Planning for talk
As you saw in Chapter 4 , ‘The development of language’, language is a vital part of teaching and learning. Mercer and Littleton (2007), for example, have shown that focusing on the quality of spoken dialogue in primary classrooms can signiﬁcantly improve children’s educational attainment. Speaking and listening has been a programme of study in England’s National Curriculum since 1988. There has been an expectation that opportunities for talk should be planned systematically, not only within English or literacy sessions, but across the curriculum so that the development of children’s ability to use talk for thinking and learning is given the same level of attention as key literacy skills. Planning opportunities for talk can broaden and enhance children’s command of language by providing them with a range of different contexts in which to use their speaking and listening skills. It is also important for teachers to understand language development and that speaking and listening skills must be taught from an early age. Whilst for nearly all children the development of language occurs naturally, how to use language effectively is a facet that beneﬁts from teaching.