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Small group times in the nursery setting : a forum for developing children’s speech, language and communication?

King, Sarah Elizabeth (2013) Small group times in the nursery setting : a forum for developing children’s speech, language and communication? PhD thesis, UNSPECIFIED.

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The importance of research on the unique nature of the communication supporting environment in nurseries has been heightened by growing evidence of the significance of early language skills for later academic and social development. This study focussed on children’s language use during small group times. Opportunities to hear and practise language were examined, to uncover variation in conversational experiences for children with differing language needs. Participants were a nursery key worker and 19, three- to four-year olds in two cohorts. In this mixed-method study, different measures were used to examine the relationship between participation and language level. Quantitative analysis of interaction rates was made from video recordings of small group conversations. This was followed by detailed qualitative examination of talk during episodes of more sustained conversation. Children’s language levels were measured using the CELF Pre-school (2) UK and a narrative assessment. Questionnaires about children’s verbal participation were also completed by practitioners and parents. Differences were revealed in affordance of opportunity for children according to language level. Children’s interaction rates were positively correlated with scores on the CELF Pre-school (2) UK at the start and 18-months later. Topic of conversation, patterns of turn-taking and repair were associated differently with participation for children according to language level. Analysis showed patterns of both formal and informal talk. Combining features from each was found to be associated with episodes of sustained conversation. Questionnaire responses confirmed differences in children’s likelihood of participation in small group conversations. Findings support the role for small group times as a forum for development of speech, language and communication, facilitating opportunities for children differently according to their language needs. This has important implications for practice in supporting children to make the transition from informal to formal talk in the educational setting.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Controlled Keywords: Mixed methods, Observation, Statistical analysis, Early Language Development, Pre-school education, Communicative competence, Classroom talk, Affordance of opportunity, Conversation analysis
Subjects: Departments > Psychology and Human Development
Depositing User: Mr Graeme Naylor
Date Deposited: 12 Feb 2014 14:33
Last Modified: 01 Dec 2015 16:29
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