Emily’s song: a case study of egocentric speech

Document Type


Publication Date



Learning to be a competent language user may be the most complex task human beings undertake, yet the one most taken for granted. This paper examines a song spontaneously created and sung by a 44-month-old child. The song, an element of bath-time play, weaves a chapter in her ongoing self-narrative, disclosing not only her sense of herself as a developing person, but also revealing her struggle with this development. Examination of the relation of the structure and functions of the song demonstrates that it is a variation of egocentric speech clearly connected to her thinking and not merely a tuneful accompaniment to her imaginative play. Early childhood educators and care-givers often witness similar episodes of language use among children engrossed in play in school settings. Observation of the form and content of such language use can provide the early childhood teacher or caregiver with information about a child''s language development, sense of self, and readiness for formal and informal literacy experiences, which presume a developing facility and competence in thinking through language.


A link to full text has been provided for authorized subscribers.

Publication Title

Early Childhood Education Journal

Published Citation

Calderwood, P. E. (1999). Emily’s song: a case study of egocentric speech. Early Childhood Education Journal, 27, (1), 21-27



Peer Reviewed