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Student Misconceptions in Understanding Grammatical Metalanguage

Culture and languages

Debra Myhill visits Språkstrukturseminariet where she will present a longitudinal study of students' understanding of the grammatical meta-language.

9 Dec 2021
15:15 - 17:00
Hybrid: Online via Zoom and at Humanisten, Renströmsgatan 6, room J236
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Department of Swedish

Much of the policy and professional debate about grammar teaching has focused on whether grammar should be taught or not.  Given that grammatical metalanguage is a highly abstract form of learning, it is surprising how little research there is which explores students’ conceptual understanding - how do they make sense of the grammatical terms they are taught, and what misconceptions or problems do they encounter in developing conceptual metalinguistic understanding?  This presentation will explore students’ conceptual metalinguistic understanding/misunderstandings drawing on data from a four year longitudinal study which tracked a cohort of primary children and a cohort of secondary children over three school years.  The focus of the study was on how metalinguistic understanding for writing develops. The study involved both classroom observations and ‘writing conversations’ with students about their metalinguistic understanding of grammatical terms and how they apply to writing.  The analysis reveals some considerable misconceptions, particularly at clause and sentence level, which can be traced to what teachers have taught them.