Words and turns : bilingual and monolingual children construct a story
This paper reports on a small-scale investigation into story-telling performance in bilingual and monolingual children. Working with a familiar adult (a teacher), these two groups of children were exposed individually to the same picture-book narrative and asked to “tell the story.” Tellings were recorded and subsequently analysed. Two variables were selected for detailed analysis: the lexical strategies used by each group when confronting unknown items, and the degree of teacher intervention in the tellings when informants encountered difficulties. Findings indicate a division between the two groups on the first measure, with bilingual children employing more linguistic strategies than their peers, whose strategies were in turn more pragmatic. On the second measure, the adult tends to treat each child as an individual learner rather than as a member of a group, in that she does not intervene in different ways with each group, and does not, for example, supply more unknown items to one group than another. There is a strong sense of children and teacher successfully playing an educational game with rules that each side respects.