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[Learning conversations] engage, motivate, and challenge...they also help us build ideas, solve problems, and communicate our thoughts. Zwiers & Crawford


Talk is an essential component of the processes of reading and interpreting texts, as well as producing them. In other words, any one competency incorporates all of the other competencies. This is why talk is the cornerstone of the English Language Arts programs in Quebec for elementary (ELA) and secondary (SELA & SELA2).

It is important to remember, that the talk competency is not just about presentations. Students collaborate with peers and teacher through talk for a variety of purpose.  As well, the role of exploratory talk where students have opportunities to sort out their thoughts and make sense of new learning, is a key component of this competency. 

Talk gives students opportunities to:

  • organize their thinking, e.g. role playing, problem-solving, collaborating, asking questions, brainstorming, etc.
  • express and share thoughts, questions, point of view and ideas, e.g. engaging in literature discussions, giving feedback during writing conferences, etc.
  • gather and process information, e.g.  conducting an interview, brainstorming
  • work through problems, come up with solutions, and/or make decisions e.g. as part of an inquiry, in a collaborative team activity, etc.
  • make connections to prior knowledge and experiences
  • expand on their own thinking
  • present a final product, e.g. storytelling, debating, etc.

What students are talking about, how they talk and the purpose for the talk determines the degree to which talk supports learning. If teachers want students to be effective and successful when using talk in classroom activities, they need to guide and scaffold productive talk.

In the following video clip, we go inside a Cycle 2 classroom, to see how Maureen Bowers helps her students gain a deeper understanding of texts through the use of talk. 


You can find the required contexts, or situations that call upon the Talk competency in each English Language Arts program, together with the Progression of Learning documents for elementary and secondary.

Elementary Program (EELA) Cycle One


In this section of the website you will find information and ideas for supporting effective classroom talk. 


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