Oral Language

The specification for junior cycle English has a strong focus on the oral dimension of language, including the vital importance of learning through oral language.

There are 13 Oral Language outcomes and they can be viewed here.

Click on the links below to view resources aimed at supporting the teaching of oral language within Junior Cycle English classes and there are also details about the Oral Communication Task.

  • > Classroom Talk
    Click to open/close

    “Talk is the foundation stone of all learning.”

    Classroom talk what the research says

    Classroom Talk: What the Research tells us

    Exploratory Talk

    Exploratory Talk

  • > Dialogic Teaching
    Click to open/close


    Dialogic teaching harnesses the power of talk to stimulate and extend pupils’ thinking and advance their learning and understanding.

    Dialogic teaching pays as much attention to the teacher’s talk as to the pupil’s.

    Dialogic teaching is grounded in research on the relationship between language, learning, thinking and understanding, and in observational evidence on what makes for good learning and teaching.


    No. Dialogic teaching is not a single set method of teaching.

    Dialogic teaching is an approach and a professional outlook rather than a specific method. It is concerned not only with the techniques we use but also the classroom relationships we foster, the balance of power between teacher and taught and the way we conceive knowledge.


    In dialogic classrooms children don’t just provide brief factual answers to ‘test’ or ‘recall’ questions, or merely spot the answer which they think the teacher wants to hear. Instead they learn and are encouraged to:

    • narrate

    • explain

    • analyse

    • speculate

    • imagine

    • explore

    • evaluate

    • discuss

    • argue

    • justify

    • ask questions of their own

    In learning, as in life, all these forms of talk are necessary. To facilitate the different kinds of learning talk, children in dialogic classrooms also:

    • Listen

    • Think about what they hear

    • Give others time to think

    • Respect alternative viewpoints

    Many of the teachers in the dialogic teaching development projects have negotiated ground-rules for talk along the lines above, and these are frequently reviewed with the pupils.

    In dialogic classrooms teachers consciously use discussion and scaffolded dialogue, as well as the other kinds of teacher talk.


    Discussion entails the open exchange of views and information in order to explore issues, test ideas and tackle problems. It can be led by one person (the teacher or a pupil), or it can be undertaken by the group collectively. Scaffolded dialogue involves:

    • Interactions which encourage children to think, and to think in different ways

    • Questions which require much more than simple recall

    • Answers which are followed up and built on rather than merely received

    • Feedback which informs and leads thinking forward as well as encourages

    • Contributions which are extended rather than fragmented

    • Exchanges which chain together into coherent and deepening lines of enquiry

    • Classroom organisation, climate and relationships which make all this possible.

    Again, all of these have their place: no one form of interaction on its own will suffice for the varied purposes, content and contexts of a modern curriculum.


    In dialogic classrooms teachers exploit the potential of five main ways of organising interaction in order to maximise the prospects for dialogue:

    • Whole class teaching

    • Group work (teacher-led)

    • Group work (pupil-led)

    • One-to-one (teacher and pupil)

    • One-to-one (pupil pairs)

    Again, all of these have their place: no one form of interaction on its own will suffice for the varied purposes, content and contexts of a modern curriculum.


    Whatever kinds of teaching and learning talk are on offer, and however the interaction is organised, teaching is more likely to be dialogic if it is:


    Participants address learning tasks together.


    Participants listen to each other, share ideas and consider alternative viewpoints.


    Pupils express their ideas freely, without fear of embarrassment over ‘wrong’ answers, and they help each other to reach common understandings.


    Participants build on answers and other oral contributions and chain them into coherent lines of thinking and understanding.


    Classroom talk, though open and dialogic, is also planned and structured with specific learning goals in view.


    ‘If an answer does not give rise to a new question from itself, it falls out of the dialogue.’

    (Mikhail Bakhtin).

    ‘What ultimately counts is the extent to which teaching requires pupils to think, not just report someone else’s thinking’

    (adapted from Martin Nystrand et al (1997)


    These notes were produced by the PDST for the L1 English & Literacy day for teachers of English in 2013. They are adapted from Robin Alexander,Towards Dialogic Teaching (4th edition, 2008, York: Dialogos).

    See: www.robinalexander.org.uk/dialogic-teaching

    See: www.pdst.ie/node/2529

  • > Oral Language Strategies
    Click to open/close

    Below are 10 oral language strategies to use with students in junior cycle English as you explicitly teach oral language skills. These resources were designed as part of JCT’s work with students and teachers to develop helpful oral language strategies that you may find useful in your classroom.

    Chatter topics strategy sheet

    Chatter Topics

    Interview/Interview Triads

    Interview Triads

    Bus Stop

    Bus Stop

    Choral/Paired/Dramatic Reading

    Choral/Paired/Dramatic Reading

    Hot seating a character

    Hot Seating a Character

    Diamond Nine

    Diamond Nine

    Think - Pair - Share

    Think - Pair - Share

    Using a Place Mat

    Place Mat



    Walking Debate

    Walking Debate

    Conducting research online

    Click on image to play

    Fishbowl discussions

    Watch the three videos below to find out more about fishbowl discussions and why this may be useful to improve the oral communication skills of Junior Cycle English students.

  • > Doc on One Resources
    Click to open/close

    Documentary on One - Junior Cycle Resources

    RTE has partnered with Junior Cycle for Teachers to bring radio documentaries into the classrooms around Ireland. Targeted at 12- 15 year olds, the aim of this partnership is to educate students in literacy skills and encourage a critical ear to radio.

    8 ‘Documentary On One’ productions have been carefully selected for Junior Cycle students. Each radio documentary is accompanied by a worksheet (JCT Inspectorate approved) to enable both students and teachers to analyse, discuss and utilise these radio documentaries within the Junior Cycle English classroom.The documentaries and accompanying worksheets can be found at the links below:

    Theme: Name of Documentary
    Independence: Superdog
    Pride: Playing with Pride
    Storytelling: Lumps of Coal
    Promises: Good day at Blackrock
    Education: Live where you Learn
    Gothic Literature: Dracula was Irish
    Stereotypes: Gleeless
    Love: Love

    The CPD Day 1 resources for the documentary ‘Don’t Go Far’ can be found below.

    Docs on One

    Click on the image above or here to listen to the RTÉ Documentary on One ‘Don’t Go Far’ that was used in Workshop One.

    Resource Pack

    The resource pack contains a 5 lesson class plan linked to learning outcomes from the Junior Cycle English Specification. The main focus of these lessons is teaching register and a variety of strategies and activities are suggested including group collaboration and the RAFT writing strategy. Further strategies for before, during and after reading a text can be found here.

    A transcript of ‘Don’t Go Far’ can be downloaded here.

    Below are the two clips from ‘Don’t Go Far’ used in the Resource Pack:

    Another Doc on One that is recommended as a suitable text for a first year English class is ‘A Farther Education’ . This documentary tells the story of three 13 year old boys from the small island of Inishturk as they are getting ready for the biggest challenge of their lives - going to secondary school.

  • > Oral Communication Assessment
    Click to open/close

    Click here… to view the main learning outcomes to be assessed though the oral communication task.

    This screencast focuses on looking at the key details surrounding the Oral Communication Classroom-Based Assessment. Throughout the screencast there are opportunities to pause and engage in different activities. If you are planning on engaging in the full screencast, inclusive of all activities, the workshop should take approximately 1 hour 30 minutes.

    Screencast Guide Oral CBA

    Facilitator’s Guide
    Click on image to view PDF

    Learning outcomes

    Handout 1: Learning Outcomes
    Click on image to view PDF

    Oral Communication Features of Quality

    Handout 2: Features of Quality
    Click on image to view PDF

  • > Youtube Playlists
    Click to open/close

    We have created YouTube Playlists containing examples of oral communication including speeches, poetry readings and interviews.



    Oral poetry

    Oral Poetry