The oral-literate continuum: young children as storytellers

Suzanne Dawkins

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Abstract

A review of the research literature on writing development suggested that there is a gap in the literature addressing the processes by which children move from spoken texts to written texts. The present study investigated the relationship between oral storytelling skills and written narrative performance and whether transfer from oral storytelling to story writing could be enhanced by pedagogical interventions. The study compared the language forms used in children's oral and written stories, in a mainstream junior primary school setting, following delivery of an oral storytelling intervention, and hypothesised that development of literate style oral narrative language would result in improved written narrative performance at a macrostructural and microstructural level. The findings established a relationship between oral storytelling competence and written narrative achievement, and that literate style language is transferred from storytelling to story writing. Development of linguistic knowledge and competence in the use of literate language was observable in children's oral and written texts. Analysis of data showed that the intervention had a positive effect on children's oral and written narrative performance. Post-intervention stories were on average judged as better stories; they were longer and contained more literate language, in particular, more frequent use of modifiers, especially ENPs and adverbs. Oral and written narratives showed parallel increased use of compound and complex sentences; linguistic devices to create coherent and cohesive narratives; as well as expressive elaboration, over the interval that the study was conducted. This study contributes to knowledge about the oral-literate continuum and the relationship between oral language and writing, as well as to the theoretic framing of the transference of competencies. Furthermore, the study contributes to the literature addressing literacy teaching practices.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Publication statusUnpublished - 2013

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