Adults’ and Children’s Language in Different Situational Contexts in Italian Nursery and Infant Schools Marinella Majorano, Ada Cigala & Paola Corsano The aim of the present study is to analyse, through direct observations, the communicative competence of children’s caregivers and children’s language development in different situational contexts in Italian nursery schools (for children aged between six and 36 months, i.e. cre`ches) and infant schools (for children aged between 38 and 72 months, i.e. kindergartens). Children’s and adults’ language production (i.e. number of utterances, number of words, and mean length of utterances), interactive episodes (i.e. a string of sentences involving at least two interlocutors), and adults’ conversational functions) were considered in three situational contexts in both nursery and infant schools (mealtime, storytime and free play for the former; circle time, direct questions, and free conversation for the latter). One hundred and nineteen preschool children and 21 adults (12 educators for the nurseries and nine teachers for the infant schools) from seven educational settings participated in the study. Data analysis showed differences in children’s language production, adults’ conversational functions, categories of interactive episodes and adults’ communicative competence in the situational contexts considered both in the two facilities taken separately, and between the two facilities. Moreover, there emerged a relationship between children’s language development and adult speech characteristics: in particular, the educators’ and teachers’ tutorial and conversational functions appeared to be related to greater language production in the children within the contexts.
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