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  • List responses to this question.
  • The word grammar can be defined in a variety of ways. Compare your responses from the previous slide with the definitions listed on this slide. The following slides will provide detailed explanations for each of the definitions.
  • Students don’t need to be able to label parts of speech, but they do need many opportunities for meaningful writing, and when they have produced a good piece of writing, they are ready to put it in conventional form and enhance the rhetorical effects through careful organization and choice of examples. At that point, a lesson on subject-verb agreement, using examples from student papers, or a lesson on transitional words can be useful. This approach is quite different fromt randitional grammar teaching.
  • Some sentences in English are ambiguous, not because one of the words has two meanings, but because the sentence could be analyzed as having two different structures. Use the example to discuss the fact that the ambiguity is structural, not lexical. The words don’t have double meanings, but the sentence does.
  • Sentences express the same meaning even though the words appear in a different order on the surface
  • This notation means that a sentence (S) consist of a noun phrase (NP), and auxiliary verb (AUX), and a verb phrase (VP). The arrow can be translated as “can be expanded into.” A noun phrase can be expanded into a determiner, a quantifier, an adjective phrase, a noun, and a prepositional phrase. The parts of the NP go in the linear order specified by the formula. The abbreviatins for determiner (DET),quantifier (Q), adjective phrase (ADJP), and prepositional phrase (PP) are placed in parentheses to show that they are optional. Only a few NPs have all of these elements. Every NP has a noun, however, so the N is not put in parentheses. The rule for an NP contains two other phrases, ADJP and PP. Each of these also has an internal structure that can be defined. Adjective phrase can include an intensifier (INT) like very or somewhat. The INT is an optional element. An ADJP can have more than one adjective. Verb phrase must have a verb and can have one or more NPs, one or more PPs, and one or more adverb phrases (ADVP). An adverb phrase can include an intensifier and must include an adverb. Adjective phrase
  • Beginning writers often string together their ideas with and. They present their ideas as being equally important. as writers develop they learn to subordinate one idea to another. They structure their sentences to show that some ideas are subordinate to or dependent on other ideas.
  • This exercise demonstrates that there are different ways to combine sentences.
  • Since the focus is at the word level, little is written about they syntactic cueing system. Books such as Put Reading First include a discussion of the use of context to identify words. The authors refer to context clues as hits about the meining of an unknown word that are provided in the words, phrases, and sentences that surround the word. They go on to say that context clues include definitions, restatements, examples or descriptions. These are all semantic cues not syntactic cues. In discussing comprehension, the authors refer to the text as they discuss literal and inferential questions, metacognitive strategies and use of graphic organizers which does not involve syntactic cues.
  • A reader who has acquired knowledge of each of these verbs can predict other constituents that will occur in the sentence. For example a form of the verb to go such as went is usually followed by a prepositional phrase that indicates location. A verb like put is followed by an object and a locative. Give requires two objects because people give something to someone. Proficient readers have acquired knowledge of the kinds of words that will follow. This is not conscious knowledge. Cloze procedure: students are given a passage from which some words have been deleted and are asked to supply the missing words. Teachers can create passages with different types of deletions to help students focus on different aspects of syntax. Student can work together to figure out what words could go in the blanks. It is important for student to discuss why they chose the words they did. In the follow-up discussion a teacher could point out that the missing words are verbs and then talk with student about the clues that a reader could use to predict a verb in this context. What is important is for students to think about the cues that tell them what kind of word might fit a particular blank. Getting the right word is not important. What is important is developing a strategy to be used later during silent reading.


  • 1. Syntax
  • 2. Focus
    • What are some basic aspects of English syntax?
    • How do insights from syntax apply to teaching reading and teaching a second language?
  • 3. What is Grammar?
  • 4. Four Views of Grammar
    • Grammar as:
      • A description of syntactic structure
      • Prescriptions for how to use structure and words
      • Rhetorically effective use of syntactic structures
      • The functional command of sentence structure that enables us to comprehend and produce language
  • 5. Grammar as a Description of Syntactic Structures
    • Humans are born with a set of mental structures that enable them to use language input to form subconscious rules for how language works
    • Over time, humans develop an internal grammar they can use to understand and produce one or more languages
  • 6. Grammar as Prescriptions for Correct Use
    • A set of prescriptive rules taught in school-if students learn about grammar, they could apply this knowledge to both writing and speaking
    • Research consistently shows that students have trouble learning traditional grammar and applying grammar rules when they write or speak
  • 7. Grammar as Prescriptions for Correct Use
    • National Council of Teachers of English’s report
      • “ In view of the widespread agreement of research studies based upon many types of students and teachers, the conclusion can be stated in strong and unqualified terms: the teaching of formal grammar has a negligible or, because it usually displaces some instruction and practice in actual composition, even a harmful effect on the improvement of writing. “ (pp. 37-38)
  • 8. Grammar as Prescriptions for Correct Use
    • Weaver (1996) list several reasons teachers continue to teach traditional prescriptive grammar, despite research consensus:
      • Not aware of research
      • Do not believe in the research
      • Believe grammar is interesting and teach it simply for that reason
      • Notice that some students who are good readers and writers are also good at grammar, so they assume that this correlation shows cause and effect.
  • 9. Grammar as Prescriptions for Correct Use
      • Required to teach grammar
      • Feel pressure to teach grammar from parents or other community members
      • Feel that although grammar may not help the average student, it still may help some students
  • 10. Grammar as Rhetorically Effective Use of Syntactic Structures
    • Teach grammar in the context of student writing, particularly during the editing stage
    • Helps students produce more effective pieces of writing
  • 11. Grammar as the Functional Command of Syntax
    • A set of subconscious notions that allow humans to comprehend and produce meaningful utterances
    • These internal rules are refined to match the norms of the language community of which the speaker is a part
  • 12. Theory of Syntax
    • An attempt to describe the rules that govern the order of words at the deep-structure level and also to account for how deep-structure syntax is changed to create different surface-structure sentences
  • 13. Theory of Syntax
    • Chomsky’s theory of generative grammar:
      • Sentences have both a surface and a deep structure
        • The chicken was too hot to eat.
  • 14. Theory of Syntax
    • Some sentences look different on the surface but are the same at a deep level
      • The teacher read the book.
      • The book was read by the teacher.
  • 15. Describing the Syntax of English
    • Linear order
      • Sequence of words
    • Morphological word categories
      • Content words (noun, verb, adjectives, adverbs)
      • Function words (determiners, pronouns)
    • Sentence constituents
      • Function of parts of sentences (subject, predicate)
      • Dependency among parts of sentences (subject/verb agreement)
  • 16. Describing the Syntax of English
    • Use these words to discuss the syntax of English
    • Develop teachers creative lessons linguistics
  • 17. Rules of English
    • Used to describe the structure of English sentences at a deep level
    • Linguist hypothesize that sentences are structured because allows them to explain why a series of unambiguous words can have an ambiguous meaning.
  • 18. Question Rule
    • Develop a rule to explain how you change a statement into a question. Keep in mind the description of English syntax.
      • Teachers can develop creative linguistics lessons.
      • Some teachers can develop creative linguistics lessons.
      • Teachers who read this book can develop creative linguistic lessons.
  • 19. Phrase Structure Rules
    • Structure of a simple sentence
        • S NP – AUX – VP
    • Noun phrase
      • NP (DET) – (Q) – (ADJP) – N – (PP)
    • Adjective phrase
    • ADJP (INT) – ADJ
    • Verb phrase
        • VP V – (NP) – (PP) – (ADVP)
  • 20. Complex and Compound Sentences
    • Compound sentences consist of two or more simple sentences joined by a coordinate conjunction.
    • Three common coordinate conjunctions: and (addition of an idea), or (an alternative idea), but (an opposite idea)
    • Coordinate conjunctions show the relationship between two statements that are of equal importance.
  • 21. Complex Sentences
    • Consist of a main clause and one or more subordinate clauses.
    • Main clause referred to as independent clause because it can stand alone as a complete sentence.
    • Subordinate clause referred to as dependent clause because it depends on an independent clause.
  • 22. Sentence Combining
    • Combine these simple sentences into a complex sentence
      • The linguist sits.
      • She sits in a chair.
      • The chair is red.
      • The chair is comfortable.
      • the linguist is content.
    • Compare your answer with your classmates. Discuss which sentence you think is the most effective.
  • 23. Syntax and the Two Views of Reading
    • Word Recognition View
      • Syntax plays a limited role
    • Sociopsycholinguistic View
      • Syntax is a important component
      • One of the three cueing systems
      • Readers use syntactic patterns to predict the morphological categories of upcoming words.
      • Readers make substitutions that maintain the sentence syntax.
  • 24. Lexico-Syntax
    • Link between words and syntactic patterns
      • The linguist went to the lecture.
      • The teacher put her keys on her desk.
      • The student gave the teacher her homework.
    • Cloze procedure
    • The linguist wished to ______ a new language. He wanted to ____about the syntax of sentences in this language. He started to ___a large corpus of language samples. Then he began to ___the language to ___to ___ patterns.