Having been inspired by the work of Voice 21 and School 21 we spent time deciding which oracy strategies and resources could be adapted and implemented in a Post-16 setting with learners who find it challenging to voice opinions or explain ideas. We chose 2 groups to work with, a GCSE resit group from Hairdressing and Beauty, and a first year A Level Literature group.
What we noticed from the outset is that whilst the A Level learners had a wider range of vocabulary, and subject specific terminology (as well as the confidence of having passed their GCSE English, unlike the resitters) they were still reluctant and unwilling to articulate their ideas through spoken language.
Given the duration of the project, we discussed a range of possible approaches that could be embedded quickly and that would be the least onerous in terms of adaptation, application, and assessment (of the learners and the strategy itself). We also wanted to choose strategies that could be used across both GCSE English Language and A Level English Literature, the two subjects we teach.
We wanted the learners to feel confident and consider themselves to be part of an exciting journey of discovery. The findings of our questionnaire at the beginning of the project showed that all the learners considered oracy to be important and wanted to be better at it.
We tried to apply and be aware of the Four Strands within The Oracy Framework used in Voice 21 (Figure 2d-1) in all of our classroom strategies, namely:
• Physical (voice and body language)
• Linguistic (vocab, language, rhetorical techniques)
• Cognitive (content, structure, clarifying and summarising and reasoning)
• Social and Emotional (working with others, listening and responding, confidence in speaking, audience awareness).
However, there was also an understanding that these were aspirational goals to be achieved across a far longer period of time.