Global and local connections in Mandarin-speaking children’s narratives
This study examined Mandarin-speaking children’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’ ability to maintain global connections; a complex event and a sequence of events were chosen to assess local connections. The results displayed children’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’ internal responses to enhance thematic coherence. Results were considered in relation to capacities for working memory, theory of mind and integration. Narrators’ differences in communicative competence and cognitive preferences were also discussed.