Global and local connections in Mandarin-speaking children’s narratives

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This study examined Mandarin-speaking children&#8217;s development in relating narrative events in terms of both global and local connections. Thirty Mandarin-speaking five-year-olds, 30 nine-year-olds and 30 adults participated. The narrative data were elicited using <i>Frog, where are you?</i> The plot-structure and the goal-plan schemes were used to examine participants&#8217; ability to maintain global connections; a complex event and a sequence of events were chosen to assess local connections. The results displayed children&#8217;s significant progress in establishing global connections and in employing goal-plan knowledge. Regarding local connections, children exhibited increasing ability to encode and to integrate essential event components. Findings suggest that five-year-olds had insufficient ability to establish both global and local connections. Nine-year-olds were more advanced in encoding global connections; however, they were inadequate in integrating event components and in chaining a sequence of events at the local level. Adults could properly relate narrative events at both levels and were more likely to encode characters&#8217; internal responses to enhance thematic coherence. Results were considered in relation to capacities for working memory, theory of mind and integration. Narrators&#8217; differences in communicative competence and cognitive preferences were also discussed.


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