On the way to words - Oracy. Debate. Public speaking

This event aims at addressing the issue of oracy as prominent in our language teaching at present times.
It is indubitable that, since its first conceptualization in the ‘60s, the notion of oracy has gained momentum and is now attracting the interest of a very wide audience of educators, creating a singular convergence between its multifarious scientific connections and grass-root applications.

In this gathering, the first of the kind in Italy, international experts will present their updated research in the field, favouring discussion and exchange of views among academicians, professionals and communities of practice.

The Dept. of Oriental Studies at Sapienza University, Rome, in collaboration with TESOL Italy, welcomes all participants interested in the topic.

For ISO Students: participating in this event and the production of a 6000 character report enables you to obtain 1 CFU for ‘further linguistic knowledge’.




Link for remote participation: https://uniroma1.zoom.us/s/83772751552

Participation to the event is valid for Teachers’ Professional Development according to Direttiva MIUR 170/2016




9.30 Registration

10.00 Opening address

10.15 Donna Hurst Tatsuki, Kobe City University ot Foreign Studies, Kobe: «MUN and ELF: New Perspectives on best strategies»

11.00 Sarah Howell, Univ. Politecnica Marche - Ancona:  «An oracy-rich approach: insights and strategies to shape the ELT curriculum»

12.00 Letizia Cinganotto, Univ. Stranieri, Perugia: «Debate: A methodology to enhance learning competencies» 

12.45 Q&A

13.00 Lunch break

14.30 Arlene Holmes-Henderson: «Oracy in schools: recent developments in UK policy and practice»

15.15 Kurt Kohn, Tuebingen University:   «On the emergence of MY English through communication»

16.00 Round up session


Abstracts and Speakers’ Biodata


Arlene Holmes-Henderson

Title: «Oracy in schools: recent developments in UK policy and practice»

Abstract: In this paper, Dr Holmes-Henderson provides an overview of current initiatives to boost the listening and speaking skills of school pupils across the UK. As an expert advisor to the Oracy All-Party Parliamentary Group, Dr Holmes-Henderson has collaborated with parliamentarians and policymakers in England and Scotland on how oracy can be prioritised in curriculum and assessment frameworks. She will share research findings about the impact of the pandemic on children’s language development and will identify priorities for the ‘recovery curriculum’. Policy change is gradual but there are encouraging signs from both the policy community and from the professional community (school leaders, subject associations and teachers) that oracy education is gaining traction. Dr Holmes-Henderson will identify these hopeful indicators and will conjecture about what might be next for oracy in the UK.

Bio: Dr Arlene Holmes-Henderson is a Senior Research Fellow at Christ Church, the University of Oxford where she holds a British Academy Innovation Fellowship (2022-2023) ‘Levelling up through talk: how does oracy education contribute to social mobility and employability?’. She investigates the learning and teaching of classical subjects, oracy and critical skills in schools, universities and communities. Forward with Classics (with Hunt and Musie, Bloomsbury, 2018) was her first book; Inclusive Classics (Routledge, 2022) is her second. Working at the intersection of research, policy and practice, Arlene collaborates closely with policymakers in government and parliament on the Humanities and Education. Twitter: @drarlenehh Website: www.drarlenehh.com



Letizia Cinganotto

Title: «Debate: a methodology to enhance learning competencies»

Abstract: The presentation will highlight the main features of debate as a teaching strategy for language learning, as well as an innovative, student-centered technique, aimed at engaging the learner with interactive, collaborative and effective tasks. Literature on the role of debate as a teaching format for language learning will be discussed, underlining its potential in enhancing the learners’ motivation, language skills and soft skills (critical thinking, cooperation, collaboration, creativity etc.). In order to show how debate can be perceived by teachers and students as a method for enhancing learning competencies and for improving language learning, some initiatives at international and national level will be described and presented, together with some preparatory games and activities aimed at developing oracy and the “four modes of communication” according to the CEFRCV (2020).

Bio: Letizia Cinganotto, former Senior Researcher at INDIRE (National Institute for Documentation, Innovation and Educational Research), Italy, currently teaches language teaching at University for Foreigners of Perugia, Italy. She holds a PhD in synchronic, diachronic and applied Linguistics. She is a member of different working groups and scientific committees on CLIL and language learning both at national and international level. She has presented papers at national and international conferences and published articles and chapters in peer reviewed journals and five volumes on CLIL. She is a member of the consultancy team of the “Pluriliteracies Teaching for Deeper Learning” (PTDL) project promoted by the European Centre of Modern Languages of the Council of Europe



Donna Hurst Tatsuki

Title: «MUN and ELF: New perspectives on best strategies»

Abstract: One of the most important 21st-century skills is the ability to negotiate constructive resolutions. Negotiation is a form of communication that requires more than just language ability. It requires being able to listen to, and communicate with, others within a milieu of diverse language abilities, academic, professional, and cultural backgrounds in an increasingly global society. Added to this is the reality that the majority of English spoken globally is English as a Lingua Franca (ELF). Model United Nations (MUN) simulations are uniquely positioned to help students develop their language ability and their global competencies, as well as being ideal opportunities for participants to experience ELF in an intensely communicative context. A common goal in MUN simulations is to prepare students to solve complex problems that are associated with living in a technological, competitive, and globally connected world. This presentation will introduce some insights drawn from research on ELF in MUN simulations and will summarize some of the best practices in MUN event and delegate preparation.

Bio:  Donna TATSUKI is Professor of Applied Linguistics and Director of the Graduate School for English Language Education and Research at Kobe City University of Foreign Studies, Japan. Her doctoral seminars investigate the interactions between governmental language education policies and classroom practices. Selected areas of her research include the teaching of pragmatics, best practices in language teaching materials, the representations of gender/ethnicity in government-approved language textbooks, and descriptions of ELF-driven multi-party talk-in-interaction in MUN simulations. She has taught in Canada and Japan.



Sarah M. Howell

Title: «An oracy-rich approach: insights and strategies to shape the ELT curriculum»

Abstract: Providing students with an oracy education helps support the students’ mental health and well-being. As students gain more confidence and gradually find their voices, they can express their emotions and interact more effectively with their peers.

During this presentation, we shall discuss how teachers can help their students develop effective oral communication skills and why, according to research, providing students with a high-quality oracy education through explicit oracy instruction is so important for success, not only in school environments but also in the wider world of further education and employment. Experience of an oracy classroom-research project with EFL classes in Italian secondary state schools will be shared, and the impact this project had on both the teachers and students shall be discussed. Practical ideas and strategies for embedding oracy into the classroom through an oracy-rich approach will be provided throughout the presentation.

Bio:  Sarah Howell, is an international author, teacher and researcher. She has published extensively for primary and secondary ELT in different countries and has been running innovative CPD courses for teachers and specialist interventions with students in schools for over 30 years.

Sarah is a Voice 21 trained International Oracy Leader and in 2021, Sarah co-created the Oracy Italy Group to support teachers in developing classroom talk so that all students may have access to dialogic learning and teaching, with opportunities for developing their voice whatever their level. 

She has been a member of TESOL Italy National Executive Committee since 2014 and has served in a number of roles within the Association.

Sarah is Director of Learning and Research at the Oracy Lab, Italy and Adjunct Professor of English at the Università Politecnica Marche, Italy.


Kurt Kohn

Title: «On the emergence of MY English through communication»

Abstract: According to the English-Speaking Union, oracy is "being able to express yourself well. It’s about having the vocabulary to say what you want to say and the ability to structure your thoughts so that they make sense to others." (https://www.esu.org > oracy) In my presentation, I will shift the focus from the lexical and grammatical means of expression to speaker-learners as principal agents of communication and language learning. Special attention will be given to their natural capability for communication (Widdowson, 2015) and a social constructivist "MY English" understanding of how they acquire the language taught (Kohn 2018). Both communication and language learning turn out to be essentially guided by the speaker-learners' requirements of communicative and communal success. Against this backdrop, I will argue for an immersive pedagogical lingua franca approach to help students develop their communicative oracy as emancipated speaker-learners of English (Kohn 2022).

Kohn, K. (2018). MY English: A social constructivist perspective on ELF. Journal of English as a Lingua Franca, 7(1), 1–24. https://doi.org/10.1515/jelf-2018-0001

Kohn, K. (2022). Global Englishes and the pedagogical challenge of developing one’s own voice. Asian Englishes, 24(2), 119–131. https://doi.org/10.1080/13488678.2022.2056795

Widdowson, H. G. (2015). ELF and the pragmatics of language variation. Journal of English as a Lingua Franca, 4(2), 359–372. https://doi.org/10.1515/jelf-2015-0027

Bio:  Kurt Kohn is Professor Emeritus of English and Applied Linguistics at the University of Tübingen (Germany). His professional interests include intercultural communication, foreign language learning and teaching, English as a pedagogical lingua franca, virtual exchange and telecollaboration, and language teacher education. Publications: “A pedagogical lingua franca approach: Emancipating the foreign language learner”. LEARN Journal, 13(2), 2020: 1–14; “Foreign language teaching from a pedagogical lingua franca perspective”. In E. Grazzi (Ed.), An interdisciplinary approach to English as a lingua franca. Status Quaestionis, 19, 2020: 55–72; MY English: A social constructivist perspective on ELF. JELF, 7(1), 2018: 1–24; (with Petra Hoffstaedter) “Learner agency and non-native speaker identity in pedagogical lingua franca conversations: Insights from intercultural telecollaboration in foreign language education”. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 30 (5), 2017: 351–367.


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