Tell Me Your Story Oral Language Focus

Reflection on Oral Language Strategies

Kathy Rushton and I have just completed Day 1 of the Tell Me Your Story course run through the NSW Teachers Federation Centre for Professional Learning. This was the first day of the three day course where we focused on speaking and listening by considering principles of second language learning as well as the mode continuum.

We looked at the role of the mode continuum (Derewianka, 2014 & Martin, 1985) and how spoken and written like language differ particularly in terms of lexical density. We then considered how choice and sequence of oral language activities supports not only the literacy of students but also builds their confidence and language. Careful design of oral language activities also values cultural identity and their identity as learners (Dutton, D'warte, Rossbridge, & Rushton, 2018).

All activities were done by the teachers in the course as they thought about the language demands and how they could meaningfully contextualise strategies with quality literature and design a sequence of lessons. 

Some of the tasks included:

  • vocabulary clines
  • Readers Theatre
  • freeze frame and drawing
  • barrier game
  • puppet theatre
  • interviewing
  • floorstorming
  • description game.

Tell Me Your Story is running again in Term 4 (5 & 19 November and 3 December).

If you would like other ideas for oral language activities take a look at From speaking to writing: Identity texts on the resources page.


Derewianka, B (2014) Supporting students in the move from spoken to written language. In Englishes in Multilingual Contexts: Language Variation and Education. Dordrecht: Netherlands.

Dutton, J, D'warte, J, Rossbridge, J, & Rushton, K (2018). Tell me your story: Confirming identity and engaging writers in the middle years. PETAA: Sydney.

Martin, J R (1985) Language, register and genre. In F. Christie (Ed.) Children Writing Course Reader. Geelong: Deakin University Press.






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