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For children to be successful with their writing and literacy skills, a lot depends on how fluent and confident they are with oral language. Tip of the Tongue offers a wealth of inspiring resources for the development of oral language and vocabulary, of which a few ideas are shared in this blog.



The truth is oral language is primary, interrelated with written language and it is the basis of verbal thought, social communication, and the complexities of reading and writing.

Giles, 1996

Prior to beginning procedural and persuasive writing, warm up with oral activities such as giving children scenarios to act out. There are a mix of Scenario Cards in Tip of the Tongue covering telephone conversations, procedural instructions, giving presentations and interviews. The teacher manual gives easy to follow pointers for successful oral work in each type of scenario.

Another warm up activity, also included in Tip of the Tongue, could be to encourage pupils to give each other instructions to simple tasks, asking them to be precise in what they are saying when giving instructions, and to be attentive listeners when following instructions. Pupils should also develop the ability to argue a point of view, express opinions and gain self-confidence through various activities with the debate cards, with the teacher manual providing the debate vocabulary and suitable activities that can be developed with each box.

Encourage talk and creation of stories before writing in pairs/ groups with story starter cards and three word cards (try giving children 3 words they must include in their story). It is important for effective writing and language development that children are encouraged to expand vocabulary with homonyms, synonyms and antonym activities. Have fun with idioms and tongue twisters to encourage spoken language.

Theme-based Words of the Day are supplied with each Tip of the Tongue box, on a CD and illustrated on A5 cards to create a word wall. After taking a word a day for three weeks, pupils can then reinforce their new vocabulary using the theme based vocabulary sheet for more discussion. For further reinforcement, this vocabulary sheet can be the basis for whatever genre of writing is currently being developed in your classroom. To retain the vocabulary, the children need to use it in context.

Tip of the Tongue is a fantastic resource to develop enthusiasm, competence and confidence in oral language in young children. The activities included are carefully designed to develop pupils’ receptive and expressive vocabulary in a variety of fun ways. An invaluable resource designed by a primary teacher for teachers.

Dr. Gene Mehigan, Principal Lecturer, Marino Institute of Education

With special thanks to Julieanne Devlin, Teaching Deputy Principal and Oral Language Facilitator for writing this post.

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