Accessing Information: Impact of Oral Expression

A great deal of school success depends upon a student's ability to demonstrate competency through oral communication, such as when answering questions in class or participating in group discussions. Students who are adept at expressing their ideas verbally are often highly successful in meeting the expectations of school and daily life.

Students who have difficulty communicating their ideas orally may reveal signs of hesitation, labored speech, trouble organizing ideas, and/or an overuse of high frequency vocabulary. In addition, students may have difficulty generating ideas or applying concepts during classroom discussions and activities.

Here are some strategies to help students develop their ability to communicate ideas through a focus on oral expression.

Helpful Hints

  • Consider the following techniques to protect a student from humiliation: No reading aloud in class without an opportunity to practice; Questions that can be answered with a one word response: Yes/No, True/False; Questions in advance to prepare before class, etc.  
  • Help students strengthen their oral presentation skills through staging procedures and plenty of support as needed. Provide a safe environment in which students can develop skills. For example, do not grade student presentations; consider them an exercise in skill development.  
  • Incorporate oral recitation activities such as poetry readings, parts in plays, etc. to help students build expressive fluency and presence. Be sure not to put students on the spot or in uncomfortable positions, but do encourage them to challenge themselves. Give students advance practice reading passages, poems, parts, etc. before reading aloud in class.  
  • Allow students extra time to respond to questions. Time for thought has been shown to improve the ability to respond, the complexity of responses, and the quality of responses of students with and without language difficulties.  
  • Allow students to express themselves in ways other than through oral discussion (e.g., writing journal entries, matching pictures, answering true/false questions, role-playing).  
  • Have students arrange oral and written sentences or paragraphs in logical, sequential order.  
  • Have students practice identifying the parts of a story in terms of the beginning, middle or ending. Have students complete stories (orally and in writing) when given a specified beginning or ending.  
  • Have students explain the steps of a procedure orally and in writing. Teach students how to make a flow chart that breaks down a procedure into its component parts.  
  • Give students opportunities to apply new vocabulary in their writing, in classroom discussions and activities, etc.  
  • Guide students in replacing high frequency words in their writing and discussions with more colorful or descriptive words.