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"I Like the Name but Not the Soup!": An Ethnographic Study of the Metalinguistic Sentience of Young Gifted Children, Its Reflection of Their Cognitive Ability and its Relationship to Their Literacy Acquisition and Literacy Learning

Description: Metalinguistic sentience refers to the conscious or unconscious apprehension of, sensitivity to, and attention to language as something with form and function that can be manipulated. This includes, but is not restricted to, conscious or unconscious apprehension of, sensitivity to, and attention to the following aspects of language and literacy: pragmatics, syntactics, semantics, phonology, orthography, morphology, figurative, metalanguage, print "carries" meaning, print conventions, book conventions, text conventions, referent/label arbitrariness, purposes of literacy, and abilities. These aspects of language and literacy are part of a morphological model developed by the author for classifying the evidence provided by children of their metalinguistic sentience. The two other faces of the model, displayed as a cube, depict (1) Literacy Acguisition and Literacy Learning and (2) four Prompt States: Self-, Child-, Adult-, Text. This ethnographic study of nine verbally gifted kindergarten and first grade children was conducted with a three-fold purpose: to explore whether young verbally gifted children's metalinguistic sentience coincided with their cognitive ability, to explore whether young verbally gifted children's metalinguistic sentience influenced their literacy acquisition and literacy learning, and to explore whether young verbally gifted children's literacy acquisition and literacy learning enhanced their metalinguistic sentience. The study took place during a full school year, while the author was a participant observer in the informants' classrooms. The evidence from the research indicated that the nine verbally gifted children who served as the informants for the study had a lower threshold for metalinguistic sentience than did their agemates. This lower threshold allowed them to acquire and learn literacy more easily and more efficiently.
Date: August 1988
Creator: McIntosh, Margaret E.
Partner: UNT Libraries