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Talk for Writing

05 May 2017

You can walk the talk, but can you talk the write?

'Talk for Writing' is a fantastic way to develop children’s writing. For developing writers it is very helpful if creative and thinking processes can be made explicit and explored through talk in a supportive learning context. It is this developmental exploration, through talk, of the thinking and creative processes involved in being a writer that is called ‘Talk for writing’.

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Talk for Writing has been developed as an initiative by Pie Corbett. He says, "If children learn stories orally, it improves the quality of their writing and develops the children's self-confidence as story tellers. If a child knows a story really well, it makes the task of writing easier because they do not have to compose at the same time as tackling handwriting, spelling and punctuation."

In the Early Years at NAIS Pudong, as young as Nursery, we continually embrace the fundamental and overarching principals of Talk for Writing. The children are encouraged to embrace key language they need for a particular topic orally before they try reading and analysing it. Initially fun activities help them rehearse the pattern of the language they need, followed by shared writing to show them how to form their writing, children are helped to write in the same style. Learning and remembering texts helps children say the text and know the general idea of the text before they start to write.  When they sit down to write they can focus upon the best way to express what they want to say.

Learning and remembering a text is a multi-sensory method of teaching children stories so that they know them off by heart.  This results in both structure and language patterns becoming embedded or internalised.  The writer can then readily draw upon them to create new texts.

The multi-sensory approach includes hand actions to help support the memory for parts of the text and a visual text map to support retelling.

We have introduced the children in Reception to the text “The Enormous Turnip”; immersing ourselves within the text through role play, exploring art and design, story mapping, small world play, puppet making and various other multi-sensory approaches. Talk for writing is a key part of the learning process and essential to the development of writing skills. Talk in general also supports children’s confidence in formulating ideas and sharing these with others.

“Linguistically, children cannot write sentences unless they can say them and they cannot say them unless they hear them a lot.”

Pie Corbett