Skills for Early Reading: Syntax (2023)

Reading is the act of processing text in order to derive meaning. To learn to read, children must develop both fluent word reading and language comprehension (Gough & Tunmer,1986). Language comprehension is built upon vocabulary and morphology, knowledge, syntax, and higher-level language skills.

How Syntax Contributes to Reading Development

Syntax refers to the formation of sentences and the associated grammatical rules (Foorman, et al., 2016 ). "Syntax skills help us understand how sentences work—the meanings behind word order, structure, and punctuation. By providing support for developing syntax skills, we can help readers understand increasingly complex texts" (Learner Variability Project).

Syntactic skills are correlated with reading comprehension and language comprehension (Westby, 2012), although the nature of the relationship is still being studied (Oakhill, Cain, & Elbro, 2015). A number of recent studies have shown that syntax and grammar are predictors of later reading comprehension ability (Logan, 2017).

Promoting Syntax Development in the Classroom

Knowledge of how grammatical elements such as pronouns, lexical references, and connectives function in sentences allows young children to follow the ideas in a sentence and understand its meaning (Oakhill, Cain, & Elbro, 2015). Children do not need to know the names of these grammatical terms, but they do need to develop understanding of how sentences work in natural speech and in text. Working with sentences can be part of a class's engagement with complex text. Complex text offers rich language; teachers can facilitate a discussion of short snippets of text to help students parse rich sentences and develop understanding.

Teach Linguistic Structures Such as Pronouns, Lexical References, and Connectives

Teaching these support students to track and follow the meaning within sentences (Oakhill, Cain, & Elbro, 2015).

(Video) Foundational Skills Mini-Course Video: Module 5 - Early Reading

Example: Marcy was very thirsty for a cold drink* so she gulped her iced lemonade* quickly!

  • Pronouns: she, he, his her, their, they, them
  • *Lexical references: when a different word or phrase is used to refer to the original word
  • Connectives: and, also, because, so, then, before, during, after

Teach Word Functions by Asking Students a Series of Questions About a Sentence

Example from Literacy How: Our wet, hairy dog crawled under my bed during the thunderstorm.

  • Ask who or what did it? dog (looking for the namer/noun — the who/what)
  • Ask what did it do? crawled (looking for the action word/verb — the do)
  • Ask 'how many, what kind, which one? wet, hairy (looking for adjectives describing the namer)
  • Ask where, when, how, why? under the bed, during the thunderstorm (looking for adverbs that tell about the action)

Teach Sentence Structure, Sentence Types, and How to Build Sentences

Developing syntax can involve examining how sentences are built, learning to expand sentences, and learning to combine short, choppy sentences into longer, grammatically correct sentences. Studies have shown positive effects of sentence combining on reading comprehension (Scott, 2009).

(Video) Improving reading comprehension - The reading house model

Learn More About Syntax Development


Considerations for Students Learning English

English learners should have equal opportunity to meaningfully participate in all literacy instruction. The WIDA Can Do Descriptors highlight what language learners can do at various stages of language development.

Taking Bilingualism into Account

"It's important that young ESL students recognize word order and sentence structure. As students get older and progress with English, it becomes more difficult to correct syntax problems. In many cases, older students translate their native language directly into English without considering the word order that changes between languages" (Lubin, 2020).

(Video) Literacy How Professional Learning Series: Syntax

Supports for English Learners

References

Foorman, B., Beyler, N., Borradaile, K., Coyne, M., Denton, C. A., Dimino, J., Furgeson, J., Hayes, L., Henke, J., Justice, L., Keating, B., Lewis, W., Sattar, S., Streke, A., Wagner, R., & Wissel, S. (2016). Foundational skills to support reading for understanding in kindergarten through 3rd grade (NCEE 2016-4008). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance (NCEE), Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from the NCEE website: What Works Clearinghouse.

Freeman, D. & Freeman, Y. (2004). Essential linguistics: What you need to know to teach reading, esl, spelling, phonics, grammar. Heinemann: Portsmouth, NH.

Gough, P. B., & Tunmer, W. E. (1986). Decoding, Reading, and Reading Disability. Remedial and Special Education, 7, 6–10.

Krashen, S.D. (1981). Bilingual education and second language acquisition theory. In Schooling and language minority students: A theoretical framework. (p.51–79). California State Department of Education.

(Video) NEYH region curriculum webinar series: early reading

Logan, J. (2017). Pressure points in reading comprehension: A quantile multiple regression analysis. Journal of Educational Psychology, 109(4), 451.

Lubin, M. (2020, March 23). A Simple Guide to Teaching Young ESL Students About Syntax. Retrieved August 24, 2020

Oakhill, J., Cain, K., & Elbro, C. (2015). Understanding and teaching reading comprehension: A handbook. New York: Routledge.

Scott, C.M. (2009). A case for the sentence in reading comprehension. Language, speech, and hearing services in schools, 40 2, 184–91.Westby, C. (2012). Assessing and remediating text comprehension problems. In A.G. Kamhi & H.W. Catts (Eds.), Language and reading disabilities (3rd ed., pp1–23). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

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(Video) Comprehension Skills: How to Analyse a Text using Syntax

Last Updated: August 19, 2022

FAQs

What are syntax skills? ›

Syntax refers to the formation of sentences and the associated grammatical rules (Foorman, et al., 2016 ). "Syntax skills help us understand how sentences work—the meanings behind word order, structure, and punctuation.

How can I improve my syntax skills? ›

Here are three ways to improve the syntax in your writing.
  1. Use the Active Voice. One of the best ways to keep your syntax clear is to write in the active voice. ...
  2. Match Your Numbers. This refers to your use of singular and plural words. ...
  3. Avoid Repetition. In an effort to be clear, we sometimes tiptoe around redundancy.

What are the 5 basic reading skills? ›

There are five aspects to the process of reading: phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, reading comprehension and fluency. These five aspects work together to create the reading experience. As children learn to read they must develop skills in all five of these areas in order to become successful readers.

How can I help my child with syntax? ›

How to Teach Syntax to Kids
  1. Model correct syntax. ...
  2. Use sentence completion exercises to improve syntax. ...
  3. Write words on cards and have the students arrange them to form complete simple sentences. ...
  4. Develop basic skills. ...
  5. Teach how sentences often use a noun-verb-direct object pattern. ...
  6. Perform verb exercises.

What are the 4 types of syntax? ›

Syntax is the set of rules that helps readers and writers make sense of sentences.
...
At the same time, all sentences in English fall into four distinct types:
  • Simple sentences. ...
  • Compound sentences. ...
  • Complex sentences. ...
  • Compound-complex sentences.
10 Sept 2021

What Is syntax with example? ›

Syntax in English sets forth a specific order for grammatical elements like subjects, verbs, direct and indirect objects, etc. For example, if a sentence has a verb, direct object, and subject, the proper order is subject → verb → direct object.

How do children acquire syntax best? ›

Children master the syntax, the sentence structure of their language, through exposure and interaction with caregivers and others but, notably, with no formal tuition.

How do students learn syntax? ›

Students build syntactic awareness through exposure to oral language when they are young and particularly through exposure to written language that they hear through read aloud or independent reading (around grade 3).

How do you solve syntax problems? ›

How to Fix It: If a syntax error appears, check to make sure that the parentheses are matched up correctly. If one end is missing or lined up incorrectly, then type in the correction and check to make sure that the code can be compiled. Keeping the code as organized as possible also helps.

What are the 7 aspects of early reading? ›

The school supports pupils to be expert readers by developing the key skills of clarifying, questioning, explaining, retrieval, summarising and predicting.

What are three 3 important skills developed in reading? ›

Decoding, fluency, and vocabulary skills are key to reading comprehension. Being able to connect ideas within and between sentences helps kids understand the whole text.

Why is syntax important for children? ›

Difficulties with morphology and syntax can impact a child's receptive language abilities, for example: Children may not understand tense e.g. past / present / future. Children may not understand plural forms of words. Children may only understand part of a word.

What is a simple sentence syntax? ›

A simple sentence contains a subject and a verb, and it may also have an object and modifiers. However, it contains only one independent clause.

What Is syntax lesson plan? ›

Syntax​are the rules for organizing words or symbols together into phrases, clauses, sentences or visual representations.

What are the basic rules of syntax? ›

Syntactic Rules

These are: English usually has a Subject-Verb-Object word order, unlike some other languages. A sentence must have a subject and a verb, and it must express a complete thought. Generally, it is best to express separate ideas in different sentences.

What Is syntax short answer? ›

Syntax is the grammar, structure, or order of the elements in a language statement. (Semantics is the meaning of these elements.) Syntax applies to computer languages as well as to natural languages.

What are the methods of syntax? ›

Methods are similar to functions: they're declared with the fn keyword and their name, they can have parameters and a return value, and they contain some code that is run when they're called from somewhere else.

What is a syntax for kids? ›

Syntax is how we order the words in a sentence to produce a certain meaning. Grammar refers to using the correct word forms in sentences. Children with speech and language difficulties often: Use words in the wrong order (their sentences don't make sense or are misleading).

How does syntax impact the reader? ›

A writer's syntax can make a phrase or sentence pleasant to read, or it can make the phrases or sentence jarring and unpleasant. Syntax can also make a writer's words more memorable.

What are the key elements of syntax? ›

Central concerns of syntax include word order, grammatical relations, hierarchical sentence structure (constituency), agreement, the nature of crosslinguistic variation, and the relationship between form and meaning (semantics).

How do you avoid syntax errors? ›

Syntax errors
  1. Make sure you are not using a Python keyword for a variable name.
  2. Check that you have a colon at the end of the header of every compound statement, including for, while, if, and def statements.
  3. Check that indentation is consistent. ...
  4. Make sure that any strings in the code have matching quotation marks.

What is a syntax error in reading? ›

A syntax error is a mistake in using a language that involves organizing words and phrases that don't make sense. In short, syntax tells you how a sentence is worded and structured, which can easily be misconstrued.

What are syntax questions? ›

Much like the words-in-context questions in the Reading portion of the test, syntax questions present you, the test-taker, with options to replace a small portion of a sentence, usually a word or two.

What are the 3 main type of reading strategies? ›

There are three different styles of reading academic texts: skimming, scanning, and in-depth reading. Each is used for a specific purpose.

What are the 4 C's in reading? ›

Chapter 14, The Four C's Throwdown, allows readers to consider the level of communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking in their current practices.

What are effective reading skills? ›

The following are nine components of effective reading instruction.
  • Phonemic awareness, letter knowledge, and concepts of print. ...
  • The alphabetic code: Phonics and decoding. ...
  • Fluent, automatic reading of text. ...
  • Vocabulary. ...
  • Text comprehension. ...
  • Written expression. ...
  • Spelling and handwriting.

What are the early reading skills? ›

Early literacy skills include Vocabulary, Print Motivation, Print Awareness, Narrative Skills, Letter Knowledge, and Phonological Awareness. These important foundational skills are the building blocks for learning to read and write.

What is the first reading skill? ›

Phonics is the process of mapping the sounds in words to written letters. This is one of the earliest reading skills children should develop, because it introduces them to the link between letters and sounds, known as the alphabetic principle.

What are the 6 skills of early literacy? ›

  • Print Motivation.
  • Print Awareness.
  • Letter Knowledge.
  • Vocabulary.
  • Narrative Skills.
  • Phonological Awareness.

What are the 7 strategies of reading skills? ›

The seven strategies of highly skilled readers include activating, summarizing, monitoring and clarifying, visualizing and organizing, searching and selecting, questioning, and inferring.

What is the most important reading skill? ›

Decoding

This is a vital reading skill that acts as a foundation for other skills. It relies upon early language skills learned through the use of phonics. Children use decoding to sound out words that they may have encountered before but not read aloud.

What skill is most important for a student learning to read? ›

Phonological Awareness

Phonological, or phonemic, awareness has been cited as the biggest factor in a child's future reading ability. Phonemic awareness is the ability to recognize and use individual sounds in words. These sounds can be individual letter sounds, blends of consonants or vowels, or a combination.

What is the function of a syntax? ›

Definition: A syntactic function is the grammatical relationship of one constituent to another within a syntactic construction. Kinds: Adjunct.

At what age does syntax begin? ›

Children start to use syntax (at least in a rudimentary form) when they progress beyond the one-word stage, usually at around two years of age.

What is the difference between sentence and syntax? ›

Syntax is the arrangement of words within a sentence structure. A subset of grammar, syntax is a set of rules that describes the word order and structure of a sentence within a natural language. Linguists use syntactic rules to analyze a given language.

How many types of sentences are there in syntax? ›

Types of sentences and their syntax modes include simple sentences, compound sentences, complex sentences, and compound-complex sentences. Compound sentences are two simple sentences joined by a conjunction. Complex sentences have dependent clauses, and compound-complex sentences have both types included.

What are the three elements of syntax? ›

As outlined in Syntactic Structures (1957), it comprised three sections, or components: the phrase-structure component, the transformational component, and the morphophonemic component.

What is the full meaning of syntax? ›

syntax, the arrangement of words in sentences, clauses, and phrases, and the study of the formation of sentences and the relationship of their component parts.

What Is syntax behavior? ›

A syntax of behaviors such as playing the piano or speaking must contain two basically different types of rules, syntagmatic rules for specifying the order of the behavioral components, and paradigmatic rules for specifying the form or simul- taneous configuration of the components.

What is a simple definition of syntax? ›

syntax, the arrangement of words in sentences, clauses, and phrases, and the study of the formation of sentences and the relationship of their component parts.

How do you explain syntax to a child? ›

Syntax is how we order the words in a sentence to produce a certain meaning. Grammar refers to using the correct word forms in sentences. Children with speech and language difficulties often: Use words in the wrong order (their sentences don't make sense or are misleading).

What are syntax rules? ›

Syntax rules are those rules that define or clarify the order in which words or elements are arranged to form larger elements, such as phrases, clauses, or statements. Syntax rules also impose restrictions on individual words or elements.

Does syntax mean grammar? ›

Syntax is a part of grammar, the overarching rules dictating the structure of a language. All syntax rules are grammar rules, but not all grammar rules are syntax rules.

What is the focus of syntax? ›

Syntax is the study of sentence structure, and of how sentence structure interacts with other dimensions of linguistic information, such as phonology, morphology, semantics, and pragmatics.

What is simple sentence in syntax? ›

A simple sentence contains a subject and a verb, and it may also have an object and modifiers. However, it contains only one independent clause.

What Is syntax in a lesson? ›

Syntax​are the rules for organizing words or symbols together into phrases, clauses, sentences or visual representations. One of the main functions of syntax is to organize language in order to convey meaning.

Why is it called syntax? ›

The word 'syntax' is derived from the Greek word 'syntaxis' , meaning 'together' and 'sequence' . The term is used for the way in which words are put together in an orderly system to form phrases or sentences. Basically, syntax is the rule by which signs are combined to make statements.

How does syntax affect the reader? ›

A writer's syntax can make a phrase or sentence pleasant to read, or it can make the phrases or sentence jarring and unpleasant. Syntax can also make a writer's words more memorable.

What are the two components of syntax? ›

2. COMPONENTS OF SYNTAX
  • The principal categories of words (Nouns and Verbs, with the dependent categories of Adjectives and Adverbs). ...
  • Ordering of words, including sub-ordering, that is, the clustering of words within a larger order.
  • Function words (including subwords eg.

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1. Reading Comprehension ~ Syntax
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2. The Syntax Attuned Educator: Supporting Students’ Ability to Comprehend Sentences - Margie B. Gillis
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3. Reading Comprehension Styles and Note Taking Tips + Syntax with Maria
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4. Reading & Spelling For Kids With Dyslexia | Tutorial 1
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6. Early Reading and Decodable Texts
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