Strategies to Develop Expressive Language Skills in the Classroom

  • Opportunities to speak and time to rehearse before speaking
  • Visual clues to help children order ideas effectively before expressing them
  • Vocabulary lists to help with word finding difficulties. Use appropriate and consistent vocabulary
  • Colour coding different groups of words/sets of pictures
  • Giving correct models of language structures
  • Repetition and reinforcement of correct language structures
  • Small group work to give children confidence to express themselves
  • Appropriate questioning to give children the opportunity to reply
  • Self-questioning and the development of learning scripts (e.g. What do I know already? What do I do next?)
  • Rhymes
  • Word play
  • Restrict your language to short unambiguous language
  • Story telling – cutting up picture segments and retelling stories
  • Try and keep children ‘on topic’. Be specific, remind children e.g. ‘We are talking about…’
  • Discussing what they have seen or done with an adult or more verbally able peer
  • Puppet play/drama etc.
  • Sharing books
  • Revise links and associations between ideas and vocabulary – categorisation/function/
    context/similarity/association

As part of the partnership approach, it is important to detail which of these strategies have been most effective.

Barrier games

This can be used for both talking and listening. The child or children either side of the barrier have identical sets of equipment.

One child has a picture or constructs an assembly of objects and then gives instructions to the other to enable him/her to duplicate the picture or assembly.

How do I feel?

In a small group imagine a situation and talk about how you would each feel and what you might say (speech bubbles resource is good here).

Silly Stories

Collection of objects/pictures, e.g., horse, lady, man, child, dog, ball, pirate, dinosaur.  Adult starts story “Once upon a time there was a dinosaur”. Next child (house) continues the story “He lived in a house made of chocolate”.  Next child (ball) “One day  he found a ball under his bed” …..

Narrative

Colour Coding approach.  Children take one colour question ‘Who, What, Where, When’ and sequence a story using their own ideas.

Mind Map Activities

An excellent way for supporting new vocabulary and talking.

Defining and describing

Have a range of objects in a bag or a range of pictures. One child takes an object or picture and is allowed to give 3 pieces of information to describe their item. The rest guess.

Question Question

Barrier game. Once child has an object or picture and the rest ask questions to find out what it is. You cannot say the name of the item.
A good resource is Clowning Around or Guess Who?

What do you know?

Use a composite picture and take turns in the group (mini circle time). Each child giving a new piece of information about the picture. Extend by talking about a particular object or event in which everyone has been involved.

Tell me how to do it

Use a classroom activity or event which has already been experienced and get a child to re-tell the event in his/her own words.

Allow a child to explain to the others how to play a particular game.

Conversation

In a small group it is possible to think about how we behave during a conversation and make explicit the skills we need. There are a couple of good resources for this.

  • Socially Speaking - Taskmaster
  • Talkabout - Taskmaster
  • Time To Talk - LDA

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Last updated: 22 October 2015

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