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

Speaking frames

Speaking Strategy: Speaking frames

ESOL Principles:

Most strategies can be used to support all seven of the ESOL principles dependent upon how the teacher decides to use the strategy within their teaching and learning planning cycle. This strategy is usually used to support:

Principle 2: Identify the learning outcomes including the language demands of the teaching and learning. What language do the students need to complete the task? Do the students know what the content and language learning outcomes are?

Principle 4: Begin with context embedded tasks which make the abstract concrete. How can I put these concepts into a concrete context?

Principle 5: Provide multiple opportunities for authentic language use with a focus on students using academic language. Is the language focus on key language? Do I make sure the students have many opportunities to notice and use new language?


Speaking frames are a type of sentence frame that provides sentence starters and models for English language learners who may not have sufficient knowledge of standard sentence structure to be able to create sentences independently. They are a support, which should gradually be withdrawn eg. "The ________ lives in a _______."

video icon Primary level: Making Language and Learning Work DVD 3Social Studies, Year 5-6

video icon Secondary level: Making Language and Learning Work DVD 2Social Studies, Year 10

Teaching and learning sequence examples:

Primary level:

Secondary level:

Some possible Teacher Inquiry questions:

  • Which language features do my students need to master in order to be able to achieve the learning outcomes?
  • Do I need to differentiate speaking frames for students at different stages of learning English? How will I scaffold them to success e.g.by using a speaking frame?
  • How can I use speaking frames to find out more about my students’ language and schooling backgrounds?
  • How could I use speaking frames more incidentally in my classroom to support everyday learning conversations with my students?
  • Has the use of the speaking frame resulted in more students contributing to class discussions, or led to an improvement in sentence structure or more academic language being used?


  • Learning Through Talk: Oral language in years 1-3 and Learning Through Talk: Oral language in Years 4-8, Ministry of Education, (2009). Wellington. Learning Media.
  • Developing classroom speaking activities: From theory to practice (63 kB): Article by Jack Richards written for classroom teachers.
  •   Expanding Oral Language in the Classroom van Hees, J. (2007): This book offers a wide range of teaching and learning strategies for expanding learners’ oral language in the classroom.
  • Oral Language : Discusses the literacy challenges for English language learners and identifies effective teaching strategies for scaffolding oral language (The Education Alliance, Brown University).

Useful website:

Published on: 18 Jun 2012