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Teacher language: It isn’t just what teachers say, but how they say it that matters

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power of our words

The Power of Our Words is a teacher resource book that emphasizes the power of language to shape learners. Written by US-based retired teacher and language researcher Paula Denton, the book offers different strategies for teachers to employ positive language in their classroom as a teaching tool.

Strategies offered are guided by five principles: 1) Be direct, 2) Convey faith in students’ abilities and intentions, 3) Focus on actions, 4) Keep it brief, and 5) Know when to be silent. These principles assist teachers in implementing language practices that support student academic and social success.

A study conducted by researchers at the University of Virginia (Rimm-Kaufman et al, 2006) found that teacher engagement with the positive language practices described in The Power of Our Words was associated with improved math and reading scores as well as better social skills and more positive feelings about school.