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Storybook-Based Language Observation: Evaluation of Child’s Language Development

Phonetic Knowledge

From the transcriptions, Richard showed that he did not have major problems with producing any sound. Most of the pronunciation errors Richard made were mainly due to excitement. He seemed so carried away with excitement that he mispronounced some words. For instance, he repeatedly left the letter “d” off “and” like on line 4 (1st story) “…he will go on a long journey an he will…” The same was repeated on line 37 “…he will fly high an he will lead them…”, line 50 “…he will ride high an will win a lot of things…”, line 9 (2nd story) “…mother got angry an didn’t give him food…”, line 15 and line 22.

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Another notable mistake was with line 37 (1st story) where he mispronounced “lead” for “leat” “…he will fly high an he will leat them but if he…” Nevertheless, the problem did not appear anywhere else. Similarly in the 1st storyline 58, he missed out on “story” and said “stoly”, “Then the stoly I mean the story is finished”. However, as you can see he was keen to correct the mistake. One thing that I noticed about Richard was that he was a fast speaker and some of his words could easily pass you.

We can conclude that Richard knew about the two books at their fingertips. Even though he seemed not fluent with the second one, the fact that he could quote or remember things happening on other pages was evident enough. For example, in the first story he remembered the voice’s instruction, line 15, “told him to look down the street an choose where to go.” Similarly, in the 2nd storyline 32, he remembered about Max and the wild things, “The wild things did not want him to go an they.” As such, despite forgetting some bits of the stories, the narration was fluent as he could relate to most pictures (Seuss, 1990).

Semantic Knowledge

Richard did not show major difficulties in naming things. His vocabulary was relatively ok as he called most things by their words. However, in the 2nd storyline 13, I noticed he missed out on the word “forest” and defined it as “so many trees”. Nevertheless, in lines 15 and 58, he had made himself familiar with the word. In the first story in line 10, he referred to the journey as “the road”. He did not seem to notice the mistake throughout the story (Sendak, 1988).

Syntactic Knowledge

Throughout the recitation, Richard mostly used complete sentences. The only times he seemed to fumble with the sentences were those instances where he had forgotten the story such as in lines 45 and 46 (1st story) and lines 12 and 31 (2nd story). The boy also showed knowledge of the language as most of his recitations marred the text. He could easily put the pictures in context explaining what he saw.

Morphemic Knowledge

Richard correctly used progressive ending “ing” severally times such as in the 1st storyline 8 “telling”, line 21 “thinking” and in 2nd storyline 27 “singing” and line 33 “crying”. However, he missed out on tenses twice, once in the 1st storyline 59 where he said “the story is finished” and in the 2nd storyline 59 where he said “and the story ended.” Despite the two incidences, he seemed to keep most of his recitation in the correct past tense.

Pragmatic Knowledge

In this section, Richard again showed that he was familiar with pragmatic knowledge. This was evident with the way he correctly held the book. Turning of pages also followed the correct sequence. However, during the narration and when he forgot some things, he could peruse through the next two pages to help him bring the memories back (like in lines 45 and 46 in the 1st story). He could also refer to the previous pages with the same intention. Nevertheless, he showed a good understanding of concepts of front to the back of the book, top to bottom as well as reading from left to right.

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Transcription of Storybook -Based Language Observation

  Child’s Name: Richard Jones Age: 5 Years
Book Title: Oh, the Places You’ll Go Examiner: (Client to insert Name)
Author: Dr. Seuss
line   Speaker What was said
1   Adult Hi Richard, I guess you are ready? Please tell me the story
2   Child Mmmh ok this story is hard to understand, just like poems.
3     You know I don’t know poems very much. In this story the
4     Voices tell Bixby that he will go on a long journey and it will be
5     giving him instructions every place he goes. It tells him that
6     the journey will be hard.
7   Adult Who is telling who?
8   Child Voices in this book telling Bixby. You see here it is
9     telling him today is his big day and he will go to great places.
10     After which Bixby takes the road. you see on this page the voice is telling
11     him he has brains in his head and shoes in his feet
12     So he will decide where to go
13   Adult Enhee continue.
14   Child Mmmmh wait…..on this page….yah I have remembered. It
15     told him to look down the street and choose where to go.
16     Bixby looked and said I don’t want to go here, I want to go there.
17     And the voice tell him to go because he has brains…….I
18     cannot remember well this page.
19   Adult Why? Ok what do you remember? What followed after he
20     told him that?
21   Child Mmmmh, here he is thinking of where to go.
22   Adult Why is he thinking?
23   Child Because the voice told him that he will not find a place for going easily
24     an so he may go out of town.
25   Adult So he didn’t go?
26   Child Mmmmmh I don’t remember well this page. But mmmh yah
27     I have remembered, Bixby just went his way to the open air
28     The voice told him things could happen to him.
29   Adult That is right. Go on, what happened here?
30   Child Mmmmh on this page here, he went while the voice kept on
31     reminding him to go and that he will see great things and that
32     he will join high fliers like him and they will go together to
33     high heights.
34   Adult Ooh so interesting where will the high fliers come from
35     to join Bixby? Enhe go on. What followed?
36   Child Mmh I don’t know but they will just come. See here the voice
37     told him that he would fly high and he will also lead them but if he
38     doesn’t them he will lag and they will pass him
39   Adult Yah and then what’s happened on this picture?
40   Child The gang will pass him and he will remain behind in lurch
41     when the hang ups come and he will not enjoy the journey
42     until he comes out again. And it is not easy to un-slump
43     himself
44   Adult After that? enhe, continue
45   Child Mmmmh……see here he will reach streets will be unmarked
46     …mmmh…..then yah I have remembered. This place will
47     confuse him very much. He will not know what to do. he will
48     be very afraid and he will start racing down wiggled roads
49     towards the waiting place. But he will escape and go to
50     where boom bands are playing where he will ride high an
51     win a lot things and be watched on TV
52   Adult Wow! Enhe go on.
53   Child But he will lose too and be alone, scared and have enemies
54     but the voice tell him he will go on then he gets energy again
55     and begin all over again. Here he is now, powerful and strong.
56     The voice tells him not to mix up his feet and to and be deft
57     an he listened and here he will succeed. See here the voice
58     tells him he will move mountains so today is his day his
59     mountain is waiting. Here the story ends. I mean the story is finished.
60   Adult Wow! Thank you so much Richard.
  Child’s Name: Richard Jones Age: 5 Years
Book Title: Where the wild things are Examiner: (Client to insert Name)
Author: Maurice Sendak
line   Speaker What was said
1   Adult Yah so here we go again, tell me about this story?
2   Child Yah this is my favorite, although I know I have forgotten most parts of it.
3     You know it is complex for you to easily understand
4   Adult Sure? Ok just tell me what you can remember. Just imagine
5     that you were in the story and try to remember what
6     happened.
7   Child Ok. The story is about a guy named Max. So one day Max’s
8     mother called him up. He responded by threatening to eat her.
9     The mother got upset and decided to deny him food. That day Max
10     slept hungry
11   Adult Enhee and then?
12   Child Now I have forgotten that part……mmmh….yah that day so
13     Many trees grew in his room and became so big.
14   Adult Yah that’s right.
15   Child The forest grew bigger an the room was full with fruits. There
16     was also an ocean with a boat that Max could sail in.
17     He sailed to far place where bad wild things were. They
18     roared a terrible roar an showed him their teeth and bad
19     eyes and claws. They wanted to scare him as he was new in
20     that place.
21   Adult Enhe go on
22   Child Max was not afraid. He had good tricks an he made friends
23     with them and tamed them.
24   Adult How did he do that?
25   Child imagine by just looking in their eyes they were terrified
26     and so they made him king of all wild things. They started
27     Singing till Max will stop them and tell them to go to bed without
28     supper. On this page he started feeling lonely by
29     remembering home.
30   Adult That’s right. And what is happening here?
31   Child Mmh he started thinking what to do…yah I have remembered
32     something. The wild things did not allow him to go an he
33     started crying. They were telling Max please don’t go please.
34   Adult Uh huh Max remained with them?
35   Child No….here on this page he sat there with them an they started
36     crying like small babies
37   Adult [Laughing] mmmmh what followed?
38   Child When he sat with them there they thought he had changed his
39     mind and they were getting a little bit happier an others had
40     stopped crying
41   Adult Uh huh
42   Child But again Max remembered home. At this time he was feeling
43     hungry that he wanted something to eat. And then
44     from nowhere he smelt good food.
45   Adult Enhe and then?
46   Child I don’t remember well, rather he stood up and
47     gave up being king of the wild things
48   Adult Try to remember the little you can.
49   Child Mmmmh……the wild things started crying again begging him
50     not to go. They were telling himthat they loved him a lot and
51     they will get him something to eat. Max did not listen to
52     them. He got in his boat and wished them goodbye and went.
53     The wild things got bored. And promised never to beg him
54     Anymore. They were tired right?
55   Adult Yah I can see them jeering him.
56   Child Hahaha in fact they changed their eyes and faced and roared
57     at Max. Max sailed over years, through the
58     weeks and then through the day back to the forest his room
59     and found his supper waiting him, the story ended.
60   Adult Thanks so much again Richard.


Richard’s articulation of consonants such as p, m, n, h, t, w and z was perfect. His ability to differentiate sounds such as ng like in king, th as in this, and gh as in high showed that his enunciation was good enough.

His general utterance was way above the level of a five-year-old. The evidence of the use of rhetorical questions like line 54 (2nd story) explained his knowledge of the language. His mean length of utterance was 8 words which are slightly above his age. There was also the aspect of creative thinking with the way he connected ideas especially in instances where he forgot the pages.

Even though the above sample may not be used to comprehensively gauge his morphological development, the use of pronouns instead of repeating the nouns appeared typical for his age. It also showed that he had great command of the language in spite of the fact that he only recited some portions of the story. This made the fact that he was not verbally relating to the story almost invincible.

The main limitation of this audiotape is that Richard’s understanding of words and ideas may not be comprehensively determined. This is probably because he used relatively simple sentence constructions to explain the pictures. Nevertheless, he was able to get the flow of the stories and made comments on every page.

I think this format of evaluation is effective in its way. Even though it may not screen all difficulties the child has, it can give guidelines on whether the child needs more remedial work. For instance, Richard’s memorization and use of simple sentences show that his language is well developed for his age.


Sendak, M. (1988). Where the wild things are. New York: Harper Collins.

Seuss, D. (1990). Oh, the Places You’ll Go! New York: Random House.

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