Oral Foundations--Part 1

Barbara, our guest blogger,
highlights key points about
the importance of accounatbale talk in
Part 1
Bridging English-Ch. 4

“People listened for thousands of years in all cultures to the Shaman, the Bard, the Story-teller, the Minstrel, who embodied their history, philosophy, literature, drama, and the meaning of life” (MacNeil, 1989, p. 1997).

“To speak or not to speak?” that is the burning question of English teachers across the country. Do we make our students participate in oral foundations otherwise known as oral language activities, creative drama activities and alternative oral strategies, while kicking and screaming or can we somehow persuade them that to be able to speak is to be able to express themselves and be heard?

This chapter deals with suggestions to help encourage students to express themselves in and outside of the classroom. There are many teaching strategies that we as English teachers can use to persuade our students to speak. Dramatic moments encourage personal growth of students in risk taking, creativity, cooperative learning, role playing, and language development.

 From monologues to reader’s theater to poetry and drama students need to be encouraged to speak and have fun while doing so.

We as their teachers need to lead the way by example and participation to encourage all students to join in the fun known as Oral Language.

Ten Oral Language Activities:

Purposes for Oral Language Activities:
·         to engage and energize students
·         to provide a platform for group interaction and collective problem-solving
·         to enlarge understanding of the other more visceral, lived through experiences
·         to establish a context for reading character and situation in literature, fiction, and nonfiction
·         to broaden awareness of verbal and nonverbal communication
Creative Drama

Creative Drama asks students to put actions and original words together in a dramatic situation.
Thirteen Creative Drama Activities:

Figure 4-5 Creative drama: Index of activities from fixed to free
Chart from Bridging English, 5th Ed, Chapter 4

Purposes for Creative Drama:
  •        content goals lead to learning through drama; the other leads to learning about drama
  •         serves to teach important concepts in the curriculum
  •         lead students into a deeper appreciation of formal drama written by playwrights for performance on stage
  •          makes an impact on five important aspects on personal growth: creativity, language development, role playing, risk taking, and cooperative learning

Using Readers’ Theater, Storytelling, and Interviewing as Alternative Oral Strategies

Readers’ Theater places readers in “minimal theater” where students act out significant scenes from literature. Teachers and students can write scripts or adapt scripts. Teachers can assign speaking parts and students stand to read. Students have the opportunity to enhance comprehension of what they are reading and the opportunity to develop fluency.
Common Features include:
  •        Stage sets are minimal.
  •         Costumes and props are simple.
  •         Scripts are visible so memorization is unnecessary.
  •         Narration frames the dramatic presentation.
  •         The use of the voice, face, and gestures set the dramatic impact.

What do you think?
Which creative drama activity appeals to you and why?
What is your favorite type of oral language activity?

Bridging English, 5th ed. by Milner & Milner& amp; Mitchell