“It is through language, especially spoken language,that teachers teach and children learn”. (Alexander, 2006, p. 5). Talk forlearning is one of, if not the most, important parts of children’s learning;this makes sense as it is part of their “everyday life” (Alexander, 2008, p.2).
For many years, especially in the 1960’s and 70’s talk and questioning wasdiscouraged in the classroom, and pedagogy was influenced by Piaget’s ‘lonescientist” whereby a child “develops cognitively by interacting withstimulating materials” (Alexander, 2008, p.1). Thankfully, there has been ashift from the 1980’s onwards to pedagogic practices ensuring that dialoguetake place in the classroom between educators and students and between thepupils themselves. This in part has been thanks to the Vygotskian view that”the child’s cognitive development also requires it to engage, though themedium of spoken language, with adults, other children and the wider culture”.(Alexander. 2008, p.
1) Collaborative learning is now seen as a powerful tool,and as Alexander suggests “if we want children to learn – as well as learn totalk – then what they say probably matters more than what teachers say” (2004,p. 6) Vygotsky (1962) believed a child’s language ability determines thedevelopment of thoughts, in this way the greater a child’s linguistic talent,the better their aptitude is likely to be to learn efficiently and also tounderstand through talk. At Wolsey Academy collaborativelearning is a key focus, and it is therefore why I have decided in this essayto explore primary children’s level of engagement with talking to enhance theirlearning in the classroom. If pupils in the classroom do not get a chance touse talk they can lose out on the benefits of it (Grugeon et al.
2012). In thisessay, I explored how talk in the primary school classroom can be used; (i) to optimisepupil learning; and (ii) as a means of assessment (i.e. listening to their talkto check for understanding). I argue that when used in the right way talk inthe primary classroom between children is a powerful tool that enables childrento gain a deeper understanding of the subjects being taught.