What is Oracy
Oracy is to speaking what numeracy is to mathematics or literacy to reading and writing. In short, it’s nothing more than being able to express yourself well. It’s about having the vocabulary to say what you want to say and the ability to structure your thoughts so that they make sense to others.
The benefits of oracy skills go far beyond academic achievement and employability, they boost a whole range of social, emotional and interpersonal skills, including self-confidence, self-awareness, resilience and empathy. Having the skills and confidence to speak up and believe in yourself has also been shown to enhance our sense of happiness and well-being, preventing the isolation that comes from feeling side-lined.
Source: English Speaking Website
5 Reasons to Teach Oracy Skills in Your ClassroomClick/Tap To Learn More
Posted By Amanda Moorghen, 07 March 2018 - Updated: 08 April 2019
Source: NACE Website
Just like literacy and numeracy, at one level oracy is a basic skill that no one can go without – whether on the stage, in the boardroom or in everyday conversation, all of us need to express ourselves and listen to others. But, as with literacy and numeracy, oracy is also so much more than this basic skill: it’s the key to incredible intellectual and emotional experiences. No one should be locked out of opportunities in life for fear of speaking in public, or inability to rise to the challenge of an interview or presentation.
1. Oracy Supports Learning
Many great lessons include talk. In particular, challenging open-ended tasks often have a discussion element – exploring new ideas, questioning, analysing and synthesising. Explicit oracy instruction ensures all pupils have the tools they need to access talk-based learning, stopping these lessons from being dominated by a few more confident characters. Talk can also precede writing – stronger oracy skills can help develop the creativity and critical thinking pupils need for their written work.
2. Oracy is Vital for Social Mobility
Some children receive a lot more oracy practice and instruction than others. This impacts their learning at school, but also their ability to fulfil their potential later in life. For some, interviews, presentations or seminars present barriers to success. Explicit oracy instruction for all pupils narrows that gap, giving everyone the change to flourish. In later life, whether in higher education (lectures, seminars) or the workplace (interviews, meetings, presentations), oracy skills help people to make the best of the opportunities they have.
3. Oracy is Good for Social and Emotional Learning
Teaching oracy skills helps children who may be struggling to work or play well with others. For example, teaching rules and conventions around turn-taking in small-group discussions helps involve pupils who find free-flowing, “chaotic” discussions off-putting. Developing oracy skills can also boost children’s confidence and self-esteem. Some teachers worry that shy children will be left out of oracy activities, but at the ESU we find it is precisely explicit oracy instruction that helps them to overcome their nerves: clear expectations and guidelines help everyone to find their voice.
4. Oracy Opens Doors to Opportunity
Extracurricular activities such as debating, youth parliament and volunteering bring a wide variety of benefits. Oracy education helps students to access these opportunities: for some, a debate in class might help them to find a passion for politics, whilst for others, formal oracy instruction gives them the confidence they need to volunteer in the community.
5. Oracy is Empowering
Oracy instruction helps young people to develop the skills they need to speak out about what matters to them. At the ESU, we’ve worked with young people who are a voice for change, whether on the world stage, in their school or in their local community. The demands of democratic life require us all to speak up – teaching oracy means everyone is equipped to do so, not just those who began life with the loudest voice.
What Is Oracy
Oracy: Group Discussion
Oracy - Talking Points
Strategies for Effective Talk
The Oracy Skills Framework
The Oracy Skills Framework (OSF) specifies the various skills young people need to develop to deal with a range of different talk situations. The framework has been developed by drawing on available existing resources and research, and in consultation with a range of experts. The OSF is designed to help school leaders, teachers and pupils understand the physical, linguistic, cognitive and social/emotional skills that enable successful discussion, inspiring speech and effective communication. The OSF can be used to help teachers and pupils set specific oracy targets for pupils, and to provide them with formative feedback on their use of speaking and listening. The OSF not designed to be used as an assessment framework, and we recommend that schools do not use it for this purpose.
Source: Oracy Cambridge University
What Can We Do to Improve Oracy?Click/Tap To Learn More
There are a number of steps schools can take to improve Oracy:
Make time for Oracy
Time is needed above all else. Although timetables are already filled to the brim, think about where there might be chances to teach Oracy. You may be able to find time to teach Oracy explicitly as a standalone lesson, however even if you plan in opportunities for oracy into other curriculum areas, this will make a difference. Above all else, do not be afraid to make oracy a focus or objective for a lesson – it is part of the curriculum and needs to be taught.
Prioritise Oracy in Your Environment
Think about whether Oracy is celebrated in your environment. Are children’s verbal comments collected and displayed? How often do you read aloud to your class and tell stories? How many chances do children get to perform poetry and plays? Do you display unusual objects and encourage children to talk about them? Could you have a ‘box of wonder’ in your class to provoke discussion? Could you develop a ‘talking corner’ or invite guests in to talk with, rather than just to, your class? One of our wonderful Reading Award schools, St Matthew’s Catholic Primary School in Bradford, have worked hard over the last few years to develop Oracy. A key facet of their approach is the introduction of ‘talking corners’ into their EYFS classrooms. The idea is simple – each week a guest comes into the classroom and starts doing something they enjoy in the talking corner. Previous guests have brought sewing to complete, or their dancing attire. The objective is for children to be intrigued and spend time talking with the guest, building their oracy skills and confidence.
Teach Oracy Explicitly
Plan in an oracy focus each week for your class which can be interwoven into your teaching of other subjects. Make time to explicitly teach and model using that focus, giving children chance to try it out for themselves. An excellent place to start with this is by teaching a speaking frame or language structure each week. The wonderful Progression in Language Structures by the Tower Hamlets EMA team provides a clear progression of language structures divided by focus and year group.
Give Opportunities to Practise Oracy
Children need as many opportunities to use their oracy skills as possible. Think about the amount of time you give children for discussion and the structures you use – can you change your approach to encourage Oracy? When you talk with children, do you always question or do you comment and prompt? Do you build upon what children say? For example, if a child says ‘The sponge soaked up the water’ could you respond ‘Yes, the sponge absorbed it.’ Think about how often children are given opportunities to report orally, both planned (e.g. presenting research) and unplanned (e.g. How did your group find that?). Could you make time for children to report the day’s news, or show and tell? How can you prioritise conversations with and between pupils and visitors? Could you use roleplay? Or have a ‘conversation station’ with prompts to promote conversations between children?
Have High Expectations for Oracy From All
Being a good role model for Oracy is crucial. Just as using your thinking voice is an important tool for developing children’s metacognitive skills in Writing, so it is for Oracy. Verbalising making oracy choices and thinking about the most effective way to phrase speech is key to supporting development. Feedback about Oracy is also helpful. If a child says something incorrectly, rather than focusing on their mistake, repeat what they said back to them using the correct phrasing. For example, if a child asks ‘Can I toilet?’ say ‘_Please can I go to the toile_t?’ back. Where possible, praise and give feedback on speech specifically, even when oracy is not necessarily your objective or main focus. For example, ‘I think the way you explained that had a really clear sequence.’
Have Fun With Oracy
Enjoy debates, performances, role play and games together, where Oracy takes centre stage. A whole range of ideas can be found on our webinar recording discussed below.
Source: One Education Website
How to Integrate Oracy Strategies Into Lessons
This video presentation offers a practical step-by-step strategy to help teachers implement oracy skill-building into their English classes as part of regular speaking practice.
Hopes For Our Students As Talkers and Listeners
This podcast answers one juicy question: What are some of your greatest hopes for your students as talkers and listeners? And what kind of practical routines will you set up at the beginning of the year to help build that community?
It touches on: How do teachers co-construct communities through talk; How do social conversation and academic conversation build on each other; and How do we make spaces for talk so we all feel a sense of belong.
Oracy ArticlesClick/Tap To View
Speaking Up: The Importance of Oracy in Teaching and Learning | Imapact: Journal of the Chartered Collage of Teaching | 2019 | How can teachers support oracy in their classrooms?; What is ‘oracy’?; What are the benefits of developing teachers’ and students’ oracy?; How do teachers use oracy?; What are the barriers to better oracy?; How can teachers and schools overcome these barriers?
6 Tips For Improving Oracy | @TeacherToolkit | Includes various strategies for teaching oracy.