Appendix 1: Language skills and elements

The language skills that have particular application to each element are shown in Tables 17 to 19 below. The skills in Tables 17, 18 and 19 relate to children’s language learning and development throughout their primary school experience (not just in stages 1 and 2). They are developed as appropriate to each school context and each child’s stage in learning in first and second languages.


Table 17: Language concepts, dispositions and skills – element 1


Oral Language



Element 1 Developing communicative relationships through language

joint attention to topic and intentional communication of meaning - intentionality

awareness of the intentional communication of meaning in text - intentionality

intentional communication of meaning - intentionality

eye contact, gesture, body language - extra-linguistic skills

selecting and reading texts appropriate to purpose and interests - relevance

topic maintenance - relevance

audibility, intonation, pitch, pause, emphasis, pace- paralinguistic skills



responding, initiating, sustaining, hanging over- turn taking  



engaging with a wide range of texts- reading text with accuracy, fluency and meaning (comprehension)


  awareness of meaning and interpretative of text/illustration


active listening and verbal memory




awareness of authors purpose

awareness of purpose

alert and responsive to others’ needs in order to maximise effective communication- awareness of ‘other’


awareness of audience



Table 18: Language concepts, dispositions and skills – element 2


Oral Language



Element 2 Understanding the content and structure of language

articulation skills






accurate letter formation- legibility

phonological skills

alphabetical principles- letters and letter cluster- recognising relationship between sound and language



using and understanding the conventions of print in reading

using and understanding the conventions of print in writing

conceptual understanding, semantic relationships, vocabulary development - semantics

conceptual understanding, semantic relationships, vocabulary development- semantics

using increasingly sophisticated vocabulary in writing - semantics

understanding the organisational rules specifying word order, sentence structure and organisaiton- syntax

identify use of syntax in a range of genres

increasingly accurate and complex sentence structure and morphology - syntax

understanding the rules associated with making changes to words, e.g. plural, tense

grapheme – phoneme cues, semantice cues and syntactical cues - word identification strategies

using phonological and orthographical knowledge to spell words accurately- spelling

verbal memory




Table 19: Language concepts, dispositions and skills – element 3


Oral Language



Element 3 Exploring and using language

engaging appropriately and effectively in conversation






developing a sense of voice

exploring and understanding the aesthetic dimension of text

exploring and understanding the aesthetic dimension of text

exploring and understanding the aesthetic dimension of text

using language to play, in rhymes, puns, jokes and nonsense words and syllables



creating and understanding narrative text - recount, retell, compose stories and personal narratives


creating narrative texts

creating and understanding expository text - factual accounts. Explanations, descriptions, arguments

identifying key points of information in expository texts

creating expository texts

using language to ask questions, make requests, express preferences and opinions, explain, narrate, explore, argue, predict, reason about and justify decisions, explanations and outcomes


Responding to texts through writing

using language to present information to different audiences


expressing opinions, emotions and preferences in writing


using comprehension strategies to interpret, evaluate and respond to text



monitoring comprehension and using fix-up strategies where appropriate

using the writing process to create texts


using text organisational structures to facilitate understanding when reading

using structures and language register appropriate to the genre and form - text organisational structure


Appendix 2: Functions of oral language

The purpose of language is to communicate needs, wants, ideas, information, feelings, and relationships. Understanding the meaning and the communicative function of language are key to children’s language learning. Seven ‘functions’ of language are outlined in the table below. Each function is presented (in the left column), followed by a description (middle column) and a list of appropriate learning opportunities/experiences (right column)10.

Table 20: Fuctions of oral language

We communicate to

We use language to

Realised through

Get things done

(instrumental function)

Identify things, seek and provide information, request assistance, ask, persuade, explain, refer, facilitate

Problem-solving, role-playing, gathering materials

Influence behaviour/feelings/attitudes of others

(regulatory function)

Give information, instruct, direct, persuade, help, manage, organise, negotiate

Making rules in games, giving instructions, constructing persuasive talk, teaching

Get along with others

(interactional function)

Greet, welcome, meet, introduce, take leave, attract attention, congratulate, sustain conversations with familiar/unfamiliar people, interrupt appropriately, negotiate, resolve conflict

Structured play, dialogues and discussions, talking in groups, taking/giving turns, substantive conversations, role-plays and scenarios, talking on the telephone

Express individuality and personal feelings

(Personal function)

Express thoughts, ideas, feelings, recount experiences, explain, predict, narrate, praise, agree/disagree

Making feelings public, interacting with others, talking about topics of interest, retelling, recounting

Seek and learn about the social and physical environment

(heuristic function- tell me why?)

Ask questions, clarify, make request to repeat, investigate, prioritise, discuss, investigate

Q & A, inquiry and research, discussions, interviews, exploratory talk, investigating

Create – stories, games, new worlds, new texts

(imaginative – let’s pretend)

Tell stories (narrate), imagine, experiment, predict, play, anticipate, think of new ideas, play with words, use body language

Stories and dramatisations, rhymes, poems and riddles, nonsense and word-play, storytelling, performances, recitations, drama, skits, puppetry, readers’ theatre

Give information

(representational – I’ve got something to tell you)

Tell, report, inform, comment, share skills, impart knowledge, justify, describe, convey message

Oral reports, class meetings, debates, procedures, scripts


Opportunities for children to practice the functions of language are provided through both Formal Talk Contexts and Informal Talk Contexts (below):


Table 21: Contexts for children to practice the functions of language

Formal Talk Contexts

Informal Talk Contexts

  • Debate
  • Delivering oral messages
  • Dramatic presentations
  • Greeting, Introducing, Thanking, Bidding farewell to someone formally
  • Morning news
  • Report
  • Retelling
  • Storytelling
  • Telling joke/anecdote


  • Brainstorming and listing
  • Child-led play
  • Class discussions
  • Collaborative problem-solving
  • Construction activities
  • Games
  • Giving directions and instructions
  • Individual conferences
  • Joint text (oral or written construction)



10The contents of this table are adapted from Michael Halliday’s Seven Functions of Language (1975) in: Department of Education, WA (2013). First 005. Speaking and Listening Resource Book. Addressing Current Literacy Challenges. Department of Education, Government of Western Australia.