WHAT IS ORACY?
It is not a common term in Canada, but that being said, it’s not a new term either. Andrew Wilkinson and his colleagues at the School of Education at Birmingham University coined the term oracy back in 1965. They were concerned that speaking and listening were not being given as much importance as reading and writing and they felt that the term oracy would elevate the status of talk.
Voice 21, a non-profit organization, has been working on promoting oracy in schools across the United Kingdom since 2016. They define oracy as ‘the ability to articulate ideas, develop understanding and engage with others through spoken language.’
Having also worked on the development and support of our own talk competency, the Provincial Advisory Council for Teachers of English (PACTE) Subcommittee for Talk believes that oracy enables us to navigate the world and our own learning through the skills and processes of talking and listening. Simply put: Oracy is learning to use our voices and learning through our voices.
THE ORACY SKILLS TOOL
Created by the PACTE* Sub-committee for Talk, this document outlines all of the oracy skills described in the Québec Education program (QEP). The Oracy Skills tool is organized into four colour coded categories or strands: physical, cognitive, linguistic and, social and emotional, and all of these fall under the umbrella of the metacognitive strand.
You have at a glance, all of the skills we need to teach for the talk competency Using language to communicate and to learn from Grade One through to Secondary V.
The oracy skills apply to both presentational and exploratory types of talk. When we use the Oracy Skills tool as a guide for planning instruction, we begin by considering the context, audience and purpose of the talk situation.
Terms in bold are explained in the Glossary of Oracy Terms below.
Click on the image to download a copy of the tool or click here.
* The Provincial Advisory Council for Teachers of English (PACTE) is a Ministry-led group. It meets bi-annually to identify issues, share information and consult regarding pedagogical needs, professional development and resources for the teaching of English Language Arts in Québec. The council is comprised of educational professionals from the youth sector and post-secondary, including ELA consultants from the 9 English school boards, representatives from McGill, Bishop’s and Concordia Universities as well as private schools, CEGEP and select Ministry directions. The PACTE Subcommittee for Talk is comprised of 5 pedagogical consultants from various School Boards across the province and the members of the ELA programs team.
PLANNING FOR TALK WITH THE ORACY SKILLS TOOL
The oracy skills apply to both presentational and exploratory types of talk. When we use the tool for planning instruction, we begin by considering the context, audience and purpose of the talk situation.
To illustrate, let’s apply the Oracy Skills tool to an exploratory talk situation, like a small group discussion of a poem.
First, we start by helping students identify the purpose of their discussion – to share and build on ideas in order to construct meaning. To begin, we consider how we do that, and what it looks and sounds like. Students will be drawing heavily on the cognitive strand as they communicate, gather and process ideas and information, and think critically.
Then we consider the audience, a group of peers, and look at the social and emotional strand of the framework to help guide positive interactions. Have we established norms or guidelines for discussion? Are all students comfortable voicing their opinions?
For the context, we refer to the cognitive strand and relate this to the purpose. We might need to introduce or review sentence stems, and brainstorm additions to our existing repertoire. Also, we need to consider the physical and linguistic strands of the framework to determine what works best in this context. Students need to be aware of how to use their voices effectively in a small group setting, within a classroom, and they need to be comfortable using literary terms as they discuss the poem.
Finally, we guide students to reflect on the process, considering all strands of the Oracy Skills tool and using self-evaluation to develop the metacognitive strand.
This interactive tool allows you to plan and develop the oracy skills of your choice in line with the oracy tasks you choose to do with your students.
Click on the image or click here to download the planning tool.
LITERACY TODAY IS UNDERSTANDING THE WORD AND THE WORLD.
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