Spoken Language is a key component of the primary national curriculum and is fundamental to children’s language development and learning. The need for teachers to develop talk in its own right and also use talk as a means of learning is central to effective primary practice. In the past, Initial Teacher Education and CPD have focused on literacy (reading and writing) to the detriment of speaking and listening. However, research strongly supports talk as fundamental to learning and teaching. It has also been identified as an area where teachers feel less confident. This fully updated third edition of Unlocking Speaking and Listening tackles key issues surrounding spoken language with rigour, depth and a strong focus on research, providing education professionals with clear, practical strategies for engaging in purposeful talk, while also celebrating children’s implicit understanding and love of the spoken word.

Drawing on recent classroom research, Unlocking Speaking and Listening considers what children and teachers need to know in order to develop as effective speakers and listeners. The book addresses:

  • Planning and assessing talk
  • Drama and storytelling
  • Working with EAL children
  • Developing talk in Science and Mathematics
  • Special educational needs
  • Using technology to enhance children’s communication

Two new chapters on the importance of talk to underpin children’s reading development are also included.

With contributions from experts in the field, this vital and fully updated resource will help both trainee and practising primary teachers understand and promote the importance of speaking and listening as an effective tool for learning across the primary curriculum.

chapter |5 pages


chapter |12 pages

Speaking and listening

Context and challenge

chapter |16 pages

Speaking and listening

Planning and assessment

chapter |13 pages

Talking to think

Why children need philosophical discussion

chapter |11 pages

Dynamic talk

Speaking, listening and learning through drama

chapter |13 pages

A classroom community of storytellers

Fostering sustained and creative spoken language through story

chapter |18 pages

Conveying the ‘right’ kind of message

Respecting the voices and identities of bilingual learners

chapter |11 pages

Encouraging mathematical talk

chapter |14 pages

Computing curriculum

New opportunities for communication and collaboration