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Understanding the importance of oracy in the classroom

Oracy in the classroom

Do you ever wish your students would speak up more in class? You’re not alone. A recent study found that the average UK student only contributes four words to each lesson.

There is good news, though. Teaching approaches that embrace oracy can help improve student literacy, both verbally and non-verbally. 

Want to know more about oracy and boosting writing outcomes for students in your classroom? You’ve come to the right place. Keep reading this guide for absolutely everything you need to know. 



What Is Oracy?


Oracy is the ability to communicate ideas, ask questions for understanding, and engage with others. Promoting oracy in the classroom builds speaking and listening skills. It can also help children improve their written language skills.

With an oracy skillset, children can gain the vocabulary to say what they want to say. They’ll learn how to structure thoughts in a way that makes sense to others. 

Students who learn oracy are more confident than their peers. They’re also empathetic, having learned the ability to listen to others and understand alternative perspectives. 

Oracy may be the single most important skill children can learn. And at Chatta, we’re making teaching oracy easier than ever before. 


Oracy Skillsets


As with any lesson in the classroom, there are key performance indicators to measure students’ progress. In oracy, we call these oracy skillsets.

Oracy skillsets serve the ultimate goal of making students more persuasive speakers and writers. Here are the top four skillsets that help measure progress toward and show how to improve oracy outcomes. 


Reasoning and Evidence


Persuasion is important in verbal and written communication. And becoming a persuasive speaker and writer hinges on developing argumentation skills. 

The ability to use reasoning and evidence shows that children can speak and write persuasively. Oracy helps develop these abilities by honing cognitive skills and expanding knowledge stored in memory. 


Listening and Response


To persuade others verbally or in writing, students must learn to engage with their peers’ views. Engaging well requires an understanding of how to listen attentively and respond with appropriate questions or challenges. 

Teaching oracy improves emotional and social abilities as well as fostering engaging discussions and active listening. And all of these factors contribute to good listening and response skills. 


Expression and Delivery


More advanced speakers and writers must learn how to speak to their audience. Persuasive arguers can choose the right vocabulary and rhetoric to engage all kinds of audiences effectively.

Oracy skills build this ability by first eliminating fears around public speaking. Teachers model the body language and non-verbal cues useful in presenting public arguments. All while students gain the confidence needed to express themselves and compellingly deliver ideas. 


Organisation and Prioritisation


To be an effective orator, a speaker must know how to prioritise thoughts and ideas. One way to do this is to use a structure and talking points in verbal presentations. Effective speakers can also determine which points are more important and which ideas deserve less time. 

When we teach children oracy, we should encourage them to structure their thinking patterns. Students who can effectively organise their thoughts will be better able to orate those ideas and, ultimately, write them down in an essay. 


Who Can Benefit From Oracy?


Absolutely anyone can benefit from oracy. Whether young or old, rich or poor, oracy is an essential skill in the classroom and the workplace. Chatta’s evidence-based approach brings oracy to the classroom in a way that benefits all students. We’ve listed just a few specific areas of benefit below.


Traditional Students With Dyslexia


Learning to read well is a critical step toward learning oracy and writing skills. Dyslexic children are at risk for low literacy and communication abilities because many classrooms aren’t set up to cater to their needs.

Classrooms using oracy approaches can support these students. Relying on spoken and visual cues means dyslexic students can contribute to the lesson on equal ground with their peers. 


English as an Additional Language Students


Instructing English as an Additional Language (EAL) students is a unique challenge. These students are trying to learn English, all while struggling with a language barrier. 

Oracy skills help EAL children feel confident to make their voices heard. Students can practice speaking aloud in the classroom and at home, building self-confidence in their new language. 


Low-Income Students


When it comes to communication, children from low-income households start school at least a year and a half behind their wealthier peers. These children are also two times more likely to experience long-term language difficulties. 

Practising oracy in classrooms helps to solve this problem. Students will understand the language standards expected in the classroom. Using this approach develops communication skills, which can help these students be more socially mobile.


Special Educational Needs Students


Students with special educational needs tend to struggle more with communication than their peers. Not only that, but many children diagnosed with one special educational need may also experience others, like ADHD or dyslexia. 

Oracy is one of the best special needs resources teachers can have for their classrooms. Teaching oracy helps combat classroom challenges unique to special needs students, including helping these students engage better.


The Benefits of Oracy in the Classroom


It’s a well-known fact that oracy can improve academic outcomes in students. This is especially true when it comes to language abilities, both verbal and written. There’s also evidence that oracy can improve reading skills.

But these aren’t the only benefits of utilising oracy in the classroom. Keep reading for the top skills your students will learn by using an oracy approach. 


Oracy Engages Students


Research shows that, like oracy, engaging with students in the classroom boosts learning outcomes. Specifically, engaged students are more attentive, focused, and motivated. 

Oracy can help students engage by encouraging them to voice ideas and ask questions. That way, students can take control of their learning.


Oracy Helps Students Think Critically


Critical thinking is just as important in daily life as it is in the classroom. Students who think critically can make better decisions, hold well-informed opinions, and feel curious about learning. Critical thinking is also a top skill employers look for in new hires. 

Oracy boosts critical thinking skills in students. It encourages children to organise their thoughts and reflect on their understanding. Plus, oracy emphasises reasoning and evidence, which leads to better decision-making abilities. 


Oracy Supports Students’ Memory


Memory is an excellent tool for learning. Having a good memory improves focus and long-term brain health. Memorisation is also crucial for critical thinking since we process thought using the facts and ideas stored in our memories.

Studies show that practising oracy is good for students’ memory. Speaking learning out loud may encourage memory consolidation, moving the information from working memory to long-term storage. 


Oracy Helps Students Build Confidence


Self-confidence is essential for a healthy mind and body. Confidence allows people to harness their full potential and achieve their dreams. This quality also helps children understand who they are, what they want, and what they believe.

Oracy gives kids the tools they need to speak up and be heard. Through oracy techniques, teachers can also show students how to use confident body language during public speaking. With oracy, children can harness the power not to be ignored. 


Oracy Builds Students’ Communication Skills


UK employers consistently rate communication skills as a high priority in new hires. They want employees who can put across their ideas and know when to listen. Yet, if that’s so, why don’t we teach communications skills in the classroom? 

Teaching students oracy puts communication first. Oracy helps students do better in the classroom. But this skill has implications beyond school, helping children learn how to communicate clearly and even achieve social mobility.


Oracy Tips to Use In Your Classroom


Is oracy the magical ingredient your classroom has been missing? Then it’s about time you learned how to improve oracy in your students. Here are our top tips for doing just that. 


Employ Images


Images relate to inner speech, and the inner voice relates to verbal talk. In this way, images can help students communicate better both verbally and non-verbally in writing. 

Presenting children with an image of the day before each lesson serves two purposes. It engages students’ attention and gets them thinking. 

The most important aspect of this exercise is that it doesn’t involve reading or writing. Students can discuss their ideas with peers without feeling like their literacy levels are holding them back. This will help students build confidence.


Set Student Expectations


At the beginning of each lesson, teachers should model the style of language expected from their students. Set expectations for the grammar and pronunciation you expect students to use.

If there are any vocabulary terms to learn, now is the time to provide those new terms to the class.

Another helpful tip for setting student expectations is to teach synonyms of the vocabulary for the day. This encourages students to vary their word use and help them learn the subtle differences between word meanings. 

Oracy isn’t just about the words we use. It’s also about delivering those words with the right body language. Teachers can model the desired behaviours, including eye contact, loud and clear speech, and appropriate facial expressions.


Use Philosophy for Children


Philosophy for Children is an approach to learning that encourages critical thinking and group collaboration. How can teachers promote philosophy in the classroom? The easiest way is to allow children to ask questions.

Use enquiry in tandem with images. You could point to the image of the day and ask students to come up with their own questions about it.

In oracy, more talk is always better because it gives students a chance to rehearse the expectations teachers model for them. Philosophy for Children builds not only oracy but also active listening, social skills, and self-confidence. 


Promote Student Presentations


Images get students’ inner voices talking. But how can you encourage children to move from inner speech to oracy? Student presentations can help students rehearse out loud the expectations teachers set for them.

At this point in the lesson, teachers can allow students to break into groups. There, the children can discuss their thoughts and ideas with their peers. Encourage students to justify their observations with evidence of what they see in the image. 

This point in the lesson is also an excellent teachable moment for empathy. Through group conversation, students can develop the skills to listen to others’ perspectives.

Once the students have developed their ideas with peers, they should present their observations to the class. This is the time to practice the linguistic and body language expectations set at the start of the lesson.

Promoting student presentations helps children build verbal and non-verbal communication skills. And this will prepare them to be better writers, too. 


Involve Parents and Caregivers


The end goal of promoting oracy in the classroom is developing students into more confident speakers and better writers. To further this goal, we encourage parents and caregivers to get involved in oracy and writing at home, too.

Children may learn expected speech behaviours at school. But the home is where they can practice these skills without fear of embarrassment or failure. 

Research shows that when parents get involved with their children’s schooling, learning outcomes improve.

For example, one study found a 6–12 percentage point increase in literacy scores among students whose parents participated in the child’s learning. 


Get Chatta for Your Classroom


When students have good oracy, there’s evidence that their overall literacy can improve. With Chatta’s approach, you can embed oracy and boost student writing outcomes, developing fearless writers and confident communicators. Chatta’s evidence-based teaching methodology unlocks oracy in an easy to implement six-step process. 

Would you like to learn more about how Chatta could transform your classroom? Book a meeting with Chatta today. 

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