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Scholarly Undergraduate Research Journal at Clark

Faculty Mentor Contact Information

Elena Zaretsky

Abstract

Oral language proficiency is an area of deficit among English Language Learners (ELLs) that is more acute among ELLs from low Social Economic Standings (SES), attending Title I urban schools, than anywhere else. Narrative, as a form of discourse describing a single event, is considered to be an important and valid measure of language proficiency. The present study examined the narrative skills of kindergartners from diverse linguistic backgrounds to establish their levels of language proficiency, as a factor of narrative type. Two types of narratives were examined: 1) Recall, where the narrator requires good memory skills but may also benefit from provided words and the given structure of a story, and 2) Elicited, which allows the narrator to use his/her own words and grammatical structures to create a story. Our results indicate that the Recall paradigm is beneficial for ELLs as it provides them with vocabulary and set narrative structure. However, Elicited narratives showed an advantage in syntactic complexity and perspective taking despite vocabulary deficits.

 

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