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Improving children’s oracy skills: a qualitative study highlighting the student’s voice towards different dialogic teaching strategies used in the classroom within one U.K. Primary School

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Willcox, Kristian 
Tsapali, Maria 


Throughout the past 50 years, dialogic teaching techniques have experienced some ups and downs. The benefits of dialogic interactions for children's oracy abilities are widely documented in the literature (Maxwell et al., 2015), however the child's perspective is not often highlighted. The current study aims to determine children's perceptions of a sample of dialogic teaching strategies used in one primary setting, as well as how these impact children's self-confidence and participatory processes to engage in educational dialogue. The study focuses on children who face significant socio-economic deprivation because it has previously been discovered that their language development is underdeveloped compared to their more advantaged peers (Millard & Menzies, 2016). The study utilised a semi-structured interviewing technique in an inner-city primary academy in a city located in the southwest of the UK. Eight children aged 9 to 10 and one primary classroom teacher contextualised their experiences during 20-minute semi-structured interviews. Four key themes were extrapolated using thematic analysis. Theme One is an examination of a primary school's overall oracy metacognitive strategy. Theme Two is how this strategy contributes to the development of a dialogic classroom culture. Children from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds can directly benefit from Themes Three (Physicality of Talk) and Four (Visual Indicators), which are prominent and recurrent strategies to boost confidence and involvement. The "Physicality of Talk" theme showed novelty in the field of study because there is a paucity of research on how standing to speak affects a child's perception and increases their confidence to participate in educational discourse. The study has several implications for educational policy, teaching practice, and the use of specific research tools to elicit children's voices.



Dialogic teaching, educational dialogue, oracy, participatory processes, socio-economic background

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CERJ, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge

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