This article may be of interest to teachers, speech and language therapists, and other professionals working in schools. Below is a summary of the paper, as well as the full reference if you would like to know more.
Good oral language skills are crucial for literacy development and academic success across the curriculum. It is therefore important to create a learning environment that enhances oral communication, something which requires practitioners to use their knowledge of language development to monitor classroom interactions and to adapt the classroom context. In response to this need, and as part of the Better Communication Research Programme (BCRP), Professor Julie Dockrell and colleagues (Dockrell et al., 2014) developed the Communication Supporting Classrooms Observation Tool. This is a checklist that allows practitioners to look at the ways in which a specific classroom supports oral language, with a focus on Reception and Key Stage 1 (children aged 4-7 years). The checklist was developed based on a review of relevant empirical and evidence-based studies along with Ofsted and Government reports and policy documents, and was designed to cover three dimensions:
- Language Learning Environment – the physical environment/learning context
- Language Learning Opportunities – the opportunities present within the setting to support language development
- Language Learning Interactions – the ways in which adults in the setting talk to children
Each dimension comprises a number of items to be scored during the observation period, and guidance on scoring is provided along with examples for each item. The tool was trialled in 101 classrooms across 39 English schools. Overall, a large number of classrooms scored highly on the ‘Language Learning Environment’ dimension, but scores were lower for ‘Language Learning Opportunities’ and ‘Language Learning Interactions’. The CsC Observation Tool has the potential to be used by teachers, speech and language therapists, and other education professionals to evaluate current classroom practice, set targets and identify areas for further training and provide a measure of progress following intervention.
The online reference for this article is:
Dockrell, J. E., Bakopoulou, I., Law, J., Spencer, S., & Lindsay, G. (2015). Capturing communication supporting classrooms: The development of a tool and feasibility study. Child Language Teaching and Therapy. doi: 10.1177/0265659015572165
Professor Julie Dockrell is based at the UCL Institute of Education. To find out more about her research, see: