The Effects of Dialogic Reading on Narrative Microstructure Competence in Mandarin-Speaking Children

The Effects of Dialogic Reading on Narrative Microstructure Competence in Mandarin-Speaking Children

First Author: Ling Li -- Memorial University of Newfoundland
Additional authors/chairs: 
Antoinette Rachael Doyle
Keywords: Early Literacy, Shared Book Reading, Narrative Skill, storytelling, Language Development
Abstract / Summary: 

This research is part of a larger study on the effects of Dialogic Reading (DR) on children's literacy development. The research reported here investigated the effects of a DR program on the microstructure of Mandarin-speaking children’s narrative competence. Narrative microstructure (NM) refers to the productivity, syntactic complexity, and cohesion of stories produced by children. In this study, NM was measured by the total number of words (TNW), the number of different words (NDW), the NDW-to-TNW ratio (lexical richness, LR), the total number of T-units (TNT), the mean length of utterances in words (MLUw), and the mean length of the five longest utterances (MLU5). Eighty Mandarin-speaking kindergartners (age four to five) and their parents participated in the research and were randomly assigned to a DR group or a customary reading (CR) group. The DR program is 12 weeks in duration (pretest before / posttest after completion); four months after the posttest a delayed post-test was administered. Home literacy environment (HLE) and demographic information were collected at the pretest as control variables. No differences in NM measures were found between the DR and CR group in the post-test. However, the DR group were found to have significantly higher score on TNT than the CR group in the delayed posttest. That is, children in the intervention group tended to produce more utterances than their peers in the control group. Generalized linear model (GLM) analysis showed that HLE factors did not predict children’s NM measures; however, girls significantly outperformed boys on TNW, TNT, MLU5, and the composite score of NM. It was also found that the lexical richness of boys was significantly higher than that of girls, which indicated that a higher proportion of novel words was contained in boys' story production than that of girls. In addition, lexical richness was significantly and negatively correlated with all other NM measures in three tests.