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13 - Beginning to talk with peers: The roles of setting and knowledge

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 January 2012

Lucia French
Affiliation:
University of Rochester
Marylou Boynton
Affiliation:
University of Rochester
Rosemary Hodges
Affiliation:
University of Rochester
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Summary

This chapter focuses on the development of young children's communicative abilities as they manifest themselves through talk, that is, the use of language to receive and send messages. From a communicative perspective, the relationship between language and thought can be conceptualized of as one of medium (language) to content (thought). The preschool years are a period of rapid development in the domain of communication as young children establish and expand their knowledge base and language skills, as well as the social skills that are needed for successful interpersonal interactions. Some excellent reviews of the literature on the development of communication processes are available (Garvey, 1984; Mueller & Cooper, 1986; Shatz, 1983). Here we limit ourselves to a consideration of the literature that bears directly on the question guiding our present research: How do 2- and 3-year-old children learn to communicate verbally with one another?

An extensive literature describes early parent–child interactions and argues that such interactions are crucial for early language development (e.g., Bruner, 1983; Snow, 1977, 1979). However, there is very little in the literature that addresses the question of how the young child moves out of the intimate parent–infant exchanges and learns to talk with peers. The literature on parent–infant conversational exchanges documents the parent's expertise as a conversational partner. How do young children, accustomed to conversing with their parents, move into situations in which they must converse with others, particularly with others who, like themselves, are conversational novices? Even conversationally skilled adults find 2-year-olds (particularly those who are not their own children) to be extremely difficult conversational partners.

Type
Chapter
Information
Perspectives on Language and Thought
Interrelations in Development
, pp. 485 - 510
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 1991

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