Oral Language Development, it’s not just for Language Learners


Bless ยป The Skeptic Responds The Line for her kind praise of my earlier twin pieces on using technology to meeting the listening and speaking component of the English Language Learner standards.

I discussed how doing audio projects online (or just doing them period), is critical to key standards for English Language Learners that they are tested on (learner level/redesignation tests have a listening and speaking component that where they actually have to listen and speak). Now, I share a part of the Language Arts standards for my state, that cover listening and speaking (see appendix B). These are for all students, not just language learners. Here are some findings:

  1. For Kinder through Second Grade students are supposed to retell stories in logical sequence with an increasing level of detail and complexity as they get older.
  2. For Third Grade make narrative presentations
  3. For Fourth through Sixth Grade make descriptive presentations with increasing levels of detail and complexity as they get older.
  4. For Seventh Grade deliver narrative presentations with detail and complexity.
  5. For Eighth Grade oral response to literature
  6. For Ninth Grade expository presentations
  7. For Tenth and Eleventh Grade persuasive oral argument

Now, there are a number of choices here. They could do presentations reading from index cards in front of the class. They could make posters, and use those to add visual pizzaz, they could do PowerPoints (I’m sure at a variety of different levels of quality) and present to their class, they could do stuff online, or video a standup presentation and post it on the Web. These are all different possibilities. Questions to ask…

  • Where will it be more motivating for them to do their report?
  • Is it worth the time and effort to have them do it online?
  • What other skills will you need? What skills will they need to be taught?
  • How will you structure whatever they do, wherever they do it?

The one thing that should NOT be avoided is having students do listening and speaking activities. ANSWERING QUESTIONS DURING A TEACHER LECTURE IS NOT MEETING THE STANDARD!

by posted under practice/pedagogy | 4 Comments »    
4 Comments to

“Oral Language Development, it’s not just for Language Learners”

  1. February 22nd, 2008 at 7:38 pm      Reply Dina Says:

    As you noted in your comment to me, Alice…what gets tested, gets taught. And as long as there is no universal mainstream Speaking assessment, this standard– arguably vastly more important than on-demand essay-writing– will continue to be overlooked.

    And here’s the kicker: The Speaking standard involves all that stuff that we’re told from Day One naturally helps kids learn! Multi-sensory approaches, body movement, visuals, musical/auditory learning…

    I have a former ESL student who is brilliant academically, but apparently so traumatized by his first few years in the US that he is a selective mute. And this child– because he can write– will graduate, as if there’s nothing wrong, as if there’s not a gaping hole in his pysche that we can do something to help fix.

  2. February 23rd, 2008 at 9:41 am      Reply alicemercer Says:

    Well Dina, you are probably right, but…

    a) if your scores suck (many schools I’ve worked at).

    b) if you have lots of language learners (ditto)

    c) if you need to increase higher order thinking at your school.

    You’ll want to include oral language development. You’ve added a lot of great examples to illustrate my points, and I do thank you! I’d love to put this whole thread up on the next EFL/ELL Carnival that Larry Ferlazzo does.

  3. February 23rd, 2008 at 3:59 pm      Reply Dina Says:

    Ooh– he does an ELL carnival? I could add the NY Standards for Speaking…and yes, we’ve got ’em in NY for mainstream kids too.

  4. February 24th, 2008 at 11:20 am      Reply Damian Says:

    My school is neither A nor B in Alice’s comment above, but I’m *always* trying to C. This isn’t anything to do w/ESL/ELL, but I’ve had my Sophomore English class do a few podcasting projects this year. Obvious tech implications aside, it got them writing and revising multiple times, and also rehearsing delivering speech in engaging ways (e.g., dramatic readings). I hadn’t really addressed these standards to this degree before, and it felt new, uncomfortable, and nebulous at times, but ultimately rewarding.

    It wasn’t until I started them down this road that I realized how little I actually did to meet those standards. I think I, as well as others, thought that class discussions and the occasional oral presentation hit that mark. They help, but not nearly as much as I thought. To hear high-performing native English speakers stumble through their own original text in a dull monotone is tough for a number of reasons.

    The technology came into play in that I was able to digitally record (via Audacity, tablet PC, & mic) and publish for public consumption (via our wiki & Slideshare.net) the work that my kids did. To me, providing the kids with an audience outside our classroom went a long way to making them take ownership of the projects and be more critical of themselves and others during the drafting process.

    Of course, there’s no oral language part of the statewide test they’ll all take as juniors, so I probably should have spent more of that time giving them practice essays.

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