The aim of the present study was to investigate idiom comprehension in school-age Italian children with different reading comprehension skills. According to our hypothesis, the level of a child´s text comprehension skills should predict his/her ability to understand idiomatic meanings. Idiom comprehension in fact requires children to go beyond a simple word-by-word comprehension strategy and to integrate figurative meaning into contextual information. In a preliminary phase, we used a standardized battery of tests (Cornoldi & Colpo.. 1998) to assess the ability of second graders and fourth graders to comprehend written texts. Three groups were identified at each age level: good, medium, and poor comprehenders. Children were then presented with familiar idiomatic expressions which also have a literal meaning (e.g., break the ice). Idioms were embedded in short stories: in Experiment 1 only the idiomatic interpretation was contextually appropriate, in Experiment 2 a literal reading of the string was also plausible in the context. A multiple-choice task was used in both experiments: children were asked to choose one answer among three corresponding to: (a) the idiomatic meaning; (b) the literal meaning; and (c) an interpretation contextually appropriate but not connected with the idiomatic or literal meaning of the idiom string. The results of both experiments showed that the ability to understand a text indeed predicted children´s understanding of idioms in context. To verify whether possible improvements in children´s comprehension skills might produce an increase in figurative language understanding, Experiment 3 was carried out. A group of poor comprehenders who participated in Experiments 1 and 2 was tested eight months later. The results of Experiment 3 showed that children whose general comprehension skills improved their performance on an idiom comprehension test.
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|Anno di pubblicazione:||2004|
|Titolo:||Reading comprehension and understanding idiomatic expressions: A developmental study|
|Autori:||MC Levorato; B. Nesi; C. Cacciari|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||Articolo su rivista|
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