What Does Not Work for Oral Language Instruction

So far, I have provided you with a small list of sample activities that will help students develop their oral language skills. If you are guided by the instructional strategies for oral language development, as well as the sub-skills that students need to learn, you can find or design many more effective instructional activities.

On the other hand, four common instructional strategies are either not effective or minimally effective.


Reason Why It Does Not Work

Sustained Silent Reading (SSR)

SSR does not require analysis, practice, correction, reflection, or discussion. There is no opportunity to interpret language use from multiple perspectives. SSR might help strengthen existing skills, but it does not help expand or increase skills.


Worksheets cannot engage students in analysis, discussion, practice, or reflection. There is no exploration of ideas or opportunities to interpret text/language from multiple perspectives.

*You could use some types of worksheets, such as graphic organizers, to help students prepare for discussion. By themselves, however, they are not effective for developing oral language skills.

Individual Work (other than worksheets)*

When students work individually, they do not have the opportunity to reflect on or discuss text from multiple perspectives and can not broaden their understanding of language use.

*You could use some types of individual work as a preliminary step to help students prepare their ideas for discussion.

Computerized Instruction

Computerized instructional programs may assist somewhat with phonological skills or vocabulary, but they cannot assist with pragmatics and morphological skills. Those skills are too complex and too dependent upon individual interpretation, situational analysis, context, and culture. Computerized instruction is also very poor for helping students understand syntax.