Features of spoken language

When you are listening, you will need to be able to recognise features of language.

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Catriona Shearer on the Reporting Scotland set
Catriona Shearer on the Reporting Scotland set

Speakers will vary their language depending on context, audience and purpose. For example, a newsreader or someone delivering a speech will use more formal language, avoiding contractions and repetition. In a group discussion more informal language is likely to be used and participants might well interrupt each other.

Notice if speakers are using formal or informal language or speaking in a dialect. Think about why they have chosen to communicate in this way.

Tone

Think about how the speaker feels. Language choice and tone of voice will help you decide if someone is, for example, angry, frustrated, being sarcastic or making a joke.

Word choice

A group of teenage school pupils chatting in a library setting
A group of teenage school pupils chatting in a library setting

As in writing, speakers will choose words for particular reasons. Listen carefully and think about why particular words and phrases are used. Is the speaker trying to persuade the audience or make an emotional appeal?

Rhetorical devices

Like writers, speakers will use techniques like repetition, alliteration, onomatopoeia and imagery to achieve particular effects.