Lightning talk: Constructing fictional worlds. A study with argentinian young children from different social groups.
Evidence indicates that 4- and 5- years old children create fictional worlds when they participate in symbolic play or produce narratives (Engel, 2005; Garvey, 1985; Migdalek, Rosemberg & Arrúe, 2013; Nicolopoulou, 2015; Pellegrini, 1985; Sawyer, 2002). Some of these works have revealed that, in order to play or to tell a story, children use complex linguistic resources, particularly when they interact and shear these events with other children or adults. However there are few studies that analyse the specific linguistic resources through which children construct fictional worlds in these and other activities. The main aim of the present PhD project is to contribute to a better understanding of the ways in which young spanish-speaking children, from different social groups, create fictional worlds in spontaneous situations at home and quasi-experimental situations at pre-school. The analysis, that combines quantitative and qualitative procedures, will focus on the fictional structure of children’s play and narratives as well as in the linguistic resources used to create fiction and share these events with others. For it, two corpus of data of children living in Buenos Aires (Argentina) will be examined: the first one includes audio recordings of natural interactions collected in the households of 51 4-year-old children from low and middle socio-economic status (SES) and the second corpus includes videos of elicited play situations using puppets and toys in which 30 5-year-old children from low SES participated at pre-school. Each corpus will be studied independently, to later establish similarities and differences between the findings from both analyses.
The presented Phd project is part of a broader line of research that, framed in sociocultural psychology and current psycholinguistic models (Nelson, 1996, 2007; Tomasello, 2003) studies the relationships between language, play and teaching in young children of different social groups in Argentina. In order to proceed with the project and make it possible in the current context -covid pandemic-, my project will make use of two corpus of data that were recorded in previous projects of the research group. The first corpus (Rosemberg, Arrúe & Alam, 2012) includes 600 hours of audio recording in the houses of 51 4-year-old children from low and middle socio-economic status, residing in the metropolitan area of Buenos Aires (Argentina). Each child was recorded during 12 hours while he/she was carrying out their daily at-home activities together with his/her family and friends. The second corpus (Alam & Rosemberg, 2016) includes 324 play situations where 30 5-year-old children, from a low SES urban population in Buenos Aires (Argentina), participated. The play situations were videotaped at school, in elicited activities: in three different opportunities -individually, in dyads or triads- children received a set of 4 related toys and puppets and were asked to create a story using these objects and then tell the story to the researcher.
A mixed methodology that combines quantitative and qualitative procedures will be used to analyze both corpus.
Given that in the following weeks I will be starting the analysis of the first corpus, I think that the 68th StuTS conference may be a good opportunity to discuss the methodological procedure of my research. It can also be an opportunity to discuss my initial hypothesis. Based on previous research I expect that children will create fictional worlds in both situations: spontaneous situations at home and elicited situations at preschool (Engel, 2005; Garvey, 1985; Nicolopoulou et al., 2015; Pellegrini, 1984). In the spontaneous situations at home, I expect that children will construct fictional worlds when they participate in symbolic play or produce fictional narrative (Stein & Migdalek, 2017), as well as when they are carrying out other activities of their everyday life, such as cooking, taking a bath or drawing. At the elicited activities at pre-school, I predict that children will start creating fictional worlds at the moment they receive the toys and are asked to imagine a story. In order to create fictional worlds, in both situations, I expect that children will employ decontextualized language; meta-ludic statements; precise vocabulary; different verb tenses, and will use discourse markers, endophoric references and direct and indirect speech, among others to establish the limits of the fictional world (Andresen, 2005; Garvey, 1985; Halliday, 1979; Rubin et al., 1983; Rosemberg, 2008; Rosemberg, Arrúe & Migdalek, 2015; Stein & Migdalek, 2017). I imagine that I will find differences in the linguistic resources that children use to construct fiction whether they do it individually or in interaction with other children or adults, particularly because, in these situations, participants have to negotiate the plot and coherence of the fictional world (Pellegrini & Galda, 1982; Sawyer, 2002). I also predict that the fictional worlds will include elements of children's everyday life and fantastic and unfamiliar elements (Engel, 2005, Garvey & Brent, 1977; Schwartzman, 1978; Westby, 1988). Finally, I predict differences between social groups, because studies have shown that the social and cultural context impacts the linguistic resources children develop (Rogoff, Dahl & Callanan, 2018) .