Language complexity during read-alouds and kindergartners' vocabulary and symbolic understanding

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We explored links between complexity of teacher-child verbal interaction and child language and literacy outcomes in fifteen whole-class read-aloud sessions in Chilean kindergarten classrooms serving children from low socioeconomic backgrounds. We coded teacher and child turns for function (initiation, response, and follow-up), type (e.g., open vs. closed questions), and complexity (literal vs. inferential initiations/responses; evaluative vs. elaborative follow-ups). Almost half of the teacher-child talk was inferential, and elaborative follow-ups occurred only occasionally. Repeated patterns of verbal interaction were detected, typically with a teacher initiation/child response/teacher follow-up format; these could be either consistently literal, consistently inferential, or mixed (containing a shift up/down in complexity). The proportion of inferential teacher-child talk and the occurrence of mixed patterns was positively related to child vocabulary and symbolic understanding. Results highlight the relevance of inferential talk during read-alouds, and of the adjustment of language complexity to the child's level of understanding. (c) 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Originele taal-2English
Pagina's (van-tot)39-51
Aantal pagina's13
TijdschriftJournal of Applied Developmental Psychology
StatusPublished - 2016

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