Maria Weichselbaum, Marina Camber, Viktoria Templ

Child-directed speech differences in the input of kindergarten teachers: the role of educational situations, gender and language background

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Keywords: Child-Directed Speech; Educational Situations; Gender; Language Background; Teachers’ Input.

The purpose of this paper is to analyze the German input of kindergarten teachers regarding quality and quantity of input, directed to monolingual and bilingual kindergarten children aged between four and five years. This was done by analyzing spontaneous speech interactions between teachers and children. Our results show that the use of speech acts of kindergarten teachers differs remarkably depending on the educational situations in kindergarten. While in book reading situations children are provided with more conversation-eliciting utterances (questions), games with special rules elicit more behavior-regulating utterances (requests) in the teacher’s input. Furthermore, educational situations influence quantitative aspects (MLU, but not lexical diversity) in the input. However, not only the educational situation plays a role in input differentiation, but also individual aspects of the involved child. We therefore investigated the influences of the children’s gender and their language background (L1 German or L1 Turkish /L2 German) on the linguistic input of teachers, when using requests vs. questions and in regard to quantitative aspects. Results show that teachers produced shorter utterances when talking to L2 children, but made no difference regarding gender. Likewise, no significant difference was found between gender or language background in posing requests vs. questions.

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