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Speaking and Listening

Purpose of speaking and listening

English has a important place in education and in society. A high-quality education in English will teach pupils to speak and write fluently so that they can communicate their ideas and emotions to others and through their reading and listening, others can communicate with them. Through speaking, pupils have a chance to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually. Speaking and listening enables pupils to acquire knowledge, to build on what they already know and communicate their understanding, ideas and feelings. All the skills of language are essential to participating fully as a member of society; pupils, who can listen to others as well as explain themselves find success easier than those who can't.



The overarching aim for English in the national curriculum is to promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written word, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment. The national curriculum for English aims to ensure that all pupils:


  • read easily, fluently and with good understanding;


  • develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information;


  • acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language;


  • appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage;


  • write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences;


  • use discussion in order to learn; they should be able to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas;


  • are competent in the arts of speaking and listening, making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debate.


Spoken language

The national curriculum for English reflects the importance of spoken language in pupils’ development across the whole curriculum – cognitively, socially and linguistically. Spoken language underpins the development of reading and writing. The quality and variety of language that pupils hear and speak are vital for developing their vocabulary and grammar and their understanding for reading and writing. Teachers will therefore ensure the continual development of pupils’ confidence and competence in spoken language and listening skills. Pupils will develop a capacity to explain their understanding of books and other reading, and to prepare their ideas before they write. They will be assisted in making their thinking clear to themselves as well as to others and teachers will ensure that pupils build secure foundations by using discussion to probe and remedy their  misconceptions. Pupils will also be taught to understand and use the conventions for discussion and debate.


All pupils will be enabled to participate in and gain knowledge, skills and understanding associated with the artistic practice of drama as well as debate. Pupils should be able to adopt, create and sustain a range of roles, responding appropriately to others in role. They will have opportunities to improvise, devise and script drama for one another and a range of audiences, as well as to rehearse, refine, share and respond thoughtfully to drama and theatre performances.