Teachers’ Use of Mental State Talk: Narration of Wordless Picture Storybooks with Preschoolers

  • Hafsa Khalil Toor National institute of Psychology, Quaid-i- Azam University, Islamabad
  • Rubina Hanif
Keywords: Mental state talk, story narration, preschoolers, preschool teacher, Pakistan, teacher-child interaction.


Purpose. Rich language experiences during early school years have been linked with
preschoolers' multiple development outcomes. The present study explores preschool teachers’ use
of mental state talk during wordless picture storybook narration. Additionally, it investigates how
teachers’ years of experience and educational qualification influence the use and variation in
mental state talk.
Method. In total, 67 preschool teachers participated in story narration sessions with a group of
4-5 preschoolers, using indigenous wordless picture storybooks. Transcriptions from the
audio-recorded storytelling sessions were coded into three mutually exclusive categories of
cognition, emotion, and desire of mental state talk.
Results. The findings indicated that preschool teachers vary in frequency with which they use
mental state talk. Moreover, the results showed that teachers used more cognitive mental state
terms than emotional or desire terms. It revealed that teachers with higher educational
qualifications and better teaching experience use more mental state talk as compared to lesser
educational qualifications and teaching experiences.
Conclusion. Teachers need to be aware and conscious about the use of words and mental state
terms while interacting with the pre-schooler and their contribution to child-related outcomes. It
provides direction for policymakers to induct teachers with proper qualifications and experience
to interact with the pre-schoolers. The present research is unique in its utilization of indigenous
picture storybooks by preschool teachers and it adds to the dearth of work on teachers’ mental state


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