structures and Features
 Language to entertain and inform
 Language to express experiences and emotions
 Include an orientation, series of events, a
complication and a conclusion
 Descriptive vocabulary
 Variety in tone of voice, volume etc.
 Expressive body language
 Use of rhetorical questions
 Use of intensifiers (really, very, quite) to build
significance and create drama
Knowledge Skills and Understanding
 When to include an anecdote or story in
 How to include others in composing the anecdote
or story
 What to listen for e.g. who the characters are,
what the problem might be
 How to visualize when listening
Activities for Storytelling and Anecdotes
Model Good Story-telling
Read stories regularly to your students. When reading stories it is important to model best
practice: be as dramatic as possible so that the children learn to recognise how tone,
volume, and body language create suspense, interest and enjoyment.
Creating Character Profiles
Allow pupils to work with a variety of materials to help them generate ideas about
characters e.g. masks, hats, pictures, shoes. Afterwards ask them in pairs or small groups to
invent a character and to describe the character by including information such as where
they live, their age, what sort of family they have, what do they like to do in their spare
Story sacks
Story sacks are kits that are put together around a story. As the
story is told the children use the props to re-tell the story. There
are many websites that will give ideas for story sacks, such as
14. Circle Stories
The teacher may go first and start a story by describing a setting and introducing a
character. A student sitting next to the teacher will continue the story and then pass it on
to the next student etc.
Teacher; “When I was washing my
That’s Good; That’s Bad clothes last Saturday I found €20”
This is a fun interactive game useful for engaging shy or
reluctant speakers. The class sit in a circle. The teacher Pupils; “That’s good”
begins the story and includes fortunate event followed by
Teacher; “Then I heard a loud
an unfortunate event. The class respond with “that’s bang; somebody had kicked a ball
good” or “that’s bad” e.g. through my kitchen window by
mistake. It is going to cost €20 to
Varied Stories replace”
Model telling the class a wide variety of stories – spooky
stories, I remember when stories, dramatic stories, stories Pupils; “That’s bad”
from long ago. Allow pupils to share such stories.
Sound stories
A sound story tells a story using sound effects either in part or full. When using sound
stories discuss the story with the children and with them select sounds to use and to add to
the story. This is a natural way of integrating language learning with the music curriculum.
Here are some suggestions for sounds to use with the familiar fairytale The Three Little Pigs.
Events Sound effects
The three little pigs running around Vocal squeaks, bells played quickly
Wolf prowling around Drum repeated as footsteps
First little pig builds a straw house Rubbing palms, finger stroking drum skin,
scrunching paper
Readers’ Theatre
This involves groups of pupils assuming characters from a story and reading the script aloud
to the class. It allows a book to come alive and encourages pupils to consider volume, pace,
pausing, tone, gesture and facial expression when presenting. Readers’ Theatre can be
easily organised by following these steps;
 Choose a suitable text – many books and websites provide scripts for Readers’
 Decide which groups will be allocated to which character
 Ask the groups to highlight the text of their allocated character
 Ask groups to decide where sound effects and props could be used
 Allow time for groups to practice their lines as a group several times
 Allow time for the whole class recital of the text
15. This again is useful for the shy or reluctant speaker. Puppets are useful aids that pupils can
use when they are re-telling stories or presenting their own stories as they allow pupils to
practice the structures and features of narrative and to experiment with voice and volume.
Through drama, pupils are given opportunities to use language to entertain. Teachers may
organise drama through improvisational drama or through the use of scripts.
Partner and Small Group Work
Partner and small group work provides an authentic learning context in which student can develop
both speaking and listening skills. Pupils are allowed to become actively involved in the construction
of their own knowledge. This can often lead to greater understanding and internalisation of
material. Students are allowed to use language to interact and plan, take on a particular role such
as the manager, the recorder etc., develop a group activity and monitor and reflect on the
task/learning. Small group learning allows the teacher to effectively scaffold students’ learning by
providing guidance towards ensuring that the groups run smoothly, that allocated roles are working
and that learning is being fostered.
Language Function Text Type Text Structure and Language Features
Interactional Partner and Small- Text Structure
Getting along with Group Work  Students use language to interact and plan, to
others, negotiate roles, develop or maintain a play or
establishing group activity, monitor and reflect on the task
relative status Language Structures and Features
 Language to entertain and inform
Instrumental  Language to express experiences and emotions
Expressing  Include an orientation, series of events, a
needs/Getting complication and a conclusion
things done  Descriptive vocabulary
 Variety in tone of voice, volume etc.
 Expressive body language
 Use of rhetorical questions
 Use of intensifiers (really, very, quite) to build
significance and create drama
16. Knowledge Skills and Understanding
 Involve all people in a group
 Respond to what others say
 Listen to others and create space for them
 Develop and clarify thoughts and ideas
 Summarise and evaluate
 Manage time
 Prioritise
Language for Social Interaction
 Give feedback
 Allocate roles
 Request help
 Tutor
 Invite
 Reinforce
 Ask permission
Language for learning
 Suggest Ideas
 Evaluate  Share knowledge,
 Give and justify Persuade, Disagree
opinions  Reach consensus
 Initiate ideas for  Give instructions
thought and action  Consult
 Build on and extend  Challenge
others ideas  Explain
 Initiate discussion
Strategies for Partner and Small Group Work
Rules of Group Work
Rules are best established as a class for effective group work. Having collectively drawn up
the rules, display this as a poster somewhere prominent in the room.
Our Group Work Rules
We don’t all talk at the same time
We listen to one another
We give everybody a chance to say something
We help each other out
We share ideas
We take people’s ideas seriously
We don’t make anyone feel silly
We allow others to join in
17. Co-operative Learning Groups
In cooperative learning, team members are positively interdependent and a strong
emphasis is placed on individual and group accountability. It involves group reflection on
learning, team recognition and group responsibility for individual learning.
Here the teacher puts the pupils into groups and sets a task. Each pupil is given a particular
role to fulfil e.g. manager, reporter, recorder, time-keeper. These roles will need to have
been explicitly taught to pupils before they engage in a co-operative learning group. Sample
cards for these roles are in the appendix section.
Jigsaw is an example of a cooperative learning approach, which should include the key
elements of cooperative learning such as positive interdependence, individual and group
accountability. It involves group reflection on learning, team recognition and group
responsibility for individual learning.
Pupils are organised into groups to research a topic or to complete a task. Students will
need to explain or describe their new knowledge of the topic to other classmates; this helps
students to gain better understanding of the topic or the task. Students will need to listen
very carefully and ask questions if they are unsure about any element of the topic/task.
Steps to follow include:
 Divide the class into “home groups” of 4-6 pupils. Give each pupil a number within
their group
 Move students from their home group into “expert” groups, based on the numbers –
all the 3s go together etc. The “expert” group complete a specific task
 Students return to their “home group” having completed the task and share what
they have done or what they have found out
This is a way for pupils to pool their thoughts and ideas and to see things from different
perspectives. Pupils listen to a presentation, story, read a text, see a video and record their
ideas individually. As a class they pair up with a partner to share their ideas. A pair can team
up with another pair to “square” their ideas.
Partner Conversations
After listening to a story, pupils in pairs re-tell the story in sequence with as much detail as
they can remember.
Circle within a Circle
Pupils sit in 2 circles, one circle inside the other. Pupils in the inside circle discuss what they
know and what they have found out about a topic, character etc. Pupils on the outside take
notes and reflect on what they are hearing and share this with the inside group and may ask
questions to clarify thinking.
Listening Triads
Pupils work in groups of three, with pupils taking the role of speaker, questioner or
recorder. The speaker talks on a given topic e.g. gives an opinion on an issue, explains a
18. concept. The questioner asks questions in order to seek clarification. The recorder takes
notes in preparation for giving feedback.
Classroom conversations are dialogues that occur between students and teachers and between
students and students. They are used to create, negotiate or deepen the understanding of a
Language Function Text Type Text Structure and Language Features
Heuristic Conversations Text Structure
Seeking and  A sustained exchange that extends beyond the IRE
testing knowledge (Initiate, Response, Evaluate)
Interactional Language Structures and Features
Getting along with  Use linking words
others,  Technical language
establishing  Manage turn taking
relative status  Manage topic changes
 Repair communication breakdowns
Imaginative  Sustain conversations through building on others’
Creating new ideas and asking relevant questions
worlds, making up  Use non-verbal listening and speaking behaviours
stories and poems  Specific vocabulary for seeking information
 Give or request information
Representational  Provide background information if required
Communicating  Provide appropriate detail
Information, Knowledge Skills and Understanding
descriptions,  Can respond to questions and statements
expressing  Can identify key information
 Can identify different points of view
 Can express opinions and substantiate
Metalinguistic Awareness
 Consider listener’s needs
 Group processes , how to build on others ideas,
take turns, hold the floor
Activities to Develop Conversations
Discuss/reflect on something in terms of what went well and how it could be improved even
better if …
19. Conversation Stations
Conversation Stations are helpful for the development of high quality, consistent
conversations in the classroom. In Conversation Stations, children have the opportunity to
talk, get feedback on their language and to have appropriate language modelled to them. In
order to create a Conversation Station consider the following:
 Designated Space – table, display pocket chart, pictures, props,”Let’s talk about…..”
 One to one conversations - at the beginning, 10 min duration, max. two children
 Rules - establish at outset, talk and thoughtful listening, share purpose with children
 Message Board – “Time to Talk”, topics that arise can be discussed at later time at
Conversation Station
 Shy/Reticent Child - teacher initiated conversations, vocabulary theme, props,
“phone a friend”
 Conversation Essentials – Talk: Open-ended questions and feedback. This supports
child’s use and comprehension of language
Conversation Scenarios
This is a useful activity to involve pupils in a variety of telephone conversations. Pupils work
in pairs and are given a scenario card. They plan and discuss the card and type of
conversation in which they will engage and then with the use of real phones, carry out the
telephone conversation.
Scenario Card Examples
You have to phone a friend You have forgotten which Your friend has fallen from
to invite him/her to your page you must read for their bike, you must ring
birthday party homework and so have to their mother to explain
phone a classmate and ask what happened
Questioning and Interviews
Questioning encourages higher order thinking and forms the basis of enquiry. Good questioning
enhances understanding, as it provides opportunities to explain, clarify, probe, make connections
and identify problems and issues. Questioning encourages dialogue between students and
teachers and influences student’s use of questioning to promote their own learning. Self-
questioning enables students to reflect and assess their own results and efforts with a view to
making them better.
Interviews provide an authentic context for questioning. In an interview, students purposefully
practice asking questions and develop the skills to listen critically.
20. Language Function Text Type Text Structure and Language Features
Heuristic Questioning and Text Structure
Seeking and Interviews  Asking and answering open and closed questions
testing knowledge to serve a range of purposes
Language Structures and Features
 Use of closed questions as a strategy to elicit
specific information
 Use of open questions to elicit a range of
 Use of sentences that are grammatically well
formed and appropriate to the situation
 Logical Connectors
Knowledge Skills and Understandings
 Shaping questions to produce optimal information
 Stimulates and extends own thinking by
questioning to explore possibilities
 Clarifies own and others’ opinions
 Acknowledges another person’s idea, building on
another’s idea
 Frames questions to suit situation and person
Activities to Develop Questioning and Interviews
Applying Blooms Taxonomy to Questioning
Bloom’s Taxonomy is a classification of learning objectives and skills which increase in
complexity. The taxonomy can be applied to the use of questions as follows:
Knowledge (recall)
Tell, list, define, name, when, where, state, identify …
 Who?  What happened next?
 What?  How many?
 When?  What is the name of …?
 Where?  Which is true or false?
 How?
Comprehension (understanding)
Retell, summarise, describe, explain, predict, restate, estimate ...
 What is meant by?  What do you think will happen next?
 How would you describe?  What is the main idea?
 What is the difference?  Why did …?
 Can you tell me in your own words  Tell me about the ____’s size and shape.
 What is the main idea?  Can you provide an example of …?
Application (solving)
21. Solve, use, construct, classify, examine, illustrate, modify …
 What would happen if …?  What would you do next time?
 How would you …?  If you had to… what would you do?
 How might you use this?  Why is …. Significant?
 What information would you need to ….?  Devise a set of instructions for …
 In what other way can these be sorted?  Where have you seen something like this
 Can you draw a diagram of what you see? before?
Analysis (reasoning)
Analyse, compare, distinguish, examine, order, categorise, infer, investigate ...
 Which were facts and which were opinions?  What were the causes of...?
 What was the purpose of …?  What were the effects of …?
 What are the parts?  How are these the same?
 What might have happened if …?  What is the difference between …?
 What do you see as other possible outcomes?
Synthesis (creating)
Create, design, formulate, invent, imagine, devise, combine ...
 How can these be combined?  How could this process be rearranged?
 What conclusions are you making?  What is your plan for accomplishing this task?
 Can you design a … to …?  How can you use what you learned?
 Can you see a possible solution?  Why not compose ….?
 Can you develop a proposal which …
 What other ideas do you have for …?
Evaluation (judging)
Check, choose, prioritise, critique, hypothesise, judge, debate ...
 How could this be improved?  Which is better? Best?
 How would you rank order?  What is your top priority?
 What is the most important?  What criteria did you use?
 Justify your opinion …/how did you make your
Feely Bag
Items are placed in bags. Students must choose one and feel the bag, describe as much as
possible what it is they feel, and then attempt a guess as to what it is.
Taped TV/radio segments
Allow pupils to listen to taped interviews from the TV/radio. This is useful to allow the
pupils to become familiar with which types of questions were asked and how the
interviewee responded. It also allows pupils to be aware of and for the teacher to explicitly
teach the stages of an interview e.g. how to introduce an interview, how to ask a variety of
questions, how to end an interview.
Give it a Go
Propose a genuine purpose for conducting an interview such as: how pupils feel about the
“Green Flag” project, what life was like when our grandparents were our age. Allow pupils
22. to gather information through interviewing. What type of questions will I ask, do I need to
be sensitive about some questions, and will they understand me if I ask…
A character is questioned by the group about his or her background, behaviour and
motivation. The method may be used for developing a role in the drama lesson or
rehearsals, or analysing a play post-performance. Even done without preparation, it is an
excellent way of fleshing out a character. Characters may be hot-seated individually, in pairs
or small groups. The technique is additionally useful for developing questioning skills with
the rest of the group.
Who Am I?
One pupil sits at the top of the room. The teacher gives them a character card e.g. Harry
Potter. All other pupils must ask questions to decipher the identity of the character. Only
Yes/No responses are allowed?
Arguments and Formal/Informal Debates
The purpose of debating and developing arguments is designed to persuade an audience to
accept a particular point of view. Debates provide pupils with practice in giving and justifying
opinions. Students will be required to research topics to provide relevant information to support
their point of view. Debates can be used for exploring issues and different points of view such as
topics from literature being studied in class, or local concerns such as pollution, phone masts, and
current affairs.
Language Function Text Type Text Structure and Language Features
Representational Arguments and Text Structure
Communicating Formal/Informal  Argument, persuasion, debate
Information, Debates
expressing Language Structures and Features
propositions  Technical Vocabulary
 Organising information, i.e. introduction,
supporting evidence, drawing conclusions
Regulatory  Persuasive linguistic devices
Influencing the  Persuasive tone of voice and body language
behaviour,  Use of technical data
feelings/attitudes  Use of neutral language to present an argument
of others Knowledge Skills and Understandings
 Expressing and justifying opinions
 Point of view
 Contrasting points of view
 Refuting and argument
 How to address arguments impersonally (by
23. disagreeing with the statement, not the person)
Activities to Develop Arguments and Formal/Informal Debates
Both Sides
When discussing a topic/story with the class formulate a yes/no table e.g.
The school has invested in games for the yard such as Hopscotch, Snakes and Ladders but
only the junior pupils are allowed to use them
Yes that is fair because they are only small No that isn’t fair because I love Snakes and
and they are too young to play football so Ladders and just because I am in 5th class, I
they need games to help them play am not allowed to play it on the yard. I have
as much right as a junior infant.
The whole class contribute ideas for and against a topic. This will help pupils to look at both
sides before they decide on a point of view and they will have reasons to justify their
Take a Stand
An imaginary line is established in the classroom. One end represents “agree” the opposite
end represents “disagree”. The teacher poses the topic e.g. should general elections and
referendums take place on a Saturday. Pupils place themselves on the line according to
their point of view. Those unsure of their opinion go to the middle of the line. Pupils share
reasons to justify their standing. After the discussion, the teacher will ask questions to
probe the process such as: would anybody like to change their position having heard other
pupil’s thoughts? What can you tell about a person’s belief from the tone in their voice? Etc.
Four Corners
Similar to Take a Stand above, the teacher introduces an idea or issue and pupils decide on a
position to represent their opinion. The four corners of the room are labelled as follows:
 Agree
 Strongly Agree
 Disagree
 Strongly Disagree
Pupils move to a corner and together present their reasons to the wider group. Teacher can
probe the thought process by asking questions similar to those in “Take a Stand”.
Allow pupils the opportunity to see/hear formal and informal debates or arguments. From
this they will be aware of structures such as introduction, presenting your opinion, outlining
reasons to back up your opinion, concluding and appropriate language features for
persuasive language such as I believe, it is my opinion, I know, one of the many reasons… etc.
24. Giving Instructions/Procedure
Giving instructions and outlining procedures involve communicating a series of steps in order
to accomplish an end. The language used for this spoken text includes the use of dictate verbs
such as Put, Go, Add, Turn, Take… etc.
Language Function Text Type Text Structure and Language Features
Giving Instructions Text Structure
Representational How to play a game,  Aim/Goal, equipment needed, procedure/steps to
Communicating how to carry out a follow
Information, science experiment,
descriptions, a recipe Language Structures and Features
expressing  Generalised participants
propositions  Linking words to do with time
 Use of imperative verbs
 Detailed factual descriptions
 Detailed information on how, where and when
Regulatory Knowledge Skills and Understanding
Influencing the  Presents ideas in a clear, logical manner
behaviour,  Includes relevant details and omits information
feelings/attitudes that isn’t required
of others  Can identify important information
 Can listen carefully and follow instructions
Metalinguistic Awareness
 Consider listener’s needs
 Uses non-verbal behaviours to engage listeners
and stress important points
Activities to Develop Giving Instructions/Procedures
Barrier games
Barrier games are simple procedures based on giving and receiving instructions. The games
are usually played in pairs and there is some type of “barrier” so that the students cannot
see what their partner is doing. In Infant classes, the children work in pairs. Both children
have the same objects such as a selection of shapes. Child A makes something with their
objects. When child A has finished, child B copies the result. In middle and senior classes
the students work in groups of three. One pupil is the barrier in the middle of the other
two, holding up a book or a screen. Both children at either side of the screen have the same
objects. Pupil A creates something with their objects and then gives instruction to Pupil B so
25. that they end up with the same outcome. Pupil B may ask questions to confirm instructions.
When finished, the barrier is removed and all three pupils discuss the end results.
Types of barrier games:
1. Sequencing or pattern making: In pairs children describe successive items in an
array or sequence such as bead threading, attribute blocks or toys to their partner
and they complete a similar pattern.
2. Matching pairs: Students take turns to describe pictures or objects. One person
describes the picture/object until the other child locates the matching
3. Assembly: Assemble a picture from a selection of shapes. One player describes the
picture and the other assembles the shapes to make the picture.
4. Construction: One player describes the steps in building a construction and the other
player follows the steps in creating the structure.
5. Location: Students place items in relation to each other on a picture board. One
student describes the objects location on the board and the other player listens,
follows directions and places the items in the same location.
6. Grids: One student describes the location of an object on a grid. The other child
listens and places their object in the same section of the grid.
7. Mapping: One Student describes how to get from one point on a map to another.
The other child listens and draws the route on a corresponding map.
8. Spot the difference: Give pairs of students several pictures that vary in small details.
The students describe their pictures to one another and identify the differences.
Complete the steps
Take a recipe or instruction on how to playing a games and cut up into various steps. The
children in pairs have to order the steps in the correct sequence and orally retell how to
complete the procedure.
Is this the way?
This activity needs to take place in an open area. One pupil is blind folded and an object is
placed somewhere in the open space. Each pupil takes a turn in directing the blind folded
pupil to the designated item. Initially pupils count how many instructions were needed in
order to get to the object and this is what they aim to beat when the activity is played again.
This is an opportunity to practice the language of position and direction in particular and
demands precise use of clear instructions.
26. Create a
It is important that the classroom environment is supportive and nurturing where a variety
of communication styles are valued, accepted and accommodated. Teachers can design
differentiated teaching and learning activities that draw on pupil’s interests, knowledge and
skills. Teachers will also support students by helping them to develop strategies to use
when speaking and listening for different contexts. By providing authentic purposes and
audiences for speaking and listening, pupils will become confident and enthusiastic
A language learning environment can be created by focusing on three key elements:
Element Definition
The physical environment By enriching the physical environment of the
classroom, multiple opportunities for engaging
oral interaction and development will exist.
Suggestions for a rich physical environment are
listed below.
Classroom culture By enriching the physical environment of the
classroom we create multiple opportunities for
engaging oral interaction and development.
Suggestions for creating a classroom culture that
facilitates oral instruction are listed below.
Opportunities for communication Communication happens all the time in the
classroom. By taking advantage of certain
communication opportunities, students can be
exposed to multiple oral language contexts and
uses. Suggestions for valuable opportunities for
communication that can be harnessed are listed
27. Ways of developing the physical environment:
 Table/display board to display objects of personal interest/topic related resources
 Dress-up boxes as this allows pupils to engage in spontaneous role play, to re-tell
experiences, and experiment with new ideas and vocabulary
 Collection of puppets to encourage re-telling favourite stories
 Creative area (toys, dress-up clothes, creative equipment)
 Rug area for instruction and whole group activities
 Library for children’s books. Perhaps include a special place for books the children
have created so they can be re-read
 Listening corner with CD player, CDs and headphones, this provides another
opportunity for pupils to listen to a variety of audio recordings
 Telephones and message pads to practice conversational and inquiry skills
 Table for students to display objects of personal interest, work samples of topic
related resources
 Hand-held Dictaphones to enable students to record speaking to share with others.
The recordings could also help in self-assessment on performance and setting
personal goals
 Display of songs, poems and chants that have been taught in class. Encourage
students to recite them for other people, practicing the patterns and rhythms of
Note: Involve pupils in developing classroom displays that showcase their case,
illustrate new concepts or support their learning of new skills. Encourage pupils to
explain or describe these displays to visitors
28. Ways of developing the classroom culture:
 Create a classroom culture of “have a go”
 Be sensitive to cultural differences
 Emphasise enjoyment for all
 Value social talk and the use of language used in the home
 Seize the moment if something unusual in the school happens or if a child brings
something to school
 Encourage all attempts by the children at both speaking and listening
 Teach pupils to share classroom responsibilities e.g. change the calendar, set up
writing table, organize the library
 Maintain an emphasis on enjoyment
 Provide opportunities for the children to reflect and review their speaking and/or
 Explicitly teach students to take turns in groups
 Communicate high expectations
 Motivate pupils to speak with all members of the class
Ways of developing opportunities for discussion:
 Model good listening to the children
 Model using specific language to the children e.g. re-telling stories
 Provide role play opportunities to experiment with language
 Teach/display nursery rhymes, poems, songs, chants, raps so that children can hear
and practice the structure and sounds
29.  Read aloud to the children every day
 Provide puppets, felt boards, toys to re-tell favourite stories
 Read a variety of text types to the children
 Invite guests into the classroom
 Model and allow the children to purposefully practice the language associated with
group work and social interaction
 Teach pupils to resolve conflicts through language e.g. “The next time you should
say” , “I would like to play with that ball when you have finished please”
 Read or recite poetry to the class each day
30. Teach and
Vocabulary and
Interesting Vocabulary Facts!
Vocabulary is the term used to describe the collection
of words in a given language used and understood in  A few thousand words account for 90
Speaking, Listening, Reading and Writing. per cent of the spoken vocabulary
anyone uses or hears on a regular basis!
(Hayes and Ahrens 1988)
It is important for children to develop knowledge of  A highly educated adult has a
word meanings from an early age and to this end, they listening/speaking vocabulary of about
need to be actively engaged in vocabulary 10,000 words but likely knows nearly
development. 100,000 words in reading and writing
(Byrnes and Wasik 2009).
 It has been found that by the age of
Vocabulary for academic learning is linked to the three, children from lower income
teaching of concepts. When a concept is completely families know 600 fewer words than
unfamiliar to the students, they need to develop an children of the same age from families
understanding of the concept first and then with higher incomes (Hart and Risley,
vocabulary can be introduced. If the concept is 1995)
 In order for children to become
familiar to the children new vocabulary is introduced proficient readers, they need to learn
in order to connect new words to an already familiar five to six new words per day, 38 words
or understood concept. per week, 2000 new words a year, and
10,000 by the age of 6!
As children develop, they need to be able to draw on
different sets of vocabulary and as such teachers need
to be mindful of these different sets when selecting words for instruction. Beck, McKeown,
& Kucan (2002) have proposed three tiers of vocabulary that need to the explicitly taught to
Tier 1 Tier 2 Tier3
Description Basic words most Words that appear Uncommon words that
children know before frequently in texts and are typically associated
they enter school for which children with a specific domain
already have some
Example Happy, no, door, chair, Lonely, fortunate, revolution, peninsula,
head, staccato
31. When teaching vocabulary we need to plan for:
 Teaching individual words such as those listed in the 3 tiers above by teaching
synonyms, antonyms, root words, suffixes etc. Direct word-meaning teaching is an
effective way to facilitate children’s vocabulary development
 Teaching word-learning strategies such as words in context, definitions, word maps
 Fostering an awareness and love of words and language such as multiple meanings,
word games, word of the week
 Providing varied experiences for using words through reading, writing and oral
language. Children need to be exposed to new vocabulary to acquire word
knowledge and exposure in different contexts supports their acquisition of nuanced
Teaching Individual Providing Varied Fostering an Teaching word
Words Language Experiences awareness and love of learning strategies
language and words
- Synonyms e.g. - Create situations Multiple meanings e.g. - Context
burglar, robber, thief that require searching orange (fruit/colour) - Definitions
- Antonyms e.g. out vocabulary needs nail (finger/tool) - Deep processing of
black/white, fat/thin, needed to explain new vocabulary to embed
small/tall ideas Homographs e.g. in long term memory
- Classification e.g. - Visit places of sole (shoe and fish) - Semantic Feature
colours, countries interest and interact present (not absent, Analysis - Semantic
- Which Words? (Tier with community gift) Mapping, Semantic
1,2,3, words) members Clusters, Semantic
- Prefixes e.g. un, dis, -Involve students in Interrelatedness e.g. Gradients
post, pre investigations and stallion, rooster, bull
- Suffixes e.g. es, s, experiments (all animals and all
tion, ies, ed - Ask children to male)
- Root words e.g. love review and discuss
– lovely, form - reform topics of interest Homonyms e.g. weak,
- Choose vocabulary week
that may be important
to teach with regard to Word play e.g.
a genre/theme you spoonerisms – know
may be focusing on. your blose & blow
For example the your nose
persuasive writing
genre links naturally
with the oral text –
type of
debate. The
vocabulary needed for
persuasive oral,
reading and writing is
32. listed below;
Arguments and Informal/Formal Debates
Infants 1ST/2ND 3RD – 6TH
 I think/ I don’t think  I think/ I don’t think  I strongly/firmly,
 Because  Because thoroughly believe
 Yes/No  Yes/No  In my opinion – I opine
 I like/don’t like  I like/don’t like  I agree/disagree that
 I agree/ disagree  I agree/ disagree  It is believed/widely
 My favourite  I have mixed feelings believed
 I strongly  I has been
agree/disagree found/proven/discovered
 My favourite  On one hand/other
 Consider the following
 To begin
 Furthermore
 In fact
 Firstly, secondly, next
 For example
 However/although
 To illustrate my point
 To reinforce my point
The problem with --- is
 Similarly, conversely
 Unlike/like
 Conversely
 Finally
 Therefore
 Because of that
 Overall
 In conclusion, in
 Consequently/as a
33. Activities to Support Vocabulary Development:
Work Banks/Word Wall
Word banks work best if they are constructed as living banks or lists where the students can
find, for example, synonyms from their reading books/library books etc.
Chain Game
Chain Game is the name given to the gradual expansion of a sentence. An example of how a
chain writing activity is structured is outlined here.
1. Select a word related to the theme you are developing e.g. spiders.
2. Ask the children to suggest words which describe spiders e.g.
Suggested words Theme
 Hairy
 Scary
 Black Spiders
 Sneaky
 Horrible
 Long-legged
3. Then ask what spiders do and add the words to the list e.g.
Suggested words Theme Verbs
 Hairy  Climb
 Scary  Hide
 Black Spiders  Lurk
 Sneaky  Creep
 Horrible  Bite
 Long-legged  sleep
34. Now combine the words to make sentences such as: Hairy spiders creep. Scary spiders
4. Next, list where spiders do things and add these to the list:
Suggested words Theme Verbs Places
 Hairy  Climb  In the garden
 Scary  Hide  Inside the light
 Black Spiders  Lurk shade
 Sneaky  Creep  In their webs
 Horrible  Bite  In the bathroom
 Long-legged  sleep
And combine as before to make different sentences e.g. Long-legged spiders sleep in the
bathroom. Scary spiders lurk inside the lightshade.
How Many Meanings?
Teacher chooses a word such as “bank” and pupils try and come up with as many different
meanings as possible e.g. money bank, a river bank, a bank of clouds, the aeroplane banked
suddenly, a blood bank, cars banked up at traffic lights, to bank on someone.
Ten/Twenty questions
This is a game where one player chooses of a word taken from a specific list and the other
players ask questions to determine what that word is. It is important that children are
taught the skill of questioning e.g. “Is it a
noun/verb/adjective/adverb/compound noun?” “Has it one/two/three syllable(s)?”
Text Innovation
Text innovation is a highly enjoyable activity for developing vocabulary. The goal of this
activity is to keep the meaning of a text but change the words. The example below shows
how a nursery rhyme, for example, can be innovated.
Nursery Rhyme Text Innovation
Jack and Jill went up the hill John and Mary climbed up the mountain
To fetch a pail of water. To fill a bucket of H20.
Jack fell down and hurt his crown John slipped down and bruised his crown
And Jill came tumbling after. And Mary came rolling after.
PWIM Pictures
Picture Word Inductive Model (PWIM) is another highly engaging way of developing
vocabulary. This is an activity that can be done with the whole class, a small group or
In this activity, the teacher selects a picture and the children label the elements they know.
They can discuss and research in order to label as much as possible. The children then give
the picture a title and begin to categorise the vocabulary. Eventually they write about the
picture using the associated vocabulary.
35. Semantic Gradient
Semantic gradients are a way to broaden and deepen students' understanding of related
words. Students consider a continuum of words by order of degree. Semantic gradients
often begin with antonyms, or opposites, at each end of the continuum. This activity helps
students distinguish between shades of meaning. By enhancing their vocabulary, students
can be more precise and imaginative in their writing. For example; Gangster
Semantic Mapping
Semantic mapping is a strategy for graphically representing concepts. Semantic maps clearly
portray the schematic relations that compose a concept. It assumes that there are multiple
relations between a concept and the knowledge that is associated with that concept.
36. Promote
Auditory memory involves the ability to assimilate information presented orally, to process
that information, store it and recall what has been heard. Essentially, it involves the task of
attending, listening, processing, storing, and recalling. This may be a challenging task for
many students, including those who do not have a learning difficulty. A weakness in
auditory memory can have serious consequences for learning because pupils may only pick
up some of what is being said during a class lesson. Weaknesses in auditory memory can
easily go undetected by a teacher. Children with auditory memory problems appear to be
trying very hard to listen. Because their eyes are focused on the teacher and they appear to
be attentive, it is easy for the teacher to assume that these children have heard and taken in
all that is being taught. However, in reality, they often absorb and make sense out of very
little of what is being mediated by the teacher. As a result, these students recall only a small
amount or none of what is being said. They might remember a word here or there, or part
of a thought, without truly understanding much of the information presented orally to
them. Students with auditory memory deficiencies frequently experience difficulty
comprehending orally presented directions. They often think that they have understood
directions for completing their tasks but when they become engaged in tasks, they often ask
for the help or indeed ask for the teacher to repeat the instructions.
Students with auditory memory deficiencies will often experience difficulty developing a
good understanding of words, or remembering terms and information that has been
presented orally, for example, in history and science classes. These students will also
experience difficulty processing and recalling information that they have read to
themselves. When we read we must listen and process information we say to ourselves,
even when we read silently. If we do not attend and listen to our silent input of words, we
cannot process the information or recall what we have read. Therefore, even silent reading
involves a form of listening.
It is important to understand that each aspect of auditory memory is specific unto itself.
Students must learn to take in all types of information, that which is presented in isolation
as well as in context. While one area of the brain involves the intake of a series of unrelated
letters, another involves numbers, another involves words, and, there are others that
involve a contextual series of words, sentences, and whole passages. It must not be
assumed that because a student can attend, listen and recall a series of numbers, for
example, that he/she will also be able to recall a series of words.
Isolated units of information are often presented orally in school. Being skilled in recalling a
series of items is essential for all students. For example, a teacher may say, "Colour only the
37. frogs, birds and dogs on your paper." If a student has an auditory problem for a series of
words he/she will not be able to recall the series of frogs, birds and dogs. Students need to
be tested to determine if they can recall the number of items in a series proficiently for their
age. While some students may be able to recall a series of three items, they may not be able
to recall a longer series of items. For example, add one more item to the list, frogs, birds,
dogs and goats, and this longer series may be impossible for those same children to recall.
Auditory memory involving contextual information is equally important to the process of
learning. Students with auditory memory problems in this area often cannot recall an entire
sentence that has been presented orally. Or, they may be able to recall a short sentence of
three words in length but not a longer sentence. This may lead to many problems in school
with oral comprehension and the ability to follow oral directions. In addition, while some
students can recall a lengthy sentence well, they may not be able to process and recall a
short passage that is presented orally. These students may be able to answer a specific
question about the information that has been presented to them orally or that they have
read, but are not able to grasp the whole paragraph. Often, these students assume that they
know what they have heard or read orally, when actually, they have processed and recalled
very little of the material. Sometimes as teachers we assume that children have understood
an entire passage when they answer a specific question about the passage, yet, that specific
information might be all that they have gleaned from the passage. Therefore, students
should be encouraged to restate passages, that is, the main idea and supporting details, in
order to demonstrate that they have total comprehension. There is a vast amount of
information that is lost by students with auditory difficulties. While we want our students to
be prepared to answer specific questions from passages they have read, we also need to be
certain that they comprehend passages in their entirety.
How to Develop Auditory Memory Skills
 Repeat and use information
 Recite poems, songs, tales, rhymes, etc.
 Memorise and sequence songs
 Re-tell stories, e.g. fairytales, myths
 Re-tell stories using puppets or by illustrating a map
 Recall verbal messages or phone numbers
 Play memory games Kim’s game, Guess Who, Simon Says, ‘My Grandma went
shopping and bought me a...’ Chinese Whispers
 Recount news events
 Use visual cues and mnemonics
38.  Hide an object and give directions for others to find it
 Provide organizational tools to assist memory, such as graphic or visual organisers
 Explicitly teach pupils to be conscious of remembering important concepts, skills and
metacognitive strategies such as the “think aloud”
I think this is very
funny because it
reminds me of …
39. The following is a small selection of activities adapted from the book “Auditory Processing
Activities” by Jeffries and Jeffries. This book contains a substantial amount of activities that
can be used to develop auditory processing with a whole class and individuals pupils.
Activity Name and Instructions Activity
Activity 4
Teacher assigns new names to the class. 1. Clap your hands
Each pupil receives 2 names to remember 2. Say the name of your best friend
as his/her name (e.g. Mary could be 3. Stand up
named 1, 7). The pupils listen to each 4. Touch your nose
direction and does at it says only if they 5. Say the name of your favourite
hear their numbers following the sweet
direction. 6. Walk to the door and back etc.
Activity 5
Teacher reads some sentences twice. On - Sean and Dana are twins. They look so
the second reading the teacher leaves out much alike that your cannot tell one
one word. The pupils must re-call the from the other
missing word. It may be useful for the
teacher to underline the left out word for
the second reading
Activity 7
Teacher reads a group of words. The - Say, see, sell
pupils listen and then carefully tell the - Game, girl, good
teacher the beginning sound of each - Pear, poor, pond
word. Then the teacher changes it to the - Ring, read, rain
last letter in each word - Two, tin, teeth,
- Bag, bead, bike
Activity 11
Teacher asks some questions. The pupils - What could you find growing in a
must think of more than one answer to forest?
the question - What could you find living in a zoo?
- What could you find in a grocery store?
- What could you find in an animal
40. Activity 12
Teacher reads a series of short stories,
perhaps 4-5. Pupils listen very carefully as
questions will be asked after each story.
Activity 13
Teacher asks questions that only have - How many paws does a dog have?
numbers as their answers. Pupils respond - How many legs are there on a three
by restating each question in the form of legged stool?
a statement that includes the answer e.g. - How many openings does a fish bowl
“how many tusks does an elephant have” have?
“an elephant has two tusks” - How many colours does a zebra have?
41. Assessment
Tools for assessing based on the NCCA Continuum
The assessment tools outlined in the Continuum of Assessment that is contained in the
Assessment in the Primary School Curriculum: Guidelines for Schools (NCCA, 2007) are very
useful. The use of Learning Intentions and Success Criteria is very much advocated and
more information on this can be found on the NCCA website;
By introducing the idea of shared learning intentions and establishing success criteria in
advance, many of the modes of assessment mentioned below will be greatly enhanced. For
example, a student will find it easier to self-assess if they know what successful learning
looks like. The teacher will also find it easier to record teacher observations according to
the success criteria.
The diagram below illustrates the Continuum of Assessment contained in the above
mentioned guidelines.
This continuum outlines the various modes of assessment moving from fully child-led (left-
hand side) to fully teacher-led (right-hand side). The right hand side of the continuum
includes methods associated with Assessment of Learning such as teacher designed tasks /
tests and standardised testing. Even though various tests and tasks can be examined
diagnostically, these types of assessment often give the pupil scores as percentages, sten
scores or grades. Therefore the use of child-led assessment tools such as self-assessment,
conferencing and so on are important towards ensuring that Assessment for Learning is also
taking place. This ensures that pupils are actively involved developing their own learning.
The table below identifies appropriate tools for each mode of assessment along the
All assessment tools mentioned here can be used to assess all the three strands of literacy
and indeed to assess any subject area.
42. Type of Applicable for Oral Language, Reading and Writing
“Children are involved in self-assessment when they look at their own
work in a reflective way, identify aspects of it that are good and that
could be improved, and then set personal learning targets for
themselves” (p. 14)
Tools useful for Self-Assessment include:
 KWL(p. 20) What I Know, What I Want to Know and What I
 2 Stars and a Wish – 2 things that were very good, 1 thing that
could be improved
 Tools that allow students to reflect on the positive aspects of
their work and to focus on an area for improvement. Examples
include WWW (What Went Well) and EBI (Even Better If)
Assessment  Traffic Lights (p. 85)
(pp.14-23)  Ladders (p. 85)
 Talk partners/buddies (p. 85)
 Thumbs up/thumbs down/thumbs across to symbolise I
understand/I don’t understand/I’m not quite there yet
 Numerical scale of understanding 1-5 (5 signifies greatest
degree of understanding 1 signifies least degree of
 Prompts – “The most important thing I learnt was... what I
found difficult was... what helped me best..”.
 Rubric – (p. 84)
 Surveys/Questionnaires
 Checklists
“Those concerned with the child’s learning share their knowledge and
understanding of the child’s work, it’s processes and outcomes during a
planned or intuitive meeting” (p. 24)
(pp. 24-27) Ways of achieving this include;
 Conferencing record sheet teacher/parent
 Using a Rubric (p. 25)
 Child/ Teacher Conference (p 26)
“A portfolio is a collection of the child’s work, reflecting his/her
learning and development over a period of time” (p. 30)
Assessment Practical ways of using portfolio assessment include:
(pp.30-33)  Creating Writing Portfolios. The teacher or child or both select
pieces of writing that are entered into the Portfolio. The pupil