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Turn the page please: situation-specific language acquisition*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 September 2008

Catherine E. Snow
Affiliation:
Harvard Graduate School of Education
Beverly A. Goldfield
Affiliation:
Harvard Graduate School of Education

Abstract

The present paper investigates a strategy for language acquisition adopted by one child, and the usefulness of book-reading in supporting that strategy. Conversations between this child and his mother around picture-book reading were recorded and recurrent discussions of the same picture were analysed. A coding scheme was devised which identified each speaker's contribution to the exchange of information about a particular picture. By examining recurrent picture discussions, it was possible to trace the child's acquisition of the linguistic means for talking about a given picture. It was found that specific lexical items and constructions used to talk about a picture frequently recurred in subsequent discussions, and that the child learned many of these same items and constructions. Furthermore, he was most likely to acquire what he had heard his mother say about a picture if he had repeated it in an earlier discussion. The usefulness of routines for such situation-specific learning and the implications of the situation-specific approach for future investigations of input language are discussed.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1983

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