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ESOL Online. Every child literate - a shared responsibility.

Oral language

Teachers scaffold a student’s learning in order to help them achieve. For an English language learner this will include scaffolding to support a student’s curriculum learning goals and their use of the English language.

Teachers should know why they are selecting a particular strategy, determine where in their teaching and learning cycle it is best used and reflect on whether its use has been effective or not. At all times, the ESOL principles and their knowledge of the student should guide the planning, teaching and task sequencing process.

Often strategies used in a co-operative setting provide greater opportunities for the students to notice and use language.

ESOL Oral language Strategies:

Listening Strategies Listening and Speaking Strategies Speaking Strategies
Dramatised listening: Principles 3 and 5 Ask and answer: Principles 1, 3, 4 and 6 4-3-2 (or 3, 2, 1): Principles 1 and 5
Jigsaw listening: Principles 3, 4, 5 and 6 Barrier exercises: Principles 3, 4, 5 and 6 Concept star: Principles 1, 3 and 5
Listening dictation: Principles 3, 4, 5 and 6 Combining tasks: Principles 3 and 6 Developing high level questions: (5 Ws and an H) - Principles 3, 5 and 6
Listening round/Round-robin : Principles 1, 3, 5 and 6 Consensus round/Reaching a consensus: Principles 3, 4, 5 and 6 Disappearing definition: Principles 3, 4 and 5
Listen-up: Principles 3, 4 and 5 Dictogloss: Principles 3, 5 and 6 Finding out tables: Principles 1, 2, 3 and 6
Picture dictation (RTF 2MB): Principles 3 and 4 The doughnut: Principles 3, 5 and 6 Four corners: Principles 1 and 3
Picture matching: Principles 3, 5 and 6 Graphic organisers: Principles 1, 5 and 6 Role play cards: Principles 4, 5 and 6
Viewing guides: Principles 3 and 6 Information transfer: Principles 2, 3 and 6 Say it: Principles 3, 4, 5 and 6 (DVD 1)
Jigsaw listening: Principles 3, 4, 5 and 6 Shared dictation: Principles 4, 5 and 6
Listening round/Round-robin: Principles 3 and 6 Speaking frames: Principles 2, 4 and 5
New ideas/Novel ideas : Principles 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6 Strip stories: Principles 3, 4, 5, and 6
Running dictation: Principles 3, 5, and 6 Think, pair, share: Principles 1, 3, 5 and 7
  Shared dictation: Principles 4, 5 and 6 Vanishing Cloze: Principles 3, 4 and 5
  Split information: Principles 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6  
  Verb stories : Principles 3, 4, 5 and 6  

Teaching approaches and strategies: contains full descriptions of each strategy.

Key oral language resources:

  • Supporting English Language Learning in Primary Schools: this resource gives suggestions for developing students’ academic, cross-curricular English language in both mainstream and transitional classes. SELLIPS is intended for all teachers of students in years 1–8.
  • English Language Intensive Programme Years 0 - 6 and Years 7 -13: this resource provides some text examples, language outcomes and language learning focus points at three phases of English language learning. It also suggests appropriate curriculum area opportunities and strategies for developing the identified language.
  • English Language Learning Progressions explain what ESOL specialists and mainstream teachers need to know about English language learners. They will help teachers to choose content, vocabulary, and tasks that are appropriate to each learner's age, stage, and language-learning needs.
  • Learning Through Talk: Oral Language in Years 1–4: This resource helps teachers develop their understandings of what teachers do that leads to improved oral language for students in years 1–4 (Available from Down the Back of the Chair).
  • Learning Through Talk: Oral Language in Years 4–8: This resource helps teachers develop their understandings of what teachers do that leads to improved oral language for students in years 4–8 (Available from Down the Back of the Chair).
  • Enhancing the English Curriculum: a resource which unpacks the English curriculum objectives for listening, reading, viewing:
  • Group discussion: Video/teacher notes to support the New Zealand English exemplars exploring speaking and listening skills, and how to develop them (Available from Down the Back of the Chair) .



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