The Role of Story Telling in the Development of the Child’s Lexical Richness: Case Study

Submitted by: Mounia Benjelloun
Abstract: During the early years of life, children undergo major changes, particularly in their academic language development. Research has demonstrated that children’s early exposure to academic language at home is a key predictor of academic success at school (Cunningham & Stanovish, 1997). Once at school, children are expected to convey their ideas in a more conventional and structurally complex way using a wider range of words in comparison to informal language. One of the main features of academic language is lexical richness, including lexical density and diversity. Not all children are, however, equally prepared to produce this language type. A number of factors, such as parental social and educational backgrounds, as well as the use of storytelling at home might explain the differences in the type of language input children are exposed to.

This study is part of a larger research project on Moroccan children’s academic language development. It explores the extent to which lexical density and diversity are present in the production of two mothers and their children, with varying social and educational backgrounds, during storytelling. The study addresses the following research questions:

1. What is the degree of lexical richness present in the mothers’ input and their children’s output during storytelling?
2. How can mothers’ social and educational backgrounds influence the children’s lexical richness?

The study adopts a qualitative approach. The data analysis has revealed that the use of lexical features varies considerably among the two mothers and their children. Compared to the low social and educational background mother and her child, the affluent and well-educated mother provides her child with far more varied and denser lexical input, besides the use of interactive reading strategies that have proven to influence the child’s output at home (Benjelloun, M. 2017).

The findings show the strong bond between the children’s early exposure to academic lexical input through storytelling and their immediate academic success.

Key words: Academic language; lexical density; lexical diversity; input; output.
1. Benjelloun, M. The Lexical and Morpho-syntactic Features of Academic Language in Moroccan Children’s Register at Home and at School. Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation. Faculty of Letters & Human Sciences. Mohammed V University in Rabat. Morocco. 2017.
2. Cunningham, A. E., & Stanovich, K.E. (1997). Early reading acquisition and its relation to reading experience and ability ten years later. Developmental Psychology 33, 934-945.