Understanding the English Curriculum – Oral Communication

The revisions that were made to the Ontario English curriculum in 2007 are intended to develop a range of essential skills in four interrelated areas in students: Oral Communication, Reading and Literature Studies, Media Studies and Writing. The expectations in compulsory English courses are organized in these four strands, or areas of learning. For those who are not as familiar as they would like to be, the following blog series will shed some light on the revised English curriculum, beginning with the first of the four strands, Oral Communication. 

According to the curriculum documents, “Oral language is a fundamental means of communication with others and the cornerstone of learning in all areas”. The new curriculum is designed to improve students’ ability to explore and communicate ideas in the classroom, formal speaking situations and in the ‘real world’. In order to develop oral communication skills, the curriculum provides students need numerous and varied opportunities to listen and to discuss a broad range of topics. Listening and speaking skills are essential for social interaction at home, at school and in the community; “differences in the norms and conventions associated with oral communication in different cultures” are taken into account in the new curriculum.

The Oral Communication strand of the English curriculum encourages students to identify and develop skills and strategies for effective listening and speaking, and “emphasizes the use of higher-order thinking skills to stimulate students’ interest and engage them in their own learning”.  In accordance with the overall expectations for all levels of compulsory English courses, by the end of the course, students will:

  1. Listening to Understand: listen in order to understand and respond appropriately in a variety of situations for a variety of purposes


  1. Speaking to Communicate: use speaking skills and strategies appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes


  1. Reflecting on Skills and Strategies: reflect on and identify their strengths as listeners and speakers, areas for improvement, and the strategies they found most helpful in oral communication situations.


Stay tuned for a follow up blog focusing on the Reading and Literature Studies strand of the English curriculum.


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