Oral language and communication

Improving and building on student’s word knowledge is a pervading element of any teaching and learning program, and opportunities to develop vocabulary have been identified (Beck, McKeown & Kucan, 2008).

Students can develop and demonstrate speaking, listening and interacting competencies through the suggested learning activities below. Most activities do not require materials. They provide opportunities for assessment with selected observable behaviours being identified.

These learning activities can function independently or as an element of a holistic program, supporting the understanding of the English textual concepts:

  • narrative
  • character
  • connotation, imagery and symbol

Differentiation and adjustment

When making decisions about teaching and learning activities, teachers should consider a student’s preceding knowledge, experiences and skills as well as the literacy demands of the activity. Teachers may be required to provide differentiation and adjustments to support students to access and participate in the teaching and learning activities on the same basis as their peers, and these will need to be considered prior to and throughout the lesson. See the additional information below for further advice to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, students with disability and additional learning and support needs, high potential and gifted students and EAL/D students.

Aboriginal education and communities

In their study of English, students learn about the interconnected elements of Country and Place, People, Culture and Identity and engage in a range of experiences showing links between cultural expression, language and spirituality of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

When planning and programming content relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures, teachers are encouraged to involve local Aboriginal communities and/or appropriate knowledge holders in determining suitable resources, or to use Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander authored or endorsed publications.

When assessing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in speaking and listening activities, teachers should acknowledge and be sensitive to the different ways of expressing emotions which may impact student involvement and contribution. For example, their use of non-verbal responses, common use of silence, lack of eye-contact and feelings of shame.

Further information and support can be found on the Aboriginal education and communities’ page and through your area’s School Services Aboriginal Education team.

Students with disability and additional learning and support needs

Under the Disability Standards for Education (2005) all principals and teachers have legal obligations to ensure that every student is able to participate in the curriculum on the same basis as their peers. This can be achieved by making reasonable adjustments according to a student's personalised learning and support needs. Adjustments may be made to the curriculum, the instruction and/or the environment.

Adjustments to the curriculum may include:

  • modifications to the amount of the lesson or unit content taught
  • modifications to the time allocated to complete work
  • teaching the core or critical content first
  • teaching the key terminology and vocabulary needed for the subject area

Adjustments to the instruction or how the lesson is delivered may include:

  • providing alternative representations of teaching and learning materials (e.g. using multimedia, Braille, illustrated texts, simplified texts or captioned video)
  • motivating students through engagement with their personal interests
  • additional, explicit and systematic instructions
  • increased levels of prompting
  • additional modelling
  • guided practice

Adjustments to the environment apply to playground, outdoor learning areas, school library, sporting fields and excursions, and may include:

  • supporting physical access needs
  • peer assistance (for example, using buddy systems, peer-assisted learning and peer tutoring)
  • alternative equipment and furnishings
  • support personnel
  • scheduling (for example, a sequence of events)
  • technology and augmentative and alternative communication systems
  • modifications to buildings and classrooms

The school learning and support team assists teachers to meet the educational needs of their students and to identify appropriate adjustments that may be needed. Consultations between the student, parents or carers and school take place before any adjustments are made. Adjustments must be regularly reviewed through a consultation process and should be changed or withdrawn if necessary.

Further information and advice can be found on the Disability, Learning and Support page.

High potential and gifted students

The High Potential and Gifted Policy promotes engagement and challenge for every student in every school across intellectual, creative, social-emotional and physical domains of potential, while explicitly identifying and addressing the learning needs of high potential and gifted students.

High potential students from diverse backgrounds may experience additional challenge in communicating effectively for various reasons, including cultural appropriation, limited vocabulary or experiences. These students will need explicit instruction to achieve their potential.

The provision of tailored support can help these students overcome some of the disadvantages that they experience. The school's learning support team has a role to play in the allocation of support or intervention.

Further information and advice can be found on the High potential and gifted education page.

English as an additional language or dialect

EAL/D learners are students whose first language is a language or dialect other than Standard Australian English who require additional support to assist them to develop English language proficiency. Students learning English are simultaneously learning English, learning in English and learning about English in order to successfully participate in social and academic contexts (EAL/D Advice for Schools, 2020).

The ACARA EAL/D teacher resource provides information about phases of language proficiency and the teaching and learning supports students require as they develop their English language skills.

Learning can be enhanced for EAL/D students through:

  • support from a speaker of their first language to confirm understanding, ask for clarification and build connections between first language and English
  • explicit and focused language teaching
  • opportunities to practice new target language through oral activities
  • targeted contextual scaffolds (for example, visuals and gestures)
  • using bilingual dictionaries including picture dictionaries
  • additional time to complete classroom activities and to process information
  • message abundancy – having the same information presented in multiple ways
  • opportunities for modelled and guided teaching and learning
  • opportunities to reuse, recycle and recast language.

Consider the following key questions/ considerations for supporting EAL/D learners to be successful in the classroom:

  • What are the language and cultural demands of the tasks that will require explicit teaching and scaffolded support so EAL/D students can participate and achieve success?
  • What is the language focus of the learning task and language structures and features to be taught relative to the phase of English language proficiency?
  • How will you adapt teacher instructions so they are provided in a way that EAL/D students can easily interpret them?

Further information and advice can be found on the multicultural education web pages.

English as a second language scales

Teachers should use the ESL scales in conjunction with the syllabus to address the needs of EAL/D students and to assist them to access English curriculum outcomes and content. The ESL scales are designed to heighten awareness of English, how it is used, how it develops and how EAL/D students may be assisted to develop cognitive and linguistic competence. Teachers plan teaching and learning activities to scaffold learning for EAL/D students working towards the achievement of English syllabus outcomes using the ESL scales outcomes and pointers.

Learning across the curriculum

Learning across the curriculum content, including cross-curriculum priorities, general capabilities and other areas identified as important learning for all students where appropriate, have been incorporated and identified during learning experiences. They can be identified with the learning across the curriculum content contained within square brackets.


  • Teaching and learning

Business Unit:

  • Educational Standards
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