Internship report: A good book? The grammatical properties of shared reading

Over the summer of 2015, I undertook a LuCiD internship working on part of Dr Thea Cameron-Faulkner and Dr Claire Noble’s project ‘A good book? The grammatical properties of shared reading’. This project is looking at whether the language children hear when reading books with a parent is different from that they hear when interacting with parents whilst playing with toys. With more participants needed to take part in the study, my role involved running the study with these twenty parent and child dyads, and analyzing the data.

The parent and child were recorded first interacting in a toy kitchen, and secondly whilst reading two storybooks. I then transcribed and coded all the parent’s language for particular grammatical properties, such as their use of transitive and complex sentences.

This was my first experience learning about how data of this kind is analysed, in terms of transcribing and coding video recordings. At first I found it difficult, particularly in terms of parsing utterances in the most appropriate place and choosing the correct code for an utterance. However I eventually got the hang of it, becoming more skilled and learning more about English grammar as the weeks progressed. This was a really valuable experience and has been particularly useful in my third year, as I’ve had to use the same skills in my final year project.

Running the study was also a really valuable experience. Over the course of the six weeks I learnt the best way to minimize the chances of something going wrong; for example, double checking that the video camera was recording, making sure it was always fully charged, and keeping the door of the toy cupboard closed when the toddlers were meant to be reading a book. Having this level of responsibility was a really good experience. I also enjoyed interacting with the parents and children during the study, learning a lot about the sorts of things two years olds enjoy talking about.

This internship has influenced my decision over my future career. It gave me a real insight into some of the features of an academic career, and from experiencing this and learning all the new skills, pursuing this career is definitely something I would consider in future. I also really enjoyed the work environment, learning that I want to work in a social environment like this after I graduate.


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