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Our Lady, Star of the Sea

Catholic Primary School

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Oracy and Reading

Historically, reading was seen as an act of oratory; in Closing the Reading Gap, Alex Quigley recounts the story of St Augustine in the 4th Century who was shocked and appalled to witness a fellow saint reading silently in his head rather than aloud. When reading aloud, it is the physical (pace, fluency, intonation) and social-emotional (audience awareness) strands of oracy which are at the forefront. 


When looking at the Oracy Framework, the cognitive and linguistic strands are integral to reading comprehension; during booktalk, it is through the cognitive strand of oracy that students learn the predicting, clarifying, summarising and questioning skills so crucial to reading comprehension.

What’s more, as the EEF Guidance Improving Literacy in Key Stage 2 explains, while students ‘may have the decoding skills required to say a word out loud, they will only be able to understand what it means if it is already in their vocabulary.’ And, as Beck et al. highlighted in the seminal Bringing Words to Life, oral language is the most effective vehicle for learning new words.


Oracy for reading in the EYFS

Oracy should be at the heart of approaches to reading at all stages of schooling. In the report, Language Unlocks Reading: Supporting Early Language and Reading for Every Child, the National Literacy Trust and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Literacy make the case for a structured, targeted and explicit approach to oral language learning in order to support reading development in the EYFS. One interesting and practical approach to improving reading through talk explored in the report is storytelling and story-acting developed by Vivian Gussin Paley. This involves children devising their own stories which the teacher scribes. Later these are read aloud by the teacher while the child acts parts out and allocates others to their peers, providing opportunities for children to learn from each other and extend each other’s narratives orally. 


Oracy and metacognition in reading

Oracy plays an important role in developing students’ understanding of the metacognitive processes implicit in reading. In this short clip from our Book Club with Alex Quigley on Closing the Reading Gap, Alex explains how oracy can support metacognition in reading. Just as Voice 21’s Talk Tactics make explicit the types of contribution needed for educationally productive discussion, the roles which Alex highlights make explicit the strategies that good readers use. Many of them, such as summarising, questioning and clarifying are similar to Voice 21’s Talk Tactics and prompt students to discuss different aspects of a text, strengthening their comprehension skills.  



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