A comparison of selected syntactic structures : the oral language of first-grade children and the written language of state adopted reading textbooks

This descriptive study was centered around t-unit analysis of the oral language of 18 first-grade children and representative samples of written language from selected state adopted reading textbooks. The syntactic patterns studied were the structural patterns of t-units, the types of elements which were coordinated, the elements which were replaced with dependent clauses, and the structures used in noun phrases. The procedure was to record the oral language of the children as they retold a story, The Three Bears. Twenty consecutive sentences from each child were analyzed. Twenty sentences from each book from five predesignated pages were analyzed. There were totals of 360 sentences of oral language and 260 sentences of written language. The frequencies of the selected syntactic structures were reported in tables to show relationships between the oral language of the children and the written language of the reading textbooks. This study indicated that children have acquired a wide variety of structural patterns but some of the more complex patterns were not frequently produced by the young children. It was suggested by the mismatch found in the frequencies of subordination, coordination, and infinitive that the usage of syntactic structures in reading textbook may not parallel the language development of children.

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