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Learning language and using language to learn is at the core of any educational activity. Bringing together a globally representative team of experts, this volume presents an innovative and empirically robust collection of studies that examine the role of language in education, with a particular emphasis on features of school-relevant language in middle childhood and adolescents, and its precursors in early childhood. It addresses issues such as how children's linguistic and literacy experiences at home prepare them for school, how the classroom functions as a language-mediated learning environment, and how schools can support language minority students in academic attainment. Set in three parts - Early Childhood, Middle Childhood and Adolescence and Learning in Multilingual Contexts - each part features a discussion from experts in the field to stimulate conversation and further routes for research. Its structure will make it useful for anyone interested in ongoing efforts towards building a pedagogically relevant theory of language learning.
Beyond academic vocabulary, the constellation of skills that comprise academic language proficiency has remained imprecisely defined. This study proposes an expanded operationalization of this construct referred to as core academic language skills (CALS). CALS refers to the knowledge and deployment of a repertoire of language forms and functions that co-occur with school learning tasks across disciplines. Using an innovative instrument, we explored CALS in a cross-sectional sample of 235 students in Grades 4–8. The results revealed between- and within-grade variability in CALS. Psychometric analyses yielded strong reliability and supported the presence of a single CALS factor, which was found to be predictive of reading comprehension. Our findings suggest that the CALS construct and instrument appear promising for exploring students’ school-relevant language skills.
This study describes how young Spanish-speaking children become gradually more adept at encoding temporality using grammar and discourse skills in intra-conversational narratives. The research involved parallel case studies of two Spanish-speaking children followed longitudinally from ages two to three. Type/token frequencies of verb tense, temporal/aspectual markers and narrative components were analyzed to explore interrelationships among grammatical and discourse skills. Children progressed from scattered unsystematic means of encoding temporality to mastering a basic linguistic system that included devices to mark location of events, temporal relations and aspectual meanings. The consolidation of perfective past tense to express narrative events marked a crucial developmental point which preceded an explosion of additional verb tenses and temporal markers. The value of spontaneous language data, and the need to study grammar and discourse simultaneously to construct a comprehensive developmental picture are highlighted. Results are discussed in relation to theoretical proposals on the development of temporality.
Key Words: narrative, language development, Andean, Spanish-speaking children, temporality, evaluation
This chapter focuses on Spanish-speaking children's evaluation and temporality in the construction of personal narratives. The study analyzes 32 personal narratives produced by 8 Andean Spanish-speaking children from the Andean city of Cusco in Peru. All children were monolingual speakers of the Andean Spanish variety and came from lower-middle-class families. Half the children were preschoolers (4;9 to 5;5 years) and the other half were first-graders (6;6 to 7;8 years). Both age groups were balanced in terms of gender. Children were interviewed and tape-recorded by the author using the Conversational Map of Narratives of Real Experiences (McCabe & Rollins, 1994) as the elicitation procedure. Narratives were transcribed using CHAT conventions (MacWhinney, 2000) and were subsequently coded for narrative components (Peterson & McCabe, 1983) and temporal organization (Genette, 1980). Results indicated that contrary to the sequentiality and single-story structure reported as characteristic of U.S. European American English-speaking children, these Andean Spanish-speaking children's narratives present a distinctive feature labeled herein as structural evaluation. Structural evaluation takes two forms, either (1) a functional deviation from the timeline of real events; or (2) a chain of independent stories connected within the boundaries of a single narrative. These young narrators used these strategies to evaluate a specific point in the narrative, consequently affecting both the temporal organization of events and the episodic complexity of the narratives.
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