Use of language requirement

TEACHERS of all subjects can help pupils develop their use of language in different contexts. Enhancing pupils' language enhances their subject learning through the development of different vocabularies and patterns of language. All subjects depend to some degree on the development of speaking, listening, writing and reading skills. This is the aim of the new Use of Language requirement in the revised national curriculum.

To help teachers with the Use of Language requirement, we have built Language for Learning into the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority Schemes of Work for subjects at key stage 4. Many schools have been working on literacy across subjects at key stage 3 and more than 60 schools have contributed to QCA's work in this area.

The impact of the National Literacy Strategy on standards in primary schools means that most pupils beginning key stage 3 have the language skills that enable them to tackle the breadth of the secondary curriculum with confidence.

To help secondary teachers build on these skills, QCA has produced new guidance 'Language for Learning in Key Stage 3'. It sets out how language is integral to each subject, how teachers might reinforce what pupils can already do and build on these skills so that pupils can use them independently and appropriately.

The key to success is to develop a co-ordinated whole-school approach. The booklet sets out key language objectives relevant to every subject and suggests ways in which senior managers, heads of department and classroom teachers can co-ordinate across the curriculum.

Specific whole-school strategies are suggested such as approaches to reading, marking, and oral participation by pupils. The QCA has been working with the National Literacy Strategy so that the Language for Learning objectives link to the new framework for English. We are also working together on training materials, both for whole-schools and for particular sbject areas.

The booklet contains a series of practical examples of how schools have been integrating the Language for Learning objectives into their specialist teaching in all subjects. For example:

* Groups of pupils are asked to research some aspect of volcanoes and then prepare a short talk on their research. Subsequently, after discussion, each group has to complete an evaluation sheet explaining what their talk was about and what they learned from the presentations (speaking and listening objective - geography, Year 7).

* Pupils write on the question: why was there a revolution in France? They are supported by a basic essay structure with essential questions and issues they have to tackle. The marking scheme stresses account accuracy, clarity of introduction and conclusion, development of reasons and arguments, sentence and paragraph structure (writing objective - history, Year 8).

* Pupils are shown how the linguistic, graphic and layout features of a Greenpeace leaflet are organised for particular effects. They are then given other similar leaflets to analyse (reading objective - science, Year 9).

The publication includes the Language for Learning objectives for Years 7, 8 and 9. In addition there are classroom examples like those above to illustrate teaching the objectives for speaking and listening, reading and vocabulary, and spelling. There is a guide to how language has been included in schemes of work and suggestions for co-ordinated school approaches. We hope it will be a useful resource both for those starting out on language work in all subjects and also to support to those who have already begun.

'Language for Learning in Key Stage 3' will be distributed to secondary schools at the beginning of June.

Sue Horner is principalsubject officer, English, for the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, 29 Bolton Street, London W1Y 7PDTel: 020 7509

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