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Talking about talk: Oral communication in the secondary classroom
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Paper presented at the 40th RELC International Seminar on “New dimensions in the teaching of oral communication”, Singapore, 18 - 20 April 2005
The current trend in the teaching of English in Singapore tends towards emphasis on written competency rather than oral fluency. Guided by the marks allocation in a system where the Oral component constitutes a small percentage of the summative assessment, teachers spend more time and resources in teaching comprehension and writing skills.
In light of the recent changes in the Singapore education landscape to allow schools greater autonomy in curriculum planning and assessment, some Integrated Programme centres are shifting more focus to developing oral communication skills as well as teaching language awareness in oral communication. This paper seeks to argue that it is a necessary move that prepares students for a fast-changing world where both quality talk and thought are essential. To reflect the change in priorities, authentic assessments that prioritise forms of talk should be deliberately included in the curriculum. As a case study, we explore how explicit teaching of discussion skills in Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) has facilitated greater language awareness as well as achieved the aims of improving language, cooperative and thinking skills.
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