Spoken communication skills vital in education
A PARENT recently asked my opinion about reports published on literacy results achieved by students across Australia and whether they were a true reflection of ability, to which I promptly and simply replied ... "NO”.
Traditionally literacy means the ability to read and write. During their formative years at school, children are taught and assessed on their skills in these two areas.
But I think we are forgetting the most valuable skill of all - oral language competence.
So, let's talk.
With so much emphasis and time placed on the ability to understand, evaluate, use and engage with written texts, essential skills and strategies needed to be confident speakers and effective listeners are being overlooked.
Oral communication is the process of expressing ideas through the medium of speech and plays a crucial role throughout our lives.
Children begin developing oral language skills well before formal reading and writing instruction.
Children mimic words adults around them use.
A range of language situations are based on our capacity to comprehend the spoken word.
In fact, the ability to communicate effectively using the spoken word is a key foundation to students' capacity to learn in more general ways.
It is crucial for literacy development, with an increasing body of evidence identifying it as a key indicator of children's early reading and writing abilities.
For example, very young children use narrative structure to do things like follow a set of instructions, ask questions, share information and understand spoken stories.
However, as they grow older, less importance is placed on these areas, with more focus on how well they can read and write.
Oral communication is undervalued and is fast becoming a lost skill.
Every word we read, write or understand is first understood as sounds called oral language, integrated into every aspect of our lives.
Parents and caregivers play an important role in a child's oral language development, but as with learning any skill, speaking and listening requires practice and should be a continual priority in our education system.
However, vary rarely are the oral and aural components discussed in reports on literacy levels.
This needs to be talked about, but I wonder if anyone is listening?