In preschool years, children show increasing interest and capabilities in the use of language referring to various mental states (e.g. feelings or beliefs) of themselves and others which is defined as mental state language (MSL). The development of Children’s MSL is essential for their psychological cognition and social competence (Milligan, Astington and Dack [5]; Hughes, Ensor and Marks [4]; Taumoepeau [8]. Research suggests that the exposure to MSL in children’s early years facilitates their understanding about people’s “inner individualities” as well as their language skill involving MSL terms (Cutting and Dunn [2]; Harris, Rosnay and Pons [3]. Young children’s use of MSL may predict their academic performance in schools because this type of language enriches children’s learning experiences of conceptions relating to people’s psychological and socioemotional traits, which is relevant to their literature interpretation and writing skills ?Olson and Astington [6]; Ornaghi, Brockmeier and Gavazzi [7]; Barnes and Dickinson [1]). To date, the existing research of MSL is mainly carried out in western cultural background and in home context, focusing on adults’ MSL language input that provides children’s language learning opportunities. The present study differs from the previous research through the investigation on Chinese preschool children’s MSL use in their interactions with peers and educators in preschool context. The aims of this study are a) capture the characteristics of Chinese preschool children’s use of MSL that is rarely reported in the literature; b) reveal the nature of Chinese children’s MSL environment in preschools that is created collaboratively by themselves, their educators, and peers through spontaneous interactions.

Authors: Zhenyu Yang, Fei Han, Jiangbo Bu

Published in: London International Conference on Education (LICE-2021)

  • Date of Conference: 22-24 November 2021
  • DOI: 10.20533/LICE.2021.0034
  • ISBN: 978-1-913572-42-6
  • Conference Location: Virtual (London, UK)