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ESOL Online. Every child literate - a shared responsibility.
Ministry of Education.

Introduction to oral language

Welcome to the Oral Language module. In this module you will:

  • view some oral language exemplars
  • analyse your students’ talk in relation to The Progressions: ELLP
  • plan further opportunities to develop students’ oral language

To help you, you will need:

Getting Started

To start you thinking about speaking and listening, please read the relevant section in The Progressions: ELLP. This is a useful summary, easy to read, and contains important ideas about your English language learners. (It’s only 2 pages.)
Years 1-4 pp.7-9
Years 5-8 pp.7-9
Years 9-13 pp.7-9

You might like to make notes in your journal or highlight the key ideas in your booklet.

Summary of key messages about listening and speaking

  • Help your learners to understand and use appropriate language for different audiences and purposes (for example at lunchtime with friends compared with discussing a class topic in the classroom).
  • Focus on teaching academic oral language (Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency: CALP), as students will pick up social English (Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills: BICS) more easily.
  • Notice how oral language challenges learners in different ways from written language (for example there is generally no opportunity to listen again to a speaker, but with a written text learners can re-read it).
  • Think about the factors that influence each learner’s oral language proficiency. These include:
    • the content of and teaching approaches used in previous English language instruction (if any.)
    • the age at which your learner began learning English.
    • their level of confidence in speaking English, especially risk-taking.
  • Remember that your learners will generally understand more than they can say - their receptive language (making meaning/listening) will be more advanced than their productive language (creating meaning/speaking).
  • Encourage your learners to continue to speak in their home language(s) as this will help them to think deeply and learn English more effectively.
  • Secondary teachers might note that there is an approximate correlation between the stages of The Progressions: ELLP and the ESOL unit standards.

Oral Language Key Messages (PDF 83KB)

Published on: 23 Jun 2010