Well said! How to win at elocution

At Our Own English High School, Sharjah – Boys’ Branch (OOB), students are actively encouraged to participate in and practice public speaking – and their efforts appear to be paying off, because they’re winning inter-school competitions for elocution.

Following their latest win at an elocution competition hosted by Crescent English School, Dubai, we caught up with one of the teachers leading the school’s Literary Club to find out if it takes more than just words to win at elocution.

Last month, Samford Sebin, a Grade 8 student at OOB, clinched the winner’s title in the Juniors category of an inter-school elocution competition hosted by Crescent English School, Dubai. Samford spoke on ‘The Effect of Pandemic on Social Relationship’, delivering a three-minute piece written by OOB’s Middle School Supervisor, Shane J Alliew. Watch his lively elocution video here.

Samford’s excellently executed example of elocution earned him and his school great praise and recognition. It also got us thinking about what makes a great debate. To find out, we spoke to Reena Kurian, who runs the Literary Club at OOB.

Why is elocution so highly valued at OOB?

Elocution not only improves a child’s confidence and self-esteem, but it also benefits the student by improving their voice quality through clear speech. All these factors contribute to reducing stress and anxiety. When students practise elocution, their speech becomes clear and easy to understand, with the right pauses at the right intervals. OOB would love to see all its students reach this level, and that’s what we’re aiming for.

How is elocution taught at OOB?

Once the right piece for the right candidate is identified, the preparation starts. Students have to memorise their speech by heart before anything else, after which they start practising with voice modulations, expressions, pronunciations, etc., with teachers training the students for competition.

Which age groups usually take part in elocution competitions?

Preparing students to take part in elocution competitions starts in the primary department. We ensure no stone is left unturned.

Is it taught as part of Drama, English or across the curriculum?

The school’s Drama and Literary Club is one of the most prominent clubs at OOB. The club’s key objective is to draw out innate linguistic endowment in students and empower them with the ability to express themselves clearly and concisely, speak in public and communicate effectively in a formal setting while increasing their knowledge of global current affairs. Although elocution is not specifically covered by the Drama and Literary Club, we do offer training sessions that help develop these skills. Interested students then get plenty of opportunities to demonstrate their talent at the inter-school level.

What does it take to win an elocution competition?

Consistent hard work, dedication, and clarity of thought and words.

Can you share some DIY tips for GEMS colleagues to improve their elocution?

Practise speaking confidently in front of people you’re comfortable with, practise in front of the mirror, watch plays and try to copy speeches.

What advice would you give to teachers that are considering creating an elocution club?

Our clubs are all still online at the moment, but providing opportunities as part of virtual forums and creating platforms for our students to develop their skills is the best we can do for our young learners. For it is through these experiences that true learning happens.