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Has the Use of Orality Been Taken Too Far?

Posted by Connie Seale , in Orality 05 June 2018 · 302 views

I recently came across this article, "Has the Use of Orality Been Taken Too Far?" which was originally in an EMQ edition (MissioNexus now hosts them). I found it thought-provoking and relevant as we think about orality in our contexts.


Here's my main take-away from the article: many of us work among literate people who have access to the word in their language. As we look for ways to share, teach, and train, it's good to strategically consider what communication methods will best reach our target audience. Those methods should be varied and regularly re-evaluated for effectiveness. For a long time, there was high reliance on print/literate methods of teaching and a swing was/is needed towards oral methods for many people. However, we shouldn't move away from using the printed word either. A balance is needed! So, I challenge you to consider this as you continue to engage your target audiences with truth!

New to the Orality Blog?

An oral learner is:


Someone whose most effective communication and learning format, style, or method is in accordance with oral formats, as contrasted to literate formats.
Someone who prefers to learn or process information by oral rather than written means. (These are literate people whose preferred communication style is oral rather than literate, even though they can read.)
Someone who cannot read or write (this represents about 5% of the world's population).

Did you know?


There are an estimated 4.35 billion people who are oral learners. This includes 3 billion adults, 900 million very young children, and 450 million children between the ages of eight and fifteen; all of these have basic or below basic literacy skills. They are oral learners because of their limited literacy skills.
The vast majority of missions work has been done for a literate audience. Unfortunately the vast majority of the true audience is therefore not able to connect with the Gospel.
Oral cultures are very relational - they share their lives with one another.
Most oral cultures will communicate with one another in narratives, dialogues and dramas, proverbs, songs, chants, and poetry. When asked what he thought about a new village school headmaster, a Central African replied "Let's watch how he dances".

Partnering Projects

Onestory (OS)

Simply the Story (STS)  

Storying Training for Trainers (ST4T)  

ION  International Orality Network