speaking and listening....

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GCSE English By: Please log in to see tutor details
Subject: English » GCSE English
Last updated: 29/07/2017
Tags: flaunt your vocabulary, job interviews, librevox, speaking and listening, ukyouthparliament

When Ofqual, the body that regulates standards of public examinations, announced that speaking and listening would no longer be allowed to add any marks to the overall grade at GCSE, there was a mixed response from students and teachers alike. Some teachers were relieved; it's almost impossible to imagine how much work is involved in assessing oral coursework. Even organising it is difficult. With increasingly large sizes of classes, how  exactly do you ensure that all the students are actively engaged, when they're not actually the focus of attention? Likewise, some students sighed with relief, especially those who are shy, inarticulate and guaranteed to perform badly.

On the other hand, some teachers were extremely worried. Many students are better at expressing themselves orally than by writing essays, or doing exams, and for those students, making up another 20 per cent through writing is terrifying. Equally, teachers could reassure those students (and themselves!) that their S&L marks would ensure at least C grade...

And when the grades showed a downward turn in August 2014, and 2015, removal of the S&L component was blamed. Even though the lessons formerly devoted to it could now be used to help improve grammar, vocabulary, and the other core skills involved in writing essays, this appears to have had little positive effect.

However, the fact is that speaking and listening are still important, and are still assessed. Instead of affecting the overall grade, students' grade certificates must have endorsement for speaking and listening. And what's really more important, these skills are essential for anyone to be employable, and isn't that at least part of the reason for going to school in the first place? If you can't speak, confidently and intelligently, you won't do well in any interview. If you can't listen, you won't understand anything the interviewer is asking you.

So, even though you won't be formally assessed, you still need to demonstrate sophisticated reasoning and oral response in the classroom. The easiest way to improve your grade is to improve your vocabulary and expression. I recommend watching lots of TV, instead of doing Facebook, and listening to lectures and debates on YouTube.  Librivox has fantastic books, read out loud by people with wonderful voices. For a real treat, Galsworthy's Forsyte Sage is witty and extremely articulate. The best programmes to watch? Well, for writing persuasive essays, letters and speeches, watch Parliament. Read a quality newspaper at least once a week, and think about the issues involved. If you're the kind of student who only talks when you're not supposed to, then rethink your strategy and remember, if you don't listen, much of what comes out of your mouth won't be worth hearing.


Laura Pasternack A-level English Tutor (West London)

About The Author

Teaching is my third and final career and I love it. I get on extremely well with students of all ages and abilities and enjoy watching their confidence and competence develop quickly as they begin to achieve more than they thought possible.

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