"And they had a big, big, very long fight:" The development of evaluative language in preschoolers' oral fictional stories told in a peer-group context
This study examined the development of evaluative language in preschoolers' oral fictional narratives using a storytelling/story-acting practice where children told stories to and for their friends. Evaluative language orients the audience to the teller's cognitive and emotional engagement with a story's events and characters, and we hypothesized that this STSA context might yield new information about the early development of this language, prior to elementary school. We analyzed 60 stories: the first and last story told by 10 children in each of three preschool classrooms (3-, 4-, and 5-year-old classes) that used STSA throughout the school year. Stories were coded for evaluative expressions and evidential expressions. Five-year-olds used significantly more evaluative language than did 3-year-olds, and children at all ages used significantly more evaluative language at the end than at the beginning of the year. The number of stories told throughout the year explained unique variance in children's evaluative language growth.