Exploring preschool and foundation year teachers talk during oral language teaching interactions

Year: 2016

Author: Nolan, Andrea, Paatsch, Louise, Scull, Janet

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Strong oral language skills are linked to children’s literacy, social and emotional outcomes, and are critical for educational success throughout life. With an established link between children’s limited experiences and lower levels of oral language abilities and underachievement at school, it is crucial for teachers to provide rich opportunities for language development in the classroom. Furthermore, it is important that these experiences occur across sectors – preschool and school. Previous research has focused on identifying the aspects of language that support children’s literacy development rather than exploring the patterns in talk interactions that foster this learning. This study aimed to improve educational outcomes for children experiencing vulnerability by identifying intentional teacher classroom talk practices that support children’s oral language learning. It also aimed to encourage cross sector considerations of practice to facilitate continuity of teaching and learning for these children. This presentation reports some of the findings of a systematic exploration of teachers’ intentional talk during oral language teaching interactions. This study brought together 3 preschool and 6 primary school teachers to critically reflect on practice through the use of video methodology, and facilitate discussion. Teachers recorded their small group intentional oral language teaching sessions and these recordings of practice became the catalyst for pair and group reflection and critique during Shared Learning Sessions (SLS). Throughout the study, teachers and researchers engaged in a process of iterative design, implementation and evaluation, providing distinct opportunities to refine their talk practices based on the evaluation of intentional teaching practices, and to build cross sector understanding and knowledge.Findings from the study indicated that teachers found video recordings of their self-selected teaching practices a useful mechanism for critically reflecting on their intentional oral language teaching interactions. Peer discussions of each other’s practice, facilitated by the researchers, enabled deeper insights into factors that were more facilitative of engaging the children’s oral language development. Technical prowess on how to use the recording device and where to best position it was also important to the quality and content of what was captured. Researcher analysis of the video data highlighted the influence on teacher contingency, identified ‘enhanced talk interactions’ episodes and provides the foundation for future theory building related to language learning by children experiencing vulnerability.