Grade 3 Milestones: Excellent English – Listening and Speaking

We have written several articles already about the progress that children will make in their schooling. We have looked at Grade R, Grade 1 and Grade 2 milestones. The focus has been on two main areas of schooling: English reading and writing, and progress in Mathematics.

We now continue with English Grade for Grade 3’s.

Grade 3, a pivotal year of schooling: Reading to Learn

We have written about the importance of Grade 3 before. Up until now students have been learning to read. In the third grade they begin reading to learn.

Those who do not make this transition have a very difficult time catching up. This is because so much is taught via writing, throughout your school career, and even beyond. How well you do in Grade 3 has become a key indicator of future school success. Those who are doing well in this grade continue to do well throughout their school careers. Those who fall behind often never catch up.

Grade 3 English: Home Language

The CAPS English as a Home Language course focuses on a few key areas. These are listening and speaking, reading and phonics, writing and speech components. There are specific aims and outcomes for each term. Each term builds on the preceding term and sets up the student for the next term. They are also inter-related. For example, as their reading improves, their solving of word sums will also get better.

Grade 3 Oral development: Listening and speaking


The first term begins with the student talking about personal experiences. This means relating news of what they have been doing and expressing personal opinions and feelings.

The children will also grow in their ability to listen without interrupting. This helps them learn to show respect for other speakers as they take turns.

Third graders should also begin to grasp that there are appropriate ways to speak to others. They speak differently to their friends than they do to adults. There is a particular way a student tells their parents about something that happened, but when they tell their friends about the same event there will be appropriate differences in how the story is told. 

In the first five weeks, a student must be able to respond to a list of at least four complex instructions. They must be able to make the appropriate responses to those directions.

After listening to a story, grade 3 pupils must be able to identify the main idea of the tale. They should also grasp and understand details of the story. Correct answers should be given to questions such as whether the title of the story was appropriate. They should give reasons for their answers from the story.

Third graders should be able to give their feelings about what happened in the story they heard. They must also give reasons for why they feel as they do.

When participating in discussions, a grade 3 should show sensitivity to how others feel. Questions should be asked and answered. They need to also give reasons for answers they give.


Pupils in grade 3 must listen to and respond to instructions and announcements given via radio or intercom. Their ability to express their personal thoughts and feelings when talking about their own experiences should also develop.

They listen to songs, stories and poems, expressing feelings about what they have heard. They can give reasons for their responses to the tale they have been told.

Grade threes can also begin to predict what will occur in a story. They can do this with support. For example, when shown a book’s cover, they can give their ideas about what the story is about. They can also connect causes with effects. They realise what earlier events lead to later occurrences and outcomes.

Appropriate language will be used for subjects and topics. When discussing the solar system, planets, moons and space will be referred to. When talking about life skills, the appropriate words for that subject will be utilised.

They can suggest ways that a problem can be solved. In this regard, a specific focus is placed on math word problems.

By the end of this term, language can be used to explore different options. Information can be compared, contrasted and analysed. They can consider how the way a child eats is the same and different from how other species eat.

Grade 3’s can ask questions to get more information on activities. They also ask for clarification and plan responses. 

More complex instructions – at least five – can be heard and followed. An oral presentation will be given in the first three weeks of the term.

Longer stories can be listened to with interest. Simple stories can be told. These will have different characters and a straightforward plot. They can also listen to jokes and riddles at this stage. They are able to make their own up.

Third graders can take part in class group discussions. They can suggest topics and contribute ideas. General news events can be talked about. The students will express their opinions and feelings.


Throughout the year, Grade 3’s should be using a larger and larger vocabulary. Students can make an oral presentation that will be well sequenced and logical. The topic will be a news story or personal experience.

The ability to offer solutions to problems will also continue to improve. This can be seen especially in word problems in maths.

Stories can be listened to, and the cause and effects readily identified. They will be able to interview people for specific purposes. This can be to find out what jobs the interviewees do, for example.

Third graders can also put events into a logical order and sequence. Stories they make up will have a beginning, middle and end.

They can also answer open-ended questions. The most common forms of open-ended questions begin with “what” and “how”.


By this time, third graders can discuss texts. They can understand and talk about synonyms and antonyms, as well as exclamation marks. They know what a command, question and statement are. They can identify subjects, objects and verbs in a sentence. By now they are proficient in using different language for different subjects, as is appropriate.

At this stage a grade 3 has developed the social skill of engaging in a conversation. They respect and accept the way other people might speak.

They can tell jokes and riddles. While doing so, there will be intonation and volume that is appropriate. This is how language is used imaginatively at this age. Stories told will make use of different facial expressions and gestures. Descriptive language will also be employed.

Listening to stories will mean being able to pick out details. Open-ended questions will be fielded based on the details of the stories. The cause and effects of the stories can be explored. Alternative scenarios can be discussed.

Opinions and feelings about a text can be verbalised. Clear reasons can be given. Solutions to problems will involve higher-order thinking skills.

This term’s oral presentation will make use of a visual aid.

Japari is there to ensure success at school!

It can be very scary to see your child struggling with their listening and speaking. Knowing how much hinges on this grade can be daunting.

We are there to assist your child. We have a long track record of helping pupils that have gaps in their learning fill those gaps. We can help your child to thrive at school.

Our remedial approach has been bearing fruit for decades. We specialise in helping children with learning difficulties. Our specialist staff can assess and determine specific learning needs that a student might have.

We can then meet those needs. Our greatest satisfaction is seeing children who have struggled success in their schooling.

Whatever their primary grade, Japari is there to help. Contact us today to see how we can help!

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