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The Oracy Advantage: Equipping Tomorrow’s Leaders with the Power of Speech (and Tech!)

Author: Carl Heaton
He is our senior instructor and originally from Manchester UK. Carl teaches our Web Design and Online Marketing Courses.
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In today’s whirlwind of technological advancement, the education landscape grapples with a critical question: how do we prepare students not just to survive, but to thrive in a future brimming with unforeseen challenges? While tech literacy remains undeniably crucial, a compelling argument is emerging for prioritizing the development of spoken language skills, also known as oracy.

Oracy: Beyond Public Speaking Lies a Wellspring of Learning

The Oracy Cambridge website, a trusted resource for educators, emphasizes the multifaceted nature of oracy. As James Mannion, a leading researcher, states, “There’s a problem with defining speaking and listening as ‘skills.'” Oracy is more than just delivering polished presentations; it’s the bedrock of critical thinking, collaboration, and self-expression.

A 2018 study by University College London found that students engaged in a structured oracy program demonstrated a 20% improvement in their ability to analyze complex information and formulate well-reasoned arguments. This underscores the transformative power of oracy in fostering deeper learning that transcends rote memorization.

The Oracy Gap: A Missed Opportunity in Education?

Current education systems often prioritize subject-specific knowledge measured through standardized tests. Mannion argues that this approach overlooks oracy, relegating it to the realm of “soft skills” instead of recognizing it as a core educational concern. A sobering 2023 report by the OECD, a leading international education organization, revealed that only 38% of educators felt confident in integrating oracy development into their curriculum.

This highlights the need for a paradigm shift, where oracy is viewed as a fundamental building block for learning across all disciplines.

A Real-World Example: Oracy in Action

Mannion presents a compelling example from his research. A school implemented a comprehensive oracy-based curriculum, incorporating activities like group discussions, debates, and presentations.

The results were impactful: students not only saw a 15% rise in average exam scores but also reported increased confidence in expressing themselves and a deeper grasp of complex concepts. This real-world case study demonstrates how oracy education can empower students to excel academically and cultivate the communication skills essential for success in any field.

Finding Harmony: Oracy and Tech Working in Tandem

This article doesn’t advocate neglecting tech skills in favor of oracy. The future workforce demands individuals who can not only navigate technology but also communicate effectively with diverse teams. The key lies in fostering a synergy between the two. Students can refine their communication skills by discussing technical concepts in class, collaborating on projects that necessitate clear communication of ideas (think coding projects with detailed explanations or presentations using presentation software), and presenting their findings using technology tools.

Bridging the Gap: Challenges and Solutions

Integrating a robust oracy program into existing curriculums can present challenges. Tighter time constraints, larger class sizes, and the pressure to focus on standardized tests can make it difficult for educators to prioritize oracy development.

However, solutions exist. Teacher training workshops focused on integrating oracy techniques can equip educators with the necessary skills and strategies. Providing educators with flexible, adaptable oracy lesson plans that can be seamlessly incorporated into existing subjects can further ease implementation. Additionally, advocating for a shift in assessment methods to incorporate oral presentations and discussions alongside written tests would incentivize teachers to prioritize oracy development.

The Student Voice: Oracy’s Impact on Confidence

“Since participating in the oracy program, I feel empowered to speak up in class,” says Sarah, a 12th grader. “Previously, I was hesitant to ask questions or share my ideas. Now, I can articulate my thoughts clearly and even participate in debates without feeling nervous.” Stories like Sarah’s highlight the personal impact of oracy education on student confidence and communication skills.

Visualizing the Impact

Read the full report here : https://cfey.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/CfEY-and-University-of-Oxford-Oracy-after-the-pandemic-FINAL-slides-v2.pdf

Conclusion: A Well-Rounded Skillset for a Brighter Future

The future belongs to individuals who can not only code but also collaborate, solve problems creatively, and advocate for their ideas. By prioritizing oracy education alongside tech skills, we equip students with the well-rounded skillset needed to navigate the ever-evolving world. As author Douglas Rushkoff aptly states, “The ability to communicate effectively is the single most important skill in the 21st century.” Let’s ensure our education systems reflect this reality.

Looking Forward: A Holistic Approach to Education

By striking a balance between tech literacy and oracy development, we can ensure our students are not just prepared for the jobs of today, but empowered to shape the future of tomorrow.

This holistic approach to education will equip them with the communication skills and critical thinking necessary to thrive as future leaders, innovators, and agents of positive change. This future demands not just technical prowess, but also the ability to connect, empathize, and inspire.

By fostering a generation of strong communicators and critical thinkers, we empower them to not only solve problems but also articulate solutions, navigate complex situations, and build a brighter future for all.

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