Speech patterns not intended for communication with others; "talking to oneself "
Many young children engage in a rich pattern of speech with imaginary playmates or in imagined set tings. Researchers have found that certain characteristics of creativity—e.g., imagination and problem-solving—are reflected in preschool children's private speech. Studies have revealed that many young children use private speech to provide self-guidance while performing school and play tasks. The results of one study on private speech were presented in 1992 at the meeting of the American Educational Research Association. Twenty children from two kindergarten classrooms (one mixed-age, one same-age) were observed for four weeks, using a time-sampling procedure. Results using statistical analysis indicated private speech use varied in different physical and social situations. For example, children used more self-regulatory private speech when engaged in a specific task, compared to free play. They also used more private speech with what the researchers characterized as "intermediate teacher regulation," compared to very little structure or a great deal of structure. When younger classmates were present, children used more private speech than when they were with their peer group or with older students. Otherwise, the use of private speech did not appear to be influenced by the presence of other children or other adults.
The Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky studied the relationship between thought and language. Vygotsky believed that children's private speech plays an important role in cognitive development. In his view, private speech allows the child (and older person, as well) to consciously direct the thought process.
Researchers have confirmed that private speech may continue through late adolescence. Teenagers often employ private speech utterances to describe activities they are engaging in or observing, and for self-guidance when confronted with a challenging task.
Behrend, Douglas A., et al. "A New Look at Children's Private Speech: The Effects of Age, Task Difficulty, and Parent Presence." International Journal of Behavioral Development 12, September 20, 1989, pp. 305-20.
Berk, Laura E. and Sarah T. Spuhl. "Maternal Interaction, Private Speech, and Task Performance in Preschool Children." Early Childhood Research Quarterly 10, June 1995, pp. 145-69.
Daugherty, Martha, and Jenny Logan. "Private Speech Assessment: A Medium for Studying the Cognitive Processes of Young Creative Children." Early Child Development and Care 115, January 1996, pp. 7-17.
Daugherty, Martha, et al. "Relationships among Private Speech and Creativity Measurements of Young Children." Gifted Child Quarterly 38, Winter 1994, pp. 21-26.
Diaz, Rafael M. and Jean R. Lowe. "The Private Speech of Young Children at Risk: A Test of Three Deficit Hypotheses." Early Childhood Research Quarterly 2, June 1987, pp. 181-194.
Duncan, Robert M. "An Examination of Vygotsky's Theory of Children's Private Speech." April 1991. Paper presented at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Seattle, WA, April 18-20, 1991.
Goudena, Paul P. "The Social Nature of Private Speech of Preschoolers during Problem Solving." International Journal of Behavioral Development 10, June 1987, pp. 187-206.
Kronk, Carol Marie. "Private Speech in Adolescents." Adolescence 29, Winter 1994, pp. 781-804.
Manning, Brenda H., et al. "Young Children's Private Speech as a Precursor to Metacognitive Strategy Use during Task Engagement." Discourse Processes 17, March-April 1994, pp. 191-211.
Manning, Brenda H. and Stephen C. White. Comparisons of Young Children's Private Speech Profiles: Analogical Versus Nonanalogical Reasoners. A portion of this paper was presented at the Conference on Human Development, Richmond, VA, March 1990.
Smolucha, Larry and Francien Smolucha. "A Vygotskian Perspective on Critical Thinking." Proceedings, 29 November 1989. Paper presented at the Conference on Science and Technology for Education in the 1990s: Soviet and American Perspectives. Meadville, PA, April 6-7, 1989.