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Modelled Language in the Classroom


As teachers, we model language all the time. Every word we say! It would be interesting to look at a transcript of the language a teacher uses at school and analyse the language used. Also to count the words, if people were paid according to words spoken teachers would be very high up the list of highest earners.

On top of that, the words a teacher uses are unscripted, unrehearsed and composed and delivered in the here and now. The skill of this is challenging on any occasion and teachers do it continually, day in day out. Turning knowledge, ideas and understanding into words which their audience will understand, connect with and engage with. Imparting knowledge is hard!

For anyone observing a teacher one skill that will be immediately apparent is their explanation skills. The words they use, the way the say them, the tone, the pace, the phrasing, the vocabulary, the emphasis, the repetition. All of this is deliberately done.

The pupils learn so much from the words they hear in the classroom. They hear new words and familiar words, language used for different purposes, short sentences, long sentences, different ways of starting sentences, different ways of starting sentences. Hearing more words leads to a bigger vocabulary. Vocabulary is central to teaching because without sufficient vocabulary students cannot understand others or express their own ideas.

Tips for modelled language in the classroom:

In a writing lesson, speak in the style of the genre of writing. Let the class watch you as a teacher think as you compose and speak sentences.

Deliberately introduce new words. Use and apply them.

Rephrase things. Pause. Reflect. Change the way you say things.

Read to the students- absolutely – but also develop the practice of retelling stories and explanations based on what has been read.

Do not expect, or plan for the students to repeat back or mimic what you say. Modelling language is not dictation or rote learning. Modelling language is simply allowing students to hear high quality language used and applied and constructed and composed before their eyes.

Make language central to teaching. Continue to develop the skill and art of explanation.

Its not just about what you say as a teacher of course, the language the students use and practise is vital. Modelled language and oral rehearsal go hand in hand.

How many learning-focused words does a student say on average in a lesson. How many opportunities do they have to speak? A language and talk rich classroom unlocks so much.

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