InterSpeech 2021

Parental spoken scaffolding and narrative skills in crowd-sourced storytelling samples of young children
(3 minutes introduction)

Zhengjun Yue (University of Sheffield, UK), Jon Barker (University of Sheffield, UK), Heidi Christensen (University of Sheffield, UK), Cristina McKean (Newcastle University, UK), Elaine Ashton (Newcastle University, UK), Yvonne Wren (North Bristol NHS Trust, UK), Swapnil Gadgil (Therapy Box, UK), Rebecca Bright (Therapy Box, UK)
A novel crowdsourcing project to gather children’s storytelling based language samples using a mobile app was undertaken across the United Kingdom. Parents’ scaffolding of children’s narratives was observed in many of the samples. This study was designed to examine the relationship of scaffolding and young children’s narrative language ability in a story retell context which is analysed at the macro-structural (total macro-structure score), the micro-structural (mean length of utterances in morphemes) and verbal productivity (total number of utterances) levels. Young children with and without scaffolding were statistically compared. The interaction between the level of scaffolding support, the grammar complexity and the narrative structure was explored. A bidirectional relationship was observed between scaffolding and young children’s narrative language ability. Young children with better performance were observed to receive less scaffolding from parents. Scaffolding was shown to support early narrative development of young children and was more able to benefit those with low-level grammatical complexity skills. It is crucial to encourage parental scaffolding to be well-attuned to the child’s narrative ability.