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María J. Arche

María J. Arche

NIAS Individual Fellow

Project title

Charting out the linguistic underpinnings of narrative abilities

Project description

What enables us to tell stories and express ourselves? A good ability to narrate stories and explain facts is the clearest manifestation of an adequate language attainment, which is the gateway for academic achievement. For this reason, having trouble to do so is commonly taken as a typical sign of suffering from language troubles, according to linguists, teachers, speech and language therapists and paediatricians. The examination of narrative abilities is at the core of diagnosis and intervention but little is established on the precise markers that determine narrative ability.

With this project María J. Arche aims to establish the pathway of acquisition of the linguistic gears of narrative structure (temporal and information structure), focusing on children with a migrant background, who are characterised by having a late start at the language spoken at school. To improve support for this population, it is key to obtain a good understanding of what underpins “the ability to tell”. The interest of the approach resides in the fact that it rests on specific elements (verbal morphology, syntactic structure, word order) that can serve as tangible indicators to plot narrative ability, giving precise testing grounds to any sorts of assessment materials.