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[Learning conversations] engage, motivate, and challenge...they also help us build ideas, solve problems, and communicate our thoughts. Zwiers & Crawford


Talk is an essential component of the processes of reading and interpreting texts, as well as producing them. This is why talk is the cornerstone of the English Language Arts program.

Students collaborate with peers and teacher through talk for a variety of purpose. As well, the role of exploratory talk where students have opportunities to sort out their thoughts and make sense of new learning, is a key component of this competency. This is "Talk to learn".

Talk gives students opportunities to:

  • organize their thinking, e.g. role playing, problem-solving, collaborating, asking questions, brainstorming, etc.
  • express and share thoughts, questions, point of view and ideas, e.g. engaging in literature discussions, giving feedback during writing conferences, etc.
  • gather and process information, e.g. conducting an interview, brainstorming
  • work through problems, come up with solutions, and/or make decisions e.g. as part of an inquiry, in a collaborative team activity, etc.
  • make connections to prior knowledge and experiences
  • expand on their own thinking
  • present a final product, e.g. storytelling, debating, etc.

What students are talking about, how they talk and the purpose for the talk determines the degree to which talk supports learning. If teachers want students to be effective and successful when using talk in classroom activities, they need to teach, guide and scaffold productive talk.

In the following video clip, we go inside a Cycle 2 classroom, to see how Maureen Bowers helps her students gain a deeper understanding of texts through the use of talk. 


You can find the required contexts, or situations that call upon the Talk competency in the Elementary English Language Arts program and in the Progression of Learning document.

In this section of the website you will find information and ideas for supporting effective classroom talk. 


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Additional Resources

Zwiers, J. & Crawford, M. (2011). Academic Conversations: Classroom Talk That Fosters Critical Thinking and Content Understandings. Portland, ME: Stenhouse Publishers.