Oral Narrative Skills in French Adults Who Are Functionally Illiterate: Linguistic Features and Discourse Organization PurposeTo investigate the nature and extent of oral language difficulties encountered by adults who are functionally illiterate.MethodFifty-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 ... Article
Article  |   October 01, 2010
Oral Narrative Skills in French Adults Who Are Functionally Illiterate: Linguistic Features and Discourse Organization
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Elsa Eme
    Université de Poitiers, Poitiers, France
  • Agnès Lacroix
    Université de Rennes 2, Rennes, France
  • Yves Almecija
    Université de Poitiers
  • Contact author: Elsa Eme, Centre de Recherches sur la Cognition et l’Apprentissage, Université de Poitiers, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Maison des Sciences de l’Homme et de la Société, 99 av. du Recteur, Pineau, F-86000 Poitiers, France. E-mail: elsa.eme@mshs.univ-poitiers.fr.
Article Information
Special Populations / Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Normal Language Processing / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Language
Article   |   October 01, 2010
Oral Narrative Skills in French Adults Who Are Functionally Illiterate: Linguistic Features and Discourse Organization
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2010, Vol. 53, 1349-1371. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2010/08-0092)
History: Received May 2, 2008 , Revised March 5, 2009 , Accepted February 21, 2010
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2010, Vol. 53, 1349-1371. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2010/08-0092)
History: Received May 2, 2008; Revised March 5, 2009; Accepted February 21, 2010
Web of Science® Times Cited: 5

PurposeTo investigate the nature and extent of oral language difficulties encountered by adults who are functionally illiterate.

MethodFifty-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.

ResultsAs a group, the participants who were illiterate had great difficulty handling morphosyntactic rules, referential cohension, and the narrative schema. Furthermore, a qualitative analysis highlighted considerable interindividual variability in narrative styles, reflecting different types of difficulties.

ConclusionsIndividuals 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.

Acknowledgments
We would like to express our warmest gratitude to Christine Delliaux and Armelle Vignault for the assistance we received from the Entraide Sociale Poitevine and Mot-à-Mot (Poitou-Charentes region, France) associations, as well as to all the adult learners attending their literacy programs who agreed to take part in our study. Our thanks also go to Elodie Colas, Claudia Gonçalvès, and Aurélie Wittmann for helping to gather and code the data. We sincerely thank Elizabeth Portier for her translation of the French version of this article and Philippe Eme for his correction of the English language in the revised version.
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