African American and Caucasian Preschoolers’ Use of Decontextualized Language Literate Language Features in Oral Narratives Research Article
Research Article  |   July 01, 2004
African American and Caucasian Preschoolers’ Use of Decontextualized Language
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Stephanie M. Curenton
    Society for Research in Child Development, Washington, DC, 8715 First Avenue #310-D, Silver Spring, MD 20910
  • Laura M. Justice
    University of Virginia, Charlottesville
  • Corresponding author: e-mail: smcurenton@rcn.com
Article Information
Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Research Articles
Research Article   |   July 01, 2004
African American and Caucasian Preschoolers’ Use of Decontextualized Language
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, July 2004, Vol. 35, 240-253. doi:10.1044/0161-1461(2004/023)
History: Received April 21, 2003 , Accepted January 15, 2004
 
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, July 2004, Vol. 35, 240-253. doi:10.1044/0161-1461(2004/023)
History: Received April 21, 2003; Accepted January 15, 2004

Purpose: Low-income preschoolers’ use of literate language features in oral narratives across three age groups (3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds) and two ethnic groups (Caucasian and African American) was examined.

Method: Sixty-seven preschoolers generated a story using a wordless picture book. The literate language features examined were simple and complex elaborated noun phrases, adverbs, conjunctions, and mental/linguistic verbs.

Results: Literate language features occurred at measurable rates for 3- to 5-year-old children. Conjunction use was positively associated with the use of complex elaborated noun phrases and adverbs, and the use of complex and simple elaborated noun phrases was inversely related. There were no differences between African American and Caucasian children’s usage rates. Age-related differences were observed in the use of mental/linguistic verbs and conjunctions.

Clinical Implications: The importance of supporting decontextualized language skills during the preschool period is discussed.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
This research was made possible by a University of Virginia Dean’s Fellowship and a National Academy of Sciences Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship, both of which were awarded to the first author. The views expressed in this manuscript are independent of those of the Society for Research on Child Development. We thank Claudia Reyes, Laura Rogers, and Mignon Jones for their assistance with narrative transcription.
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