Communicating was once a skill learnt as part of everyday life, but it is becoming more important now to formalise the learning of communication skills to fully prepare students for life beyond the school gates. This is where debating, public speaking and Voice and Speech find their place in modern schooling; to ensure all students have the skills to participate in the myriad communities in which they will find themselves. In the process of creating and developing content, conversations with teachers, coaches and students also develop connection and nurture interpersonal relationships. In the course of delivering a speech, arguing point, reciting a poem or sharing a story, students are exploring ways to communicate using expressive vocal tones and positive, open body language and in these forums, students receive feedback on their communication style; something that is rarely received in life. This feedback can help draw attention to how students communicate and provide an opportunity to hone their style to ensure they are presenting in a way that is authentic to their message.
Voice and Speech
Voice and Speech provides students from Years 7-12 with the opportunity to develop their verbal and non-verbal communication and interpretation skills. The overall aim of this program is to produce confident, articulate speakers with highly developed interpersonal and presentation skills. Specific objectives include the development and enhancement of a pleasant, unstrained vocal tone, the promotion of clarity of speech and the fostering of oral interpretation of literature. The supportive environment of the small group encourages the development of confidence, allows flexibility to cater for the needs and interests of individuals, and provides opportunities to practice conversational skills. Students may participate in an AMEB examination at year’s end or take part in a variety of other performance events where they can continue to hone their skills.
Students in Years 7–12 may choose to enrol in the interschool debating program. Working in a team, students will develop skills in researching, persuasive writing, effective communication and group collaboration. Prior experience is not necessary at any level as all teams are allocated a coach who will support them in their research and writing as well as provide expertise in debating technique. Training is also offered to students in all year levels. Loreto Toorak participates in the competition run by the Debaters Association of Victoria and specifically debates in the Hawthorn and Toorak regions.
Public Speaking Group
This group meets once a week and is open to students in Years 7–12. Meetings involve discussion on topical issues, practising improvised speech making and learning how to deliver an engaging speech. Melbourne has a great many public speaking competitions run by a variety of organisations at which public speaking group members are encouraged to participate.