Conversations and Classroom Language

Conversations, discussions, debates and story telling (sharing your own news, or talking about a film storyline) are complex communication skills relying on vocabulary, sentence building and planning skills.

Young people have found that it’s easier to develop and practice these skills if we:

(taken from https://www.thecommunicationtrust.org.uk)

  • Allow time for thinking of the answer, planning what to say, and then to say it.
    “Give pupils a chance to answer or comment. Wait – maybe even 5 minutes, don’t interrupt until we’re ready, nod and give eye contact”
  • Treat everyone equally, and listen to everyone’s opinion.
  • Speak at the right level for the young person, thinking carefully about your language (your vocabulary and sentence structures).
  • Check the young person understands after explaining something, and encourage them to ask if they don’t understand

At school:

  • Not too much teacher talk in class please!  “With the best teachers, the lesson revolves around the discussion. They don’t speak for hours and hours.”
  • Discussions and debates help practice communication skills “Teach us how to debate and have discussions in every lesson – let us practice the skills, you get better if you practice”
  • Practical lessons help with learning. Teach the information in lots of different ways

Understanding sequences of information can be challenging, so: 

  • Explain information clearly, breaking it into steps
  • Use a task planner
  • Give instruction steps in the order they need to be done.If you’re retelling a story, or a situation, keep the order of the story the same
  • Pause between steps to give processing time

Activities to practice understanding and following sequences of information are available https://speechandlanguage.info/parents/activities

Visual frameworks, such as thinking maps or this incident narrative, can help young people explain complex information or sequences of events.

BBC Skillswise has information and activities to develop communication skills:

Difficulties organising thoughts and views in sentences, stories and conversations are a feature of DLD.