Week 1
 To understand how speaking and listening
underpin all aspects of learning both within
and beyond literacy;
 To explore the different ways that teachers
can engage children in talk-based activities;
 To understand the role of the teacher in
facilitating rather than leading talk.
 What was the impact of your location?
 Do you speak languages other than English?
 Were you/are you aware of being judged how
you talk?
 Was there an influence of your family or
 Were you aware of any impact of different
media or popular culture?
“All that the children write, your response
[as educator] to what they write, their
response to each other, all this takes place
afloat upon a sea of talk. Talk is what
provides the links between you and them
and what they write, between what they
have written and each other.”
(Britton, 1970: 29)
 Talk as part of imaginative engagement
 Drama, role-play, literate activities
 Talk & first-hand experiences
 Interviews, visits, pictures, storytelling
 Directed talk linked to learning
 Talk partners, group discussion,
 What do you
notice about the
children’s use of
 What did you
notice about the
teacher’s use of
 Is there anything
that surprised or
interested you?
 “Dialogic teaching harnesses the power of talk to
engage children, stimulate and extend their thinking
and advance learning and understanding” Alexander
• drilling of facts ideas and routines through constant
• questions that test or prompt recall of what has
previously been encountered
• Questions that cue pupils to work out the answer from
the clues provided
• telling pupils what to do and imparting information and
explaining facts, principles and procedures
• the exchange of ideas with a view
to sharing information and solving
• achieving common understanding
through structured, cumulative
questioning and purposeful
I Initiation
R Response
F Feedback
(Sinclair and Coulthard 1975)
Guide and develop children’s contributions
Are good talk models
Make talk visible
Agree ‘ground rules’
Balance teacher-led discussion and group work
Give them something interesting to talk about
Give space to explore an idea
Ask questions that lead to extended, thoughtful,
reasoned answers.
 Use a repertoire of talk
 Become a dialogic teacher
Alexander (2006)
Exploratory talk is hesitant and incomplete because it
enables the speaker to try out ideas, to hear how they
sound, to see what others make of them, to arrange
information and ideas into different patterns…in
exploratory talk the speaker is more concerned with
sorting out his or her own thoughts.
Barnes D in Dawes L. and Mercer, N. (2008) Exploring Talk in School London: Sage
 Lev Vygotsky
 Jerome Bruner
 Neil Mercer
 Robin Alexander
 Socrates
 Vygotsky stressed that thought is not merely expressed
in words it comes into existence through them
 He considered all speech to be socialised or to have a
communicative function
 Children can learn effectively through interaction with
a more knowledgeable other
Corden, 2000, p.7-8
 New information
 What they know and don’t know
Lev Vygotsky
 How to use language for thinking
 Make sense of the world
you have to develop new ways of using
Mercer, 2007
 By talking, it changes your thinking and then
 Joint activity
 Interthinking
 Intermental space
 Intramental space
 Articulate
 Analyse
 Chains of response
 Modify in the light of other people’s contributions
Bruner argued that:
 Learning is facilitated through organised and
structured learning experiences
 Children need to be provided with opportunities
to extend their current understanding
 Speech is a primary instrument of thought
 Bruner named the provision of appropriate
frameworks for social interaction “scaffolding”.
Corden, 2000, p. 9-11
Plan and set up activities that require:
 talk across the curriculum
 opportunities to talk at length
 speaking to different audiences
 talking with different levels of formality
 talking for different purposes
Open – children answer as they see fit and at the
level of their own understanding
 Probing – further information or clarification is
 Reflective – children have to consider and evaluate
 Hypothetical – children consider situations and
convey opinions, values and perceptions
Primary National Strategy (2006) Excellence and Enjoyment DfES Ref: 0013-2006PCK-EN
 Beginning phase
 Early phase
 Exploratory language
 Consolidating phase
 Conventional phase
 Proficient phase
 Advanced phase
Key indicators - what might you see?
Major teaching emphasis - what is your role?
Previously titled: Indicators for Oral Language Developmental Continuum
First Steps (2006)
o Asking questions
o Including relevant
o Justifying ideas
o Having ground rules
o Using reasoning words –
if, but, because
o Trying to reach an
o Trusting each other and
acting as a team
Mercer et al (1999)
 Actively participate
 Ask each other questions
 Share relevant information
 Give reasons for their views
 Constructively criticise
 Try to reach agreement
Mercer (2007)
Talking to think: why children need philosophical
Robert Fisher’s homepage
 http://www.teachingthinking.net/
 Britton, J. (1970). Language and learning. Harmondsworth: Penguin
 Geekie, P., Camborne, B., & Fitzsimmons, P. (1999) Understanding
Literacy Development. Stoke-on-Trent: Trentham Books pp.107-117
Medwell, J., Wray, D., Pouslon, L., Fox, R., (220020 Teaching Literacy
Effectively in the Primary School.
Mercer, N. (2000) Words & Minds. London: Routledge pp. 121-137
Mercer, N. (1995) The Guided Construction of Knowledge. Clevedon:
Multilingual Matters
Mercer, N. & Littleton, K. (2007) Dialogue and the development of
children’s thinking. London:Routledge
Myhill, D., Jones, S. & Hopper, R. (2006) Talking, Listening and
Learning. Berkshire: OUP
NAA (2004) Building a Picture of What Children Can Do. London: NAA
OfSTED (2005) English 2000-2005: A review of inspection evidence.
London: Ofsted