Magazine article NATE Classroom

All Talk (and Quite a Lot of Trousers): A Free Resource for Studying Spoken Language from Key Stage 3 to 5

Magazine article NATE Classroom

All Talk (and Quite a Lot of Trousers): A Free Resource for Studying Spoken Language from Key Stage 3 to 5

Article excerpt



Here's a situation. I walk into my classroom one wet February afternoon. Two girls, who generally sit at the back and giggle, come rushing through the door to stand in front of my desk.

'You know you've ruined it!' the first declares, giggling and pretending to look huffy.

'Ruined what?'

'We can't even go on the bus now, can we?' she turns to her friend, who nods vigorously, and giggles. 'Without starting to analyse everyone's conversations that we hear!'

Yes? Kerching? Get in? Whatever little token of spoken language you use to announce emphatic delight at your own success, this was the moment to use it. They were not the strongest A Level students I'd ever taught, but having got over their horror-hurdle of transcripts, they had discovered the intrinsic fascination of exploring how people make things happen in talk. Call it an intellectual break-through or just good old-fashioned nosiness, it's why the study of spoken language works at A Level, and why, with student centred approaches suited to age and stage, younger students can enjoy it too. Never mind the Controlled Assessment (for a minute), feel the opportunity for engaged personalised learning about something that matters a great deal to lifelong learning, employment and participation in public life.

What is All Talk?

All Talk is a free multimodal resource for learning about spoken language and interaction in everyday life. The resource comprises 15 units of material, grouped into five broad contexts for spoken language and interaction: You Talk, Offline/Online Talk, Street Talk, School Talk and Public Talk. Each unit addresses a particular topic within this grouping. The print and video materials feature examples of spoken English language, drawn from varied social and geographical contexts in the UK. Some attention is given to other languages and dialects, reflecting the wealth of linguistic and communicative resources in the UK today.

In Multilingual me students learn

* Key questions for interviewing people about their languages other than English

* How to make structured notes about people's language experiences

* How to organize interview material and other research to make a podcast

In the video, six Solihull students talk about their diverse experiences as multilingual language users.


The topics address spoken language and interaction broadly. There is coverage of 'multimodal talk', or communication mediated by digital technologies, and a sampling of situations in which people interact by signing in British Sign Language. There is data derived from banal everyday situations as well as practiced verbal art in the forms of comedy and spoken word poetry. There is naturally occurring spoken language from recorded conversation and interaction, as well as scripted dialogue.

In Txt talk students learn

* What 'multimodal talk' is

* Some methods for recording and transcribing txt-talk

* Different explanations people have for txt-talk In one video, lots of people from all walks of life in Portobello Market, London, give their views about txt messaging language; in another, two students interact on Facebook.

All Talk is, in part, a response to the new requirement for the study of Spoken Language in GCSE English Language. It contributes to the resources teachers have available to work with for this, in a context where many will not have encountered extensive study of spoken language and digital interaction in their undergraduate studies. …

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