Grammar is not often discussed in ELAR standards or in curricular resources today. So we thought we’d give a quick glance into the research on grammar. Specifically, we are curious about the role grammar plays in literacy skills. We have questions such as:
- Does grammar increase spelling skills?
- Does grammar have a positive effect on reading comprehension?
- How does grammar help students who are learning English as a second language?
We’ve looked into the larger topic of Why is Grammar Important? So now we want to review research articles that get a little more specific.
Grammar and L2 Reading Comprehension
Over 1,000 students from elementary age to university participated across 19 studies (Choi & Zhang, 2017). The studies were analyzed to determine any relationship between grammar knowledge and L2 reading comprehension. Students’ native languages ranged from Dutch, Chinese, French, Spanish, and Japanese.
There were mixed findings across the studies.
Some studies showed grammar had a greater effect on reading comprehension than vocabulary. Other studies showed there was no effect of grammar instruction on measures of reading comprehension.
The Effects of Grammar Instruction on Spelling Skills
In this study (Arnbak & Elbro, 2000), 33 students in grades 4-5 with dyslexia receive 36 grammar lessons. The lessons were focused on morphology. The control group received less instruction in grammar than the experimental group. At the end of the study, the experimental group progressed significantly more than the controls in reading comprehension and in spelling of morphologically complex words.
Yunjeong Choi, Dongbo Zhang, 2017. The relative role of vocabulary and grammatical knowledge in L2 reading comprehension: a systematic review of literature https://doi.org/10.1515/iral-2017-0033.
Elisabeth Arnbak & Carsten Elbro, 2000. The Effects of Morphological Awareness Training on the Reading and Spelling Skills of Young Dyslexics, Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 44:3, 229-251, DOI: 10.1080/00313830050154485
Keywords: vocabulary knowledge; grammatical knowledge; reading comprehension; systematic literature review