Whilst planning an assembly on the Sochi Winter Olympics, I came across the BBC’s trailer for their coverage of the event. The chilling voice is that of Charles Dance, who plays the ruthless Tywin Lannister in Game of Thrones. His diction combined with the rhetoric of the writer create a powerful piece.
How great it would be if we could encourage children to aspire to this level of performance. For sure, children need to see and hear excellence in oracy. But they also need to deliberately practise the strategies that great performers use. Dance makes deliberate decisions on the speed, pitch and volume of his words. He also pauses in carefully chosen places and elongates or stresses certain words. Experimenting with all of these strategies, comparing the effectiveness of a slower or faster speed, a higher or lower pitch, or a louder or quieter volume would be a good starting point.
In Talk for Writing, children internalise texts to build up an internal bank of effective language patterns and structures so that they can be adapted. This internalisation is usually supported by a text map, which acts as a retrieval cue for children, getting them to practise remembering the language patterns.
Children with an internal bank of quality texts, which are made up of effective rhetoric and sophisticated language patterns, are more effective writers. They’ll have a broader general knowledge and cultural capital, and if they have learned the strategies of great speakers, will be articulate too.
My intention now is to use Dance’s monologue to further fuel aspiration for great speaking and effective rhetoric. I want Dance’s delivery and the words he utters to be part of children’s internal banks of texts. Below is a text map that they’ll use to help them.