Improving your child’s oracy at home

Oracy, or spoken literacy is an important skill for life.  Some occasions, such as job interviews or presentations are obvious – but the ability to be able to listen to people, interpret what they are trying to say and articulate yourself is important every day.

Many parents find that by the time their child becomes a teenager, they don’t talk a great deal at home at all.  This is not unusual!  However there are ways in which you can help improve your child’s oracy skills.

Using the Phone

Get your child to answer the landline when it rings.  They should not be afraid to take messages.  If you have calls to make (such as finding out information from a place you are planning to visit) – why not get them to make the call?

Out and About

If you go out for the day, ask your child to buy the tickets or order the meal in a cafe for the family.  They will enjoy the sense of responsibility.  If your child is shy, explain to them that it’s better to learn to get over this now, than wait until they leave home.


Make some time to talk about what is going on in the world.  Watch the news together and then discuss what has been said.  Listening is an important oracy skill.  Younger children (even year 7 and 8) might benefit from more age-appropriate news such as CBBC Newsround.

Involve them in discussions such as where to go on holiday or who should be doing the chores.  It’s important to show that you are also able to listen to their ideas as well as them understanding that you have the final say!

Help your child increase their vocabulary by suggesting ways they could articulate themselves better.


Reading out loud has the benefit of improving both reading and speaking skills.  Just because your child is now in secondary school doesn’t mean they can’t be read to, or read to you.

Pick a book you’re both interested in and read a chapter each out loud to each other.  Discuss the book.  If your child then reads a bit more by themselves, ask them to summarise the chapter to you to help you catch up.

When your child reads out loud to you, avoid the temptation to correct their pronunciation mid-sentence, wait until they get to the end of the paragraph.

Young Children

If you have much younger children in the family, explain to your teenager how important it is to talk to the little ones.  Ask them to spend time each week talking to their sibling / cousin / niece / nephew about books, toys, TV programmes or anything!  You may find they are more willing to talk to a younger child than an adult.

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