Speaking and Listening at Key Stage 2 and Beyond
Section 4.1 -
Students need the confidence to teach speaking and listening
The curriculum taught in Key Stages 2 and 3 is intense. The idea that speaking and listening has to be given special, allotted time in an already crowded week may be unthinkable for some; there may be a real problem of overload. Students faced with impossible choices of how to spend their own and the children's time may not have the confidence to make the direct teaching of spoken language skills a real priority.
In addition, some teacher training in the past has unfortunately encouraged the idea that good teachers should not provide instruction, but rather limit their role to that of hands-off 'facilitators' who should not interfere with the delicate process of the child's learning, but stand back and create learning opportunities. This may seem the right approach to take when faced with situations such as helping children to work well together in groups. But when it comes to talk amongst children, student teachers need to know that sensitive intervention by a teacher is crucial.
Teacher-led dialogue and group-based activities with minimal teacher intervention are both very important for children's learning. Students will be faced with many competing priorities during their course, and need to be completely sure that they are right to be 'on a mission' to teach speaking and listening. It is important to help them see that by giving direct attention to the development of children's spoken language skills, they will help the process of teaching and learning become more effective throughout the curriculum. Once a collaborative, articulate atmosphere is established, learning objectives for speaking and listening can (and should) inform work in curriculum area. The striving for effective dialogue and learning through talk should be a continuous feature of classroom life.