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The embodiment of discourse within French and Zulu childrens narratives Contribution to the 6th IAIMTE Conference, Exeter, 27-29 march 2007 Jean-Marc Colletta.

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Présentation au sujet: "The embodiment of discourse within French and Zulu childrens narratives Contribution to the 6th IAIMTE Conference, Exeter, 27-29 march 2007 Jean-Marc Colletta."— Transcription de la présentation:

1 The embodiment of discourse within French and Zulu childrens narratives Contribution to the 6th IAIMTE Conference, Exeter, march 2007 Jean-Marc Colletta & Ramona Kunene Lidilem, IUFM & université Stendhal, Grenoble, France

2 Language acquisition is far from achieved when the child enters primary school, and the development of discourse abilities is a major issue in later language acquisition. Why is that ? 1. Discourse is a complex form of language built at the textual level, and the current adult use of language relies on the ability to understand and generate linguistic information organised at this level 2. Discourse displays specific properties of cohesion and coherence which have no equivalent in the course of dialogue built out of the sequencing of short speech turns 3. Discourse is language which relies both on reference displacement, decontextualization and cognitive decentration, and which allows the speaker either to talk about facts that are not experienced in the context of the present social interaction, or to talk about supposed, past or fictionous facts 4. All these features define the written use of langage, so that later speech development is directly related to the acquisition of writing and reading abilities 5. As a consequence, the study of discourse development in oral communication may shed some light on the way children acquire literacy abilities First background of our work : the study of discourse development Halliday & Hasan, 1976 ; Heydrich & al., 1989 ; Golder, 1996 ; Fayol, 1997 ; Adam, 1999 ; Hickmann, 2003

3 The investigation of communication behaviour from a multimodal perspective (verbal language + body movements) has been extensively developed within the past 20 years Today, researchers who deal with language and language development begin to be aware of the relevance and significance of such an investigation A substantial volume of observation concerning adult speakers and social interaction between adults in various languages is now available The multimodal study of child language is not so far advanced, but the available data suggests that the gestural system associated with speech undergoes considerable development after the age of two years The statement that new gestural behaviour (pointing, representational gestures) arises at the same time as new lexical and syntactic abilities in young children is consistent with this hypothesis Thus, the use of gestures, postures and facial expressions directly linked to speech should develop as the child acquires new cognitive and linguistic abilities, like those that are required for narrative production Second background of our work : the study of multimodal language and communication Kendon, 1980, 1990, 2004 ; McNeill, 1992 ; Cosnier & Vaysse, 1997 ; Iverson & Goldin- Meadow, 1998 ; Calbris, 2003

4 1. Do children move when they recount a past or a fictionous event ? Do they integrate linguistic, prosodic and kinesic resources into organised discourse behaviour ? 2. If so, do they use kinesic (and prosodic) resources to frame and structure their narrative, to dramatise and enliven the recounted events, and to comment on them or on the narration, as adult speakers do ? 3. Are there any age related changes in the way children use gesture while narrating ? Do young children stepping out from preschool and finding difficulties in a narrative task use more kinesic resources than older children, or is it the reverse ? 4. Do children of other languages and cultures use the same corporal resources when they too perform narratives ? If age related changes occur for french children, do they occur in the same way for children of other languages and cultures ? Questions at the starting point of the present study

5 French data was collected to answer the developmental questions : 32 event reports freely verbalised by 9 to 11-year-old French children during interviews with an adult in school settings were extracted from a video corpus (Colletta, 2001; 2004). Every report was analysed on four dimensions: -discourse construction, -voice and prosodic features that accompany utterances, -facial expressions and coverbal gestures, -gaze direction Our analysis led us to distinguish between three levels of narrative performance which are well correlated with age. Methodological issues Isizulu data was collected to answer the interlanguage question: 12 narratives elicited after South-african Zulu speaking children aged from 6 to 13 years were shown a short cartoon and asked to recount of what they had seen were filmed in school settings. Every narrative was analysed on the same dimensions as for the french event reports. To verbalize an event which has been experienced or witnessed and to recount something after having seen a cartoon are two different language tasks. Howether, both tasks require narrative abilities, and the comparison was based not on the narratives themselves, but on the age related variations.

6 The developmental question: observations and results Next slides present : 1. The detailed analysis of two narratives performed by french girls aged 9-10 years, 2. The three levels of narrative performance which were identified after the detailed analysis of the complete data, 3. Histograms showing the effect of age on the multimodal narrative performance of the French children The interlanguage question: observations and results Further slides present : 1. The detailed analysis of a narrative performed by an Isizulu boy aged 13 years, 2. A table showing a similar development of the narrative abilities in French and Zulu children

7 (6)Ama : Et aussi son frère il est mort heu - pasqu'il avait - il avait un casque sur la tête - 'fin c'est - (a) gesture representing earpieces on ears c'est une heu - famille un peu barjot quoi - (peut) dire ça - 'fin si vous lui montrez pas la cassette (b) symbol of madness same gesture (b) indicates the camcorder which is recording her (c) (d) ……… {interr.2s} et ben il avait mis un casque sur la tête et il est mort à cause de - parce qu'il (e) ……… ……… était allé chercher l' pain - et c'était pas un le jour c'était la nuit chais pas pourquoi il était allé - (e) face expresses astonishment and incomprehension (f) …… 'm'a raconté ça pas'que mon père il était présent - et i' voulait traverser il écoutait d' la musique (g) et tout et au moment où i' ferme les yeux pour traverser y a un train qui passe - R hand traces a straight line on the table ……………….. … et il avait deux trous dans la tête - aaahhh (h) R hand points to temple symbol of disgust

8 Translation : and his brother too he's dead um, because he had, he was wearing headphones on his head, but, it's a bit of a loony family you could say, well if you don't show him the videotape […] well he put headphones on his head and he got killed because, um, because he went to fetch the bread, and it wasn't daylight it was very dark, I don't know why he went there, someone told me that because my dad was there, and he wanted to cross and he was listening to music and just when he closed his eyes to cross there was a train going past, and he had two holes in his head, aaahhh (Ama, a 10-year-old French girl, tells of the circumstances surrounding the death of an adolescent from her district) Ama. announces: recounts: explains: comments : recounts: explains: comments : recounts the continuation: comments :

9 (6) Ama : Et aussi son frère il est mort heu - pasqu'il avait - il avait un casque sur la tête - 'fin c'est - (a) gesture representing earpieces on ears c'est une heu - famille un peu barjot quoi - (peut) dire ça - 'fin si vous lui montrez pas la cassette (b) symbol of madness same gesture (b) indicates the camcorder which is recording her (c) (d) ……… {interr.2s} et ben il avait mis un casque sur la tête et il est mort à cause de - parce qu'il (e) ……… ……… était allé chercher l' pain - et c'était pas un le jour c'était la nuit chais pas pourquoi il était allé - (e) face expresses astonishment and incomprehension (f) …… 'm'a raconté ça pas'que mon père il était présent - et i' voulait traverser il écoutait d' la musique (g) et tout et au moment où i' ferme les yeux pour traverser y a un train qui passe - R hand traces a straight line on the table ……………….. … et il avait deux trous dans la tête - aaahhh (h) R hand points to temple symbol of disgust Referential gestures which complement speech Emblem which reinforces speech No phatic look while narrating the events Posture change marks backtracking in event frame Voice & face marks metanarrative comments No phatic look while narrating the events Multimodal final expressive comment

10 (b) < … higher voice ………………………………... …………………… ……………………… …… (4) Ju.ben moi j' l'ai dit à mon - à ma mère - ma mère elle a dit oui:: oui:: dis le surtout pas à papa pas'que (a) facial expression meaning "catastrophe!"») (b) mimics mother's attitudes and voice ……… > ……… sinon - sss e t:: ÷ et moi j' l'ai dit à mon père ÷ et - il a et - j'- j'- j' lu' ai montré (c) symbol indicating "catastrophe! " amused expression (d) < voix + élevée et + forte ……………………………………. ………. ……. ……… …….. …………….. comment on faisait - il a dit - mais c'est pas vrai c'est pas comme ça qu'i' faut faire hè (d) mimics father's voice and attitudes …………………………………………… > ……………………………. ……… - moi j' vais t'apprendre autrement heu j'ai dit ouais ouais jai tout compris j'avais rien compris (d) (continued) (f) - cest ça laisse moi faire tranquille heu (f) amused expression Translation : well, me, I told my mum, my mum said please don't tell daddy otherwise, sss, and I told daddy… and he, and I, I showed him how to do it, he said, but it isn't true, you don't do it like that, well, me I'll show you a different way to do it, I said I'd understood I hadn't understood anything, that's it leave me in peace (Ju., a 9-year-old French girl, who tells what happened when she told her parents how her teacher taught her how to do division sums using a modern method)

11 (b) < … higher voice ………………………………... …………………… ……………………… …… (4) Ju. ben moi j' l'ai dit à mon - à ma mère - ma mère elle a dit oui:: oui:: dis le surtout pas à papa pas'que (a) facial expression meaning "catastrophe!"») (b) mimics mother's attitudes and voice ……… > ……… sinon - sss e t:: ÷ et moi j' l'ai dit à mon père ÷ et - il a et - j'- j'- j' lu' ai montré (symbol indicating "catastrophe!" then amused expression (d) < voix + élevée et + forte ……………………………………. ………. ……. ……… …….. …………….. comment on faisait - il a dit - mais c'est pas vrai c'est pas comme ça qu'i' faut faire hè (d) mimics father's voice and attitudes …………………………………………… > ……………………………. ……… - moi j' vais t'apprendre autrement heu j'ai dit ouais ouais jai tout compris j'avais rien compris (d) (continued) (f) - cest ça laisse moi faire tranquille heu (f) amused expression Emblems adding information to speech Role taking through voice & body movements Voice change marks faster processing of the event frame Multimodal final evaluative comment Ju. recounts: comments: Ju. recounts: facial comment: recounts what follows: facial comment: recounts what follows: comments: WRONG !!!

12 Discourse constructionVoice and prosody Body movementsGaze 1 narrative short, linear and elliptical, hesitant when longer undifferentiated prosodic contours fixed posture and facial expression, no representational gestures avoidance or continuous eye contact 2 level 1 narrative including at least one distinctive feature of a level 3 narrative (recap, parenthetical statement, final comment, etc.) sparsely differentiated prosodic contours sparse changes in posture, facial expression and gestures phatic eye looks 3 detailed narrative with possible recapitulation of initial situation, descriptive, explanatory, evaluative or other parenthetical interruptions, final comment, use of reported speech technique, may include verbalisation of emotions and the use of modalities prosodic contours differentiated as a function of narrative value of utterance (event level, parenthetical digression, comment), voice mimicking individuals involved in reported speech interactive and representational gestures, various facial expressions, dramatisation of narrative through localisation of objects and characters in available space, acting out of roles phatic eye looks + patterns differentia ted as a function of narrative value of the utterance Three levels in narrative behaviour in children aged from 6 to 11 years

13 Development of narrative behaviour as a function of age: French children To summarise our observations on French children : 1.At 6-7 years, the monologue-type narrative still constitutes a cognitively costly task; children give short, hesitant accounts and make little use of prosodic and kinesic resources. 2.Subsequently, childrens event reports become more substantial and they comment on the recounted events, thus starting to adopt the role of narrator. 3. Later, as of 9-11 years, the event reports become more complex and are accompanied by backtracking through the event frame and various types of parenthetical statement and comments. Children commonly use corporal resources to mark the transitions and the various aspects of their narrative. From this age onwards, they recount events by positioning themselves as narrator. What about Isizulu children ?

14 (a) (1) Siy : Ngibone uOggy nomgani wakhe beyodoba - futhi ngase ngabona uOggy (b) imitates the action of fishing localises Oggy and his friend in left front space (c) balayisha izinto - belungiselela ukuyodoba - belayisha enqoleni ye 4x4 - mimics the action of (b) imitates the action points to the left front space where he (c) loading things in car of fishing has localised Oggy and his friend (d) wase uOggy waphindela emuva - waya eboxini lakhe - eyolanda ifishing rod yakhe - ??? (e) pictures the box (b) imitates the action of fishing (d) wacala wathola isibuko - wasitjinga - wasewatholana nesando - wasitjinga […] mimics the action of (b) then the action of showing a hammer mimics the action of looking in a mirror throwing it away throwing it away Translation: I saw Oggy and his friend they were going fishing, and then I saw Oggy loading things in the car with his friend, they prepared to go fishing, they loaded in the 4 x 4 vehicle, and then Oggy went back to his box to fetch his fishing rod, at first he found a mirror, he threw it out, and then he found a hammer and he threw it out… (Siy., a 13 year old Zulu boy, recounts a French cartoon (Oggy et les cafards) which has just been shown to him twice)

15 (a) (1) Siy : Ngibone uOggy nomgani wakhe beyodoba - futhi ngase ngabona uOggy (b) imitates the action of fishing localises Oggy and his friend in left front space (c) balayisha izinto - belungiselela ukuyodoba - belayisha enqoleni ye 4x4 - mimics the action of (b) imitates the action points to the left front space where he (c) loading things in car of fishing has localised Oggy and his friend (d) wase uOggy waphindela emuva - waya eboxini lakhe - eyolanda ifishing rod yakhe - ??? (e) pictures the box (b) imitates the action of fishing (d) wacala wathola isibuko - wasitjinga - wasewatholana nesando - wasitjinga […] mimics the action of (b) then the action of showing a hammer mimics the action of looking in a mirror throwing it away throwing it away Representational looks Representational gestures based on the mimesis of actions Representational gestures based on the mimesis of objects Representational gestures based on the localisation of referents

16 Development of narrative behaviour as a function of age: Zulu children Main statements : - Younger Zulu children at grade 1 have some difficulty in performing an unassisted narrative: many restarts, short narratives lacking in the description of the initial stage and background events, no metanarrative level, little dramatisation. - A change appears in Zulu children at grade 3, who seem to have less difficulty in retrieving the event from memory, and who perform their narrative in a more autonomous way. - At 11 to 13 years of age, there is another level of narration that is fast approaching the adult stage : the Zulu chilren perform their narrative in an autonomous way with no prompts from the interviewer ; the narratives are full level 3 ones, with a detailed account of the story, a foreground and a background, contextualisation, and imagery ; the children abundantly use referential gestures to add relevant information and to allow the interlocutor to visualise and participate in the event report. AgeSchool levelNumber of phrasesNumber of restartsNumber of gestures 6Grade Grade Grade Grade Grade Grade Grade ½Grade ½Grade

17 Discussion 1. At 6-7 years, the monologue-type narrative still constitutes a cognitively costly task ; French and Zulu children give short, hesitant accounts and make little use of prosodic and kinesic resources. 2. Later, as of 9-11 years for French children, years for Zulu children, the narratives become more complex and are accompanied by backtracking through the event frame and various types of parenthetical statement and comments. French and Zulu children commonly use corporal resources to mark the transitions and the various aspects of their narrative. From this age onwards, they recount events by positioning themselves as narrator. 3. French children perform complex narratives well before Zulu children when they recount an experienced event, which makes it an easier discourse task than to narrate from an unknown cartoon. 4. Older Zulu children use a lot more representational gestures than older French children: effect of the task or effect of culture ? Further investigation is needed. 5. For all children, narrative development seems to go along with gesture development, as in the case of expository discourse development (Colletta & Pellenq, 2005)… Further investigations are on course within an international project funded by French A.N.R.

18 Implications for language teaching The multimodal study of oral narratives performed by children of various age and culture shows that the emergent litteracy abilities may be traced in the multimodal speech behaviour of young children. Thus, eliciting speech organised at the discourse level is a major issue for nursery and primary school : let the children narrate and expose their points of vue in the classroom… is to let them experience complex uses of language they need to master in learning how to write. A remaining question is that of the specific semiotic properties of oral and written texts: how does the child involved in a writing task learn to switch from multimodal communication to exclusive verbal communication ? Next step is to tackle the last question by comparing narrative performances in multimodal speech and writing at various ages. A related issue is to investigate preschool language learning sessions based on the elicitation of spoken discourse, and primary school language learning sessions which link oral practices and writing tasks… A full time job !!!


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