Transcript of Podcast 2 - Developing oral language and the demands of schooling
Vanessa – Hi and welcome to the second literacy in the early years podcast. I'm Vanessa Dimitroulas, and I am the P-2 Targeted Programs Advisor and joining me today is Janice Gorrie. Hi Janice.
Janice – Hi Vanessa and hello listeners. I'm the P-2 officer based in Moree and today, in the second podcast, we’re going to be looking at literacy as we come into the school setting. So, the last podcast we looked at, the child and being able to tune into the child and capturing a holistic view of the child in terms of all the things that the child's been involved in, in their world, so their family and their community. And how language has grown and developed.
So today now we're going to look at language as we enter the school setting and see the path that the school setting takes and the demands that the school setting will make on a child’s oral language.
Do you want to expand on that Vanessa?
Vanessa – Yeah, I think for us in schools it's interesting to consider what children bring with them in terms of like we said, that we covered last time, how they've been shaped in their oral language, how they even listen to commands and listen and respond to conversation. But today we're really going to dig deep into the role of the teacher and considering how us as teachers can model, scaffold and support the development of the oral language in our students in schools, especially as you were saying Janice, with the demands of the school language and academic language and how that's different to the oral language that students bring with them to schools.
I'd like to actually discuss here and bring to the forefront of what The Early Years Learning Framework says is our role as educators and that we are meant to be responsive to all the children's strengths, abilities and interests, and value what they build and value and build on the children’s strengths, skills and knowledge to ensure their motivation and engagement in learning. So, I think that's really nice to have at the forefront to consider this is what we need to do as educators and as teachers in schools.
So, building on from there, I'm just questioning myself, what does this mean for us in terms of oral language and you understanding your role as an educator in school, in terms of understanding talk, the role of talk in what you plan for in your classroom, formal and informal interactions that occur throughout your day.
Janice – And I could just add there too Vanessa, we need to be guided by the syllabus in the school, don't we? And what are the demands of the syllabus? So that's a part of our role as a teacher too. And so, when I checked the English syllabus, in the early stages, it's all about the informal talk. But later on, by stage four, it's all about the talk of a scientist or a musician or an artist and the way they talk and for the purpose of their talk. So now you can see we're getting into the more academic language.
So, they're going to be quite significant demands on the young child, isn't it, as they develop through their schooling?
Vanessa – That's it, and it's the role of the educator, obviously, to take the child on the journey and be able to make those developmental steps to get to that point because it does get quite complex, doesn't it, in terms of them being able to use this different vocab as well, to be able to speak like a scientist or to speak like a musician.
I’m thinking about the needs of our students, so we've got EAL/D students, we have verbal and nonverbal, and I think the role of a teacher in understanding the needs of these students to help us to understand, but to help these students to develop and to make that progression throughout the stages of learning as well.
Janice – That's interesting, because many of the scaffolds that teachers will put in to support those children are really, really helpful for all children, that's a really important point to think about, isn't it? All the diversity you have in your class.
Vanessa – Absolutely. So, it's diversity with being able to also consider as a teacher how you can help and support that diversity. So, thinking about, I've got a couple of points here I'm considering and, you know this is great as an educator, we're always considering aren’t we how we can help and support students moving ahead and how our role as a teacher is to actually model with our own verbal interactions. You know, the idea of having that intentional talk and facilitative talk. As we're having activities in the classroom, whether we’re formally or informally interacting and then as we were just saying there too. So, considering our role is the teacher, is the model but also understanding the talk and the demands of talk within our classroom environment.
So, I think at this point would be nice to consider taking an audit of the current classroom practices. What are your thoughts on that Janice and how we could go about that?
Janice – Well I think, isn't that a really useful reflective tool for the teachers or educators to use to just think about, well, who does all the talking in the classroom? Yeah, what opportunities are there for the children to engage in authentic conversations with their peers? And what is the purpose of the talk? Because the talk of a child at the block corner will be different from the talk of a child out in the garden looking at bugs. So, we've got, you know, the purposes of talk and what the talks about. But also, then, the roles in relationships, so who's the child talking to? Is it peer? Is it a familiar adult? Is it the principal? The different purposes that we have for speaking and the different relationships we have with the audience, these are all crucial things. The children have to learn as they develop this academic language for school.
Vanessa – And I think that you’ve just hit the nail on the head. They have to learn the academic language, but it needs to be adapted within the classroom and planned for in ways that it's easy for students to take that language on too, in meaningful ways.
So, I’ve been recently looking at the book, The Oral Language Book by Sheena Cameron and Louise Dempsey, where they explore oral language and the development of, and they actually talk about three types of talk in the classroom, which I think is interesting to think about as educators.
Janice –That we can explore language in different contexts, different ways. So, the three types they've got are exploratory talk, presentational talk, and conversational talk. I think they provide teachers a good framework that will help them navigate the complexities of language; I think.
Vanessa – And I think it would be nice to actually delve into what we were talking about when we're saying exploratory and presentational and conversational talk.
So, Sheena Cameron and Louise Dempsey talk about exploratory talk, which is understanding and developing ideas. That idea of activating thinking, the deeper thinking and use of open as well as closed questions, which I know we went into our last podcast as well and how we can use language to explore, I guess is another way of saying exploratory talk.
Then we have the presentational, where this is not just about presenting news to the classroom or presenting a talk, but it's the idea of sharing information with others in terms of a presentational style of the way that we use language.
And then there's also the conversational, where we're referring to there the building of relationships and the conversations and the language that are used between peer to peer and in our circumstance with peer to teacher as well.
Janice – Because that last one’s a really interesting one because for young children who have come into Kindergarten, many of them haven't been in such a large group before, so now they're in a large group with one teacher and talking about getting the attention of the, that adult and knowing how to get the attention, when to get the attention, what the language is around your working in groups, the language of collaboration, that's a really important part of navigating the school, the school, the way school is, isn't it? And we don't often think about that. But that's a really important part of that, that conversational talk. That's really interesting that that's been added to those three areas.
Vanessa – That is very important. I reflect on my own teaching and you know, probably when I was a beginning teacher, and I don't know if I necessarily understood that aspect that students would be coming to school, especially Kindergarten, with their own shaped ways of interacting at home that they needed to learn how to then interact with teachers, with a different form of language to what they were used to having in their own home environment. So, I like that aspect there too, that they've added that in.
Janice – Will we move on Vanessa now thinking about that language rich classroom.
Vanessa – Yeah, I think it's quite interesting with those three aspects. So, the exploratory, the presentational and the conversational, that they all need to come into place in a language rich environment and we need to think of how we can extend and support, model, scaffold within those three spaces as well. So, I was sort of, was sort of thinking at that point there about delving into the aspect of the three areas that they talk about in terms of the understanding, the information, the digging deeper, and the new understanding that we're getting within the different spaces within our classroom as well. So, along the way of using three different types of talk, thinking about within our planning and learning experiences that were going, and covering as a teacher, the understanding of the information that we're making the connections with the information and digging deeper and that we've got the new understanding within the teaching of a really language-rich environment where we're reading over 6 books a day with our students. That we’re having those lovely interactions with students. That we’re considering using closed and open questions, but having meaningful conversations, thinking about the quality of talk as much as the quantity of talk as well.
Janice – Yes, that's right and added to that, it's across all key learning areas, isn't it? So, it’s mindboggling, isn’t it? It's very, very complex.
Vanessa – It is, it is. There’s so much to be covered, isn't there? Like so, exploring even a little bit further, how we can do this as a teacher in the classroom and you know, we sort of touched on that. It needs to be planned for and you know, with a good understanding of the strengths and the skills that our students bring. We also, I think, need to contemplate how we can explicitly do this along the side of having that dialogical teaching, you know, that idea of having that ongoing talk where we have the turn-taking, but the role of the teacher within that turn-taking being able to support and facilitate ideas and develop and build on ideas. What are your thoughts on that Janice?
Janice – I think, Pair Share is a good strategy to move away from the monologue in the teacher-child, teacher-child, so that we have children in pairs, or in triads, or in fours, and they have the opportunity to talk and discuss and engage with other ideas.
And so that then allows for more opportunities to talk, and also then opportunity to dig deeper. And we know that talk is really important for developing thinking, isn't it? So that we need children to be talking about topics because that helps wire the brain. It's about a way of learning, learning more.
Vanessa – I'm also thinking about how I use to teach talking in the classroom and especially thinking, having the syllabus and you know, I'm ticking boxes, I'm going through, talking and listening and I always thought that giving news was the way to cover the talking and listening aspects within the curriculum. But reflecting on what even I've read with Cameron and Dempsey, it really is almost like. I thought it was presentational, but it's really a child just in a monologue, and it's not as meaningful as what you'd hope you'd be getting from having these lovely conversations in the classroom, where we have interactions and not just staged interactions like we had with news. It's you know, that stop at the end, now who's got three questions. It's a matter of having more informal interactions to help develop that oral language experience. And I guess to help students to improve in their oral language interactions with students, too. So always considering you know, about getting the quality and quantity in there of oral language interactions to develop it, but along the lines of also considering the purpose and the audience for when we're talking.
Janice – Yeah, just to add into that Vanessa, I mean maybe news might be a short unit of work when you are talking about audience and purpose and bringing children to understand that the talk, who is their audience and what is the purpose of the talk and discussing that in relation to news. But it may only be short because you’ll move on to something else around audience and purpose and then, and then it's beyond that, it is the topic that the topic comes in, so you know you might be going into maths or science or and, and then your relationships with your audience that you have. So sometimes it’s informal, therefore your language choice is different. But if it's a very formal setting, then your language choice is different again. Yeah, so that's a really valid point you know, just thinking about maybe news in a different way, that's all.
Venessa – Yes.
Janice – Yeah, but also bringing it into that audit of who does all the talking and other children learning about talking in terms of audience and purpose and listening to because there's a lot of listening going on.
Vanessa – So, reflecting on today's chat, I'm wondering how you will prompt and guide your students when talking and being active in the spaces in your classroom? Or how you will organise your classroom in ways to support your students in order to deepen their thinking, as well as to collaborate with others?
So, thinking about the aspects of incorporating dialogic talk as well as explicit teaching.
Vanessa – I was thinking about reflecting on the quote from Erin Reed and Julie Baxar, where they say oral language lays the foundation for the reading and writing skills children develop as they enter, and they progress through school. That they will use this oral language in all aspects in their education in a way to connect with others. And have that solid foundation in oral language that will help them to become successful readers and strong communicators and build their confidence and overall sense of well-being. Because we know that that is our aim of teaching, is to help students to develop their sense of identity as well as become functioning citizens in society which is part of our strategic plan.
Janice – I think that encapsulates it all, doesn't it? The importance of oral language.
So, we hope you've got something to take away. Think about those reflective questions. And think about what you might do differently in your class.
Vanessa – Great, thank you, Janice.
End of transcript.