What is the impact of weaknesses in grammar and syntax on achieving grade-level standards for the academic content areas?
Language arts, with its focus on reading, writing, speaking, and listening, and its emphasis on the narrative and expository genres of language, is apt to be a curricular area that is challenging. Science and social studies, each with an emphasis on expository language, may require intensive amounts of classroom listening and assigned reading. Students are often graded on how well their oral and written responses show comprehension of the material they read. Lesser syntactic capabilities can contribute to reduced comprehension of complex sentences and difficulties manipulating multipart sentences. Comprehension of syntax can be a factor in being able to evaluate information and make inferences. Weaker syntax can interfere with the cognitive abilities needed for information processing. Students may have difficulty remembering, thinking about, and repeating information they have heard during instruction. Some students may have difficulty following spoken directions or keeping a sequence of steps in mind. When syntactic processing is not strong, it can contribute to difficulty in organizing thoughts and remembering a series of points within an informational context. Students may be unable to effectively extract details from the verbal messages they have heard or read. Expressively, students’ language may seem disorganized. They may be unable to speak their thoughts succinctly. Their messages may lack detail, or they may not express concepts effectively.
This Ask the Expert is an excerpt from the course 20Q: Grammar and Syntax for School-Age Learners, presented by Monica Gordon Pershey, EdD, CCC-SLP.