Speaking in the target language has been central to the teaching and learning of languages since Communicative Language Teaching became the dominant methodological approach more than thirty years ago. Within this approach, which prioritises meaning making, the idea is that learners are encouraged to communicate from the very beginning, and to experiment and create language independently through trial and error, in the belief that the target language system is best learned through the process of struggling to make oneself understood (Finnochiaro and Brumfit, 1983).

Despite the support from theory and policy for speaking, and in particular for spontaneous speaking, it remains challenging to achieve this as the ‘norm’ in the classroom. We are all too familiar with inspection reports that describe pupils’ lack of target language use:

‘Overall there is insufficient emphasis on helping students to use the language spontaneously for real situations. Consequently too few students could speak creatively, or beyond the topic they were studying, by making up their own sentences in an unrehearsed situation’ (Ofsted, 2008, p.12).

More recently, reports note a lack of target language use by teachers. According to these reports:

‘In many of the secondary schools visited, opportunities for students to listen to and communicate in the target language were often limited by many teachers’ unpreparedness to use it. Too often, students were not taught how to respond to everyday requests and thus routine work in the target language and opportunities to use it spontaneously were too few’ (Ofsted, 2011, p.6).

The resources on this wiki aim to support teachers as they prioritise speaking in the design of their schemes of work, and plan their lessons at KS2 and KS3, taking account of the expectations and aspirations for language learning expressed in the new documentation.

The resources are designed with a view to preparing learners at KS2 and KS3 with a secure foundation in speaking, and in particular in spontaneous speaking, that will equip them for the challenges of the new GCSE examination. The resources are organised according to three main strands, which reflect the different aspects of speaking in the Programmes of Study:

  • Interaction (including questions and answers, giving opinions, and classroom language)
  • Presentation and Self-expression (describing people, places, things, expressing and developing ideas)
  • Pronunciation and intonation

Finnochiaro, M. and Brumfit, C. (1983) The Functional-Notional Approach: From Theory to Practice, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) (2008) The changing landscape of languages: an evaluation of language learning 2004/2007, London: HMSO.

Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) (2011) Modern languages: achievement and challenge 2007–2010, London: HMSO.

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