Talking about talk: tutor and student expectations of oracy skills in higher education
Although participation in academic speaking events is a key to developing disciplinary understanding, students for whom English is a second language may have limited access to these learning events due to an increasingly dialogic and active higher education pedagogy which places considerable demands on their oracy skills. Drawing on the Oracy Skills Framework we explore disciplinary tutors’ and students’ expectations of oracy skills required for disciplinary study. An analysis of both quantitative and qualitative data found that disciplinary tutors placed importance on the cognitive dimension of oracy skills such as argumentation and asking questions, whilst students placed importance on linguistic accuracy. The findings also suggest that tutors and students lack a shared metalanguage to talk about oracy skills. We argue that a divergence of expectations and lack of shared terminology can result in compromising students’ access to valuable classroom dialogue. The paper concludes with a number of practical suggestions through which both tutors and students can increase their understanding of oracy skills.