In order for our students to benefit from a balanced literacy program, we have to think of ways in which speaking and listening happen across the day. I know that sometimes I am a stickler for always asking my students to speak in full sentences, but it is necessary when the language of instruction is often mostly practiced at school.
In Active Literacy Across the Classroom: Strategies for Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening, Heida Hayes says, "I have often noted in my workshops with educators that teachers in our educational environment habitually use the four capacities in a stock sequence—reading, writing, speaking, listening—when, in fact, the order should be reversed. As infants we begin by listening, then speaking, then reading, and then we move on to writing" (P. 13). Similarly, Jim Trelease advocates on listening comprehension as a foundation to build reading, speaking, and writing vocabularies. This is why I agree so much with having speaking and listening as a part of the balanced literacy program.