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Teaching Speaking and Listening Skills

Teaching students valuable and relevant speaking and listening skills is crucial for their future success. Once students leave our classrooms they will need to be able to carefully articulate their thoughts and opinions to various audiences. Read this blog post on how English teachers can help foster these skills in their classrooms from the 2 Peas and a Dog blog.


Speaking skills are very important. Teaching speaking and listening skills that are both valuable and relevant are crucial for their future success. Once students leave our classrooms, they must be able to articulate their thoughts and opinions to various audiences carefully. Read this curated Twitter chat on how English teachers can help foster these skills in their classrooms.

Teaching Speaking and Listening Skills

Q1: In what ways do students practice their speaking skills in your classroom? 

  • Student talk in small groups daily and during class discussions. Sometimes we have formal oral presentations
  • I find many out of the box ideas on Pinterest. It is a fabulous source for quick ideas on just about any topic
  • Not as many formal speeches as I used to; more focus on discussions as per CCSS skills. But students benefit from public speaking 
  • 7th grade students give book talks on their independent reading choices. As part of the ceremony of 12 from the Giver, each student gives a speech announcing another student’s assignment job
  • We have group, partner, class discussions, some formal presentations. Tomorrow we are trying Philosophical Chairs. We also have annual speech competitions in our school, both English & French. Grade 8s present a bilingual speech 
  • Small group discussions are an incredible way to spark student conversation! Especially leading into big classroom discussion!
  • How do they not? Middle school is all about dialogue, collaboration, both formal and informal. Screencastify is a new fun tool
  • I love Socratic Seminars! Literature Circles are another great way to get students discussing a text in a smaller setting
  • Have you used the read/write add on? It allows students to practice fluency by reading aloud their Google Doc
  • Today we had small group “airplane” talks: taxiing for Level 1 questions, flying stage = deepest discussion, landing = recap 
  • Not much experience with speaking – just Modern Woodman contest

Q2: How do you assess students during speaking activities? (Share rubrics, checklists, etc.) 

  • I assess students with a variation of this rubric. Consistency helps them achieve mastery. 
  • I pass this out day 1 & require it in hand for EVERY disc. Top is dense question model. Bottom is accountable talk 
  • Checking off LTs broken down from our big skills. Students also reflect on how they performed on the LTs immediately after 
  • @erik_palmer‘s PVLEGS rubrics & checklists 

Q3: How do you encourage reluctant speakers? 

  • Baby steps?
  • Sometimes I use popsicle sticks with names on them to encourage talking. I also give them a heads up that I will call on them 
  • I like the heads up! Better than putting already nervous kids on the spot
  • Lots of little risk-free practice–no grade attached. And building a comfortable, relaxed environment
  • Whatever it takes. I stand with them if it’s whole group, of have them come in at lunch for extreme cases
  • A lot of small group conversations and discussions prior to large group presentations seems to help!
  • My reluctant speakers like Fish Bowl & Socratic seminars. Smaller audience, more time to share their ideas, and it’s prepared
  • I’ve also had students present in pairs, record their presentation, or choose small groups to present in some circumstances

Q4: What are your favourite speaking and listening assignments? 

  • Students like to discuss Current Events and Hot Topics. I also LOVE book clubs where students can talk to each other
  • Well structured Socratic Seminars can be great 
  • I love to have students use task cards to create improv skits based on the content of the text.
  • Poetry slam has been a big hit, book talks, current events, Socratic seminars, “TED” talks, drama re-enactments 
  • Students really get into debates, although I find I usually have a few who dominate. I like combining live disc. with online chat 
  • Here’s a #hyperdocs I made for a passion project that ends in an oral presentation AVID 8 Passion Speech Project

Q5: Share a resource for teaching speaking skills (book, article, blog post, etc.) 

Check Out These Great Oral Presentations Assignments


Introducing the ultimate Oral Presentations and Public Speaking Bundle designed to ignite your students' passion for delivering captivating presentations.

Get your students excited about oral presentations! Teaching students how to create an engaging oral presentation is an important life skill. Students will practice their oral presentation skills for these assignments: Current Events News Assignment, Hot Topics Debate Assignment, Book Talks, and a Rant Writing Unit. Buy this resource here.


Oral Presentations Public Speaking Bundle

Use this Oral Presentations and Public Speaking Bundle to help teach your students that speaking and presentation skills are important life skills. Students will practice their oral presentation (speaking) skills with these 4 different assignments: Good News, Product Pitch, Book Unboxing, and Spoken Word. Buy this resource here.

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