Oral Narrative Skills in French Adults Who Are Functionally Illiterate: Linguistic Features and Discourse Organization

Eme, Elsa; Lacroix, Agnès; Almecija, Yves
October 2010
Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research;Oct2010, Vol. 53 Issue 5, p1349
Academic Journal
Purpose: To investigate the nature and extent of oral language difficulties encountered by adults who are functionally illiterate. Method: Fifty-two men and women identified as functionally illiterate, together with a group of control individuals of comparable age, sex, and socioprofessional background, produced a narrative intended for an absent recipient based on a sequence of pictures featuring a cast of 3 protagonists. All narratives were transcribed in their entirety and coded in terms of linguistic features and discourse organization. Results: As a group, the participants who were illiterate had great difficulty handling morpho syntactic rules, referential cohension, and the narrative schema. Furthermore, a qualitative analysis highlighted considerable interindividual variability in narrative styles, reflecting different types of difficulties. Conclusions: Individuals who have not succeeded in learning to read also have impaired oral language abilities. This may affect different aspects of communication skills to a greater or lesser extent. These results have implications for teaching written language to adult learners.


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