Digital literacy tips & tricks: Literacy fundamentals part 1 – Speaking and listening

Last literacy blog post I dived straight into a specific objective – homophones which appear in year 2, years 3&4 and years 5&6 and how images can support. This week I’m starting a 3 part post on the fundamentals of literacy beginning with speaking and listening. James Britton wrote in the 1980s about reading and writing existing on a ‘sea of talk’, hence why posts on reading and writing will follow this one.

As you will be aware, speaking and listening got downgraded in the 2014 curriculum. At a parents meeting at my son’s secondary school, the head was presenting their plan to ensure speaking and listening remains a core part of each year. I was really pleased, as the danger of taking it out of the statutory curriculum document is that is no longer a focus. Hardly surprising if this happens, as there are so many other things to focus on.

However, it is really important that opportunities for speaking and listening are built in throughout every day in every classroom. I thought I would offer 3 different activities using resources from Discovery Education Espresso to support this.

Sound gallery1. The Sound gallery is within Music in the Music search modules. A great activity is to choose two sound effects to play without the students seeing what they are. Have them discuss in pairs what they think they are. Feedback to the class – you will probably find some difference of opinion! Then have pairs create a story to retell using the two sounds. Limit the time and allow beginning of stories, as this is not about reaching the end and completing the story, but using the sounds to generate imagination and work collaboratively on an oral story.

2. One of our Spotlight on strategies is XO let’s go which is a great summarising activity for pairs after you have watched a video. It would work really well for a video with a lot of factual content, here are some suggestions, depending on what your topics are:

This activity can lead on to class questioning, setting up Q&A pairs, analysing or summarising content orally and presenting key parts to an audience, possibly using digital tools.

KS1 Speaking and listening gallery

3. The speaking and listening modules (collection of resources) in English KS1 and English KS2 have a wealth of activities, over 35 in each. Some of my favourites are the storyboard activities in KS1 such as Feeding the lambs which really encourages students to listen as well as look, and the prepared images can be talked about then ordered. Or from KS2 under Performance, using authors speaking such as Dinosaur School with prompts next to the video.

KS2 English Speaking and Listening


  • If you haven’t seen this video already; talking twin babies, it’s a great one to discuss language, fun for both teachers and children.
  • It might be nice to lead on to looking at making podcasts as a form of presenting. The Podcast workshop is a nice starting point. Audacity is a good free option, but as with all software, you will need to check your school’s policy on installing software and if possible speak to your IT support as they may already have a solution available to you.
  • This is a great resource full of ideas from Lancashire grid for learning Assessing speaking and listening.

The have some really good speaking and listening activities.

I hope you click through to some of the resources above and enjoy exploring. Please use the comments box below – we’d love to hear from you.

Find the featured resources:

Sound gallery
KS2 > Music > Music search > Sound gallery
Mary Seacole
KS1 > History > Florence Nightingale and Mary Seacole > Videos > Mary Seacole
What is Diwali?
KS1 > RE > Diwali > Videos > What is Diwali?
Animal classification
KS2 > Science > Classification > Videos > Animal classification
Middle stone age
KS2 > History > Stone Age to Iron Age > Videos > Middle stone age
Feeding the lambs
KS1 > English > Speaking and listening > Storyboards > Feeding the lambs
Dinosaur School
KS2 > English > Speaking and listening gallery > Performance > Dinosaur School
Podcast workshop
KS2 > Computing > Podcast workshop


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  1. Emily Connor said:

    Amazing post.
    I always find it interesting that the kids these days have a plethora of resources to learn from! Lucky them!

    Thanks for this post. 🙂

    • Anna Vaughan said:

      That’s lovely to hear Emily, thanks for your feedback.
      When you look at the possibility of web 2.0 tools alongside digital media, it is amazing what students can have access to.

  2. Dorothy said:

    Great article on digital literacy, it is good that opportunities for speaking and listening are becoming more east-to-understand and to use. Also, if you need an essay of any kind, you can take it here

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