Willenberg, I. (2017). 'Once upon a time in Bearland': Longitudinal development of fictional narratives in South African children. First Language,37(2), 150-167. United Kingdom: SAGE Publications Ltd. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1177/0142723716679798
Children’s narrative skills have been widely studied in North America, but there is a paucity of African research. Within South Africa’s diverse socio-cultural context, this study of mixed-race children explored the development of narrative production and the influence of home background variables. Using the Bear Story picture prompt, this longitudinal study investigated the fictional oral narrative skills of 70 English-speaking children in kindergarten and Grade 3. Four key findings emerged: first, with age, narratives increased in lexical diversity, macrostructure elements and written discourse features. However, there was no increase in evaluation, thus highlighting the complexity and nonlinear nature of narrative development. Second, early book reading experiences in the home were positively associated with Grade 3 narrative macrostructure. Third, there were no associations between narrative abilities and maternal education or mothers speaking a first language other than English, underscoring the importance of parental behaviours above factors such as education and language background. Finally, contrary to expectations, the findings suggest more similarities than differences between these children and their peers in other contexts.
School of Education
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