Oracy skills are not just essential for educational progress; they are critical for successful careers, interpersonal relationships and self-belief. If children can learn to speak with fluency and authority, this will help to give them a positive head start in life. One common theme in the most successful people is their capacity to speak in public with absolute confidence – this makes others believe in them and their abilities. The foundation of this success would have been based on the opportunity to learn speaking skills from a young age. But over the years, the importance of oracy has been downplayed in the curriculum and is in danger of being overlooked.
This article looks at why teaching oracy is so important to develop speaking skills to great effect. School 21 in London develops confident students who can articulate their thoughts and learning with strategies like discussion guidelines, discussion roles, and structured talk tasks. Watch how they use oracy as a strategy in classrooms effectively.
Learning to speak with confidence is at the heart of effective communication. Oracy skills help students to articulate their ideas in a clear and logical way; in turn, this helps students to make sense of their own thought processes. Developing speaking skills is also invaluable in building vocabulary and improving accuracy in grammar. Students that can express themselves clearly will have increased self-esteem in their ability to communicate, and as a result will find it easier to manage university interviews, work meetings or challenging debates.
As students strengthen their oracy skills through classroom discussions, they are also being taught how to reason. The more adept they become in reasoning through speech, the more likely they are to engage with other subjects that have their foundations in logical reasoning, such as science and maths.
Best techniques to develop oracy skills
The beauty of teaching oracy in the classroom is that it’s linked into every aspect of student learning. A discussion about geography, literature or even students’ summer holidays can expand speaking skills. A child who wants to explain an idea about their favourite book and finish with a conclusion is not only answering a question, they are fine-tuning both their oracy and literacy skills. Oracy activities for children don’t need to be complex; they can simply make the most of existing classroom discussions designed to strengthen verbal communication.
Some of the most popular techniques to encourage oracy are giving students a chosen topic and just two minutes to talk about it, including one or two key bullet points. This helps students to cut down on hesitations and keep their speaking concise and to the point. The University of Cambridge has designed an excellent oracy assessment toolkit which is an invaluable resource for teachers to use in the classroom.
Schools can still prioritize oracy skills by taking every opportunity to promote discussions within lessons and by using video to inspire debate and further learning. Students that can fine-tune their verbal communication will feel empowered to express themselves in any situation; crucial tools for future success.