Young Children's Use of Private Speech

Blackburn, Carolyn (2018) Young Children's Use of Private Speech. In: Seen and Heard: An interdisciplinary exploration of researching children’s engagement participation and voice. Peter Lang, Oxford. (Submitted)

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Private speech (or self-talk) is a phenomenon first identified by Piaget and reinforced by Vygotsky that is thought to form a bridge between young children’s language and thinking and to to help children make meaning from language heard from adult speech. Vygotsky argued that the use of private speech is beneficial in helping children to self-regulate their emotions, keep track of their thoughts and form a bridge between social speech and inner speech.
Private speech can be categorised according to whether it is overt or covert and related to a task in hand or irrelevant to the task the child is engaged in. Children progress from overt speech to covert speech as they mature. There is therefore a developmental role in children’s use of private speech which is contingent on both their observation of adult speech and practice of linguistic skills through guided participation with adults. This highlights the importance for early childhood professionals in understanding and valuing the role of private speech in children’s learning and development.

This chapter will discuss findings from a study that explored young children’s speech, language and communication acquisition in mainstream and specialist early childhood settings and the different social and physical resources that promoted it. This chapter will focus on findings from interviews with early childhood professionals and time-sequenced observations in eleven early childhood settings in one local authority in England. The study shows that children engage in private speech during unstructured child-led activities and children with English as an Additional Language and children with neurodevelopment conditions such as Autism engage in episodes of private speech more frequently than other children. In mainstream early childhood settings, there are more opportunities for children to engage in episodes of private speech as there are fewer instances of structured adult-led activities than in specialist settings.

Item Type: Book Section
Uncontrolled Keywords: Speech, language and communication; early years; families; special educational needs; policy
Subjects: C800 Psychology
X900 Others in Education
Divisions: Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences > Centre for Study of Practice and Culture in Education (C-SPACE) > Re-thinking Childhood
UoA Collections > REF2021 UoA23: Education
Depositing User: Carolyn Blackburn
Date Deposited: 07 Jun 2018 08:08
Last Modified: 07 Jun 2018 08:14

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