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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/31781

Title: A Comparative Study of ELL and EL1 Narrative Competence During the Kindergarten Years
Authors: Hipfner-Boucher, Kathleen
Advisor: Pelletier, Janette
Department: Human Development and Applied Psychology
Keywords: narrative competence
English Language Learners
emergent literacy
vocabulary
story generation
Issue Date: 9-Jan-2012
Abstract: Stories are complex linguistic constructions through which we share our interpretations of the social world. The ability to comprehend and produce stories is referred to as narrative competence. Narrative competence is rooted in social interactions in the preschool years that foster a sense of story structure and familiarity with story language. It has been shown to play a critical role in reading and writing achievement in the elementary school years since the language of literacy, like the language of storytelling, is predominantly decontextualized. The mastery of decontextualized language poses a significant challenge for children who enter kindergarten with little previous exposure to the majority language. The storytelling ability of these children was the focus of the present study. The study's primary aim was to examine second language narrative competence across the kindergarten years by comparing the fictional stories generated by a cross-section of EL1 and ELL junior and senior kindergarten children in response to a wordless picture book from the point of view of macrostructure (story structure), microstructure (story language), and the use of evaluative language. Grade and gender differences across and within language groups were also considered. A second aim of the study was to examine the relationship between narrative competence and receptive vocabulary and between narrative competence and print-based emergent reading skill. Overall, the results suggested that the ELL children's narratives were comparable to those of their EL1 counterparts with respect to most measures of microstructure, and with respect to macrostructure and evaluative language use. The one clear language-based difference favouring the EL1 children related to morpho-syntactic quality. Age-related differences were obtained on most measures and the results suggested parallel developmental trajectories across language groups. Gender was found to play a more prominent role in ELL than EL1 narrative performance. Few aspects of narrative were predicted by receptive vocabulary, suggesting dissociation between word- and discourse-level skills, particularly among the ELL children. On the other hand, emergent literacy scores predicted several aspects of microstructure, macrostructure and evaluative language use. The study provides evidence that various aspects of narrative competence might be differentially related to vocabulary and emergent literacy skills in ELL and EL1 kindergarten children.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/31781
Appears in Collections:Doctoral

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