Children's cultural background knowledge and story telling performance
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Number of pages
SourceThe International Journal of Bilingualism, 7, 3, (2003), pp. 283-303
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ BSI OLO
The International Journal of Bilingualism
SubjectAtypical development in communications and cognition
The cultural context in which a child is raised influences her cognitive system and language behavior. In this paper, we explored the influence of cultural back ground knowledge on story telling performance of two groups of children living in the Netherlands: (1) bilingual ethnic minority children from immigrant families of Islamic background(2) monolingual Dutch children. Using a within-subject design, all children retold, continued, and finished three story beginnings: One story dealt with a topic related to the ethnic minority children's cultural background(Ramadan), one story dealt with a topic related to the Dutch children's cultural background(Carnival), and one story dealt with a topic both groups of children were familiar with (playing at the schoolyard). All children spoke in Dutch, which implies that the ethnic minority children performed all tasks in a language other than their family language, whereas the Dutch children performed the same tasks in their native language. It appeared that both quantitative and qualitative characteristics of the stories were influenced by the children's cultural background knowledge. Measurements of story length showed that ethnic minority children's Ramadan stories were longer than their Carnival stories, whereas Dutch children's Carnival stories were longer than their Ramadan stories. Likewise, the ethnic minority children's Ramadan stories containedmore connective ties(as indexed by the number of conjunctions used) than their Carnival stories, whereas the reverse pattern was observed in Dutch children. These findings indicate that cultural familiarity with a topic influences story telling performance in terms of story length and coherence.
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