National Writing Project

My Perspective: A Response to "Syntax at an Early Age"

By: Melanie Sperling
Publication: The Quarterly, Vol. 20, No. 2
Date: Spring 1998

Summary: In responding to the author of "Syntax at an Early Age," Sperling, a professor of language and literacy, calls on research to question some of the author's assumptions about learning to write.



The question she (Natalie) asks is: Can and should syntax be taught, particularly to elementarily school children? Natalie shows us that Alex has learned a lot about sentences and that he gained this knowledge by, at least in part, actively producing sentences at his mother's behest. But Alex's progress stems not merely from the fact that Natalie and Alex study syntax–it is also the context in which this learning takes place. Some of the ways Natalie works with her son are a prescription for effective practice.

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