About The Book

Grammar and Syntax: Developing School-Age Children’s Oral and Written Language Skills provides insight for clinical speech-language pathologists (SLPs) as well as students and faculty in communication sciences and disorders programs. Offering a practicing speech-language pathologist’s perspective on school-age language development, this professional reference book focuses on later language development and the crucial role oral grammar and syntax plays in successful academic performance.

This resource synthesizes the four main components of professional expertise for SLPs: academic and theoretical knowledge, strategies for gathering diagnostic evidence, the ability to seek, understand, and apply evolving scientific evidence, and the application of therapeutic strategies. Designed to encourage creative approaches to curriculum-based speech-language therapy practices, Grammar and Syntax: Developing School-Age Children’s Oral and Written Language Skills provides the foundation SLPs need to help children and adolescents achieve academic success.

Key Features

  • Anticipation guides at the beginning of each chapter stimulate readers to prepare for reading
  • Bolded key terms and a comprehensive glossary improve retention of material
  • Related resources in addition to cited sources provide jumping off points for deeper understanding
  • Tables of language development references to use at-a-glance
  • An evidence-based approach that references many primary and historical sources, including the “big names” in each content area
  • A unique combination of the perspectives of language development and language disorders with literacy development and literacy difficulties
  • A PluralPlus companion website with PowerPoint lecture slides for instructors and study quizzes for students

About The Author

Monica Gordon-Pershey, EdD, CCC-SLP, is a Professor in the Communication Sciences and Disorders Program, School of Health Sciences, at Cleveland State University (CSU), Cleveland, OH. Since joining CSU in 1995, her teaching experience has included a variety of courses in communication sciences and disorders, with a specialization in graduate language disorders courses. Dr. Gordon-Pershey has authored numerous articles, chapters, and presentations on language and literacy and the pre-professional and professional development of speech-language pathologists and teachers.

Table of Contents



Chapter 1. Introduction: Educational Contexts for Improving School-Age Learners’ Grammar and Syntax
Anticipation Guide
A Professional Reference Book

Grammar and Syntax: Professional Skills for Descriptions, Diagnosis, and Interventions
Terminology Used in This Book: “Language Impairment”

Language Deficits Versus Language Differences

Chapters 2 Through 6: The Developmental Trajectory for Grammar and Syntax

Learners Who Will Benefit When Professionals Apply the Content of This Text

Language Arts and Literacy Instruction in the Schools

Populations of Students Who Have Language Needs That May Impede Their Success in Language Arts and Literacy Instructional Contexts

A Closer Look at Diagnostic Designations

Professional Considerations for SLPs

Mainstream Education: An Emphasis on Metalanguage
Educational Systems: The Contexts that Surround School-based Speech-Language Therapy
Collaborative Goals and Service Delivery

Chapter 2. The Development of Grammar and Syntax: Foundations from First Words through the Preschool Years
Anticipation Guide
Language Form

Structural Linguistics and Generative Grammar

Syntactic Competence and Performance

Defining and Describing Morphology

Free Morphemes and Bound Morphemes

Defining and Describing Syntax

Grammatical Categories

Grammatical Person: Pronoun Usage
Grammatical Number
Grammatical Tense
Grammatical Aspect
Grammatical Mood
Grammatical Voice
Grammatical Gender

The Development of Morphology and Syntax

Order of Emergence of Morphological Forms
Order of Emergence of Syntactic Forms

                  Successive Single Word Utterances
Linear Syntactic Relationships
Hierarchical Syntactic Relationships

Defining and Describing Language Content and Its Relationship to Form

Content: A Fund of Information
Content Categories
Verb Phrase Constituents
Question Formation

Measuring Length and Complexity of Utterances

Mean Length of Utterance (MLU)

MLU as Corresponding to Syntactic Forms
Accuracy and Representativeness of MLU


Manifestations of Impairment of Morphology and Syntax in Preschool Children

Syntactic Regularities and Syntactic Variation

Developmental Constructs

Characteristics of Form Difficulties

Morpheme Use
Phrase Construction and Linguistic Productivity
Question Formation

Syntactic and Morphological Development in the Early School Years

 Phrase Elaborations

Noun Phrase Elaboration
Verb Phrase Elaboration

Forming and Combining Clauses

Passive Voice

Later-Developing Morphology
Summary: Later Developmental Expectations

Question Formation
Sentence Formation and Clausal Constructions (Sometimes Appearing as Noun Phrase Elaborations and Verb Phrase Elaborations)
Tense, Aspect, Mood, Voice

Manifestations of Syntactic Impairment in the School-Age Years

Language and Communication

Impairment in Receptive Syntax
Impairment in Syntactic Regularities and Syntactic Variation

African American English Features of Morphology and Syntax

Chapter 3. Cognitive-Linguistic, Psycholinguistic, and Pragmatic Language Factors That Influence the Competent Use of Grammar and Syntax Throughout Childhood and Adolescence
Anticipation Guide
The Magic of Turning 4

Cognitive-Linguistic Competence as Foundational to Grammatical and Syntactic Skills

Cognitive Connectionism
Information Processing and Syntactic Abilities

Psycholinguistic Explanations for Grammatical and Syntactic Abilities
Pragmatic Language Competence as Foundational to Grammatical and Syntactic Skills

The Cognitive Processes Underlying Pragmatic Competence
Pragmatic Language Purposes: Ideational, Interpersonal, and Textual
Communicative Acts and Their Syntactic Properties
Typologies of Message Function and their Syntactic Properties
Pragmatic Cohesion
The Pragmatics of Discourse
Social Pragmatics and Linguistic Pragmatics
Social Validity

Manifestations of Pragmatic Language Impairments

How Language is Impaired: Structural and Functional Deficits

Chapter 4. Grammar and Syntax in School-Age Children and Adolescents: Conceptualizations and Measurements
Anticipation Guide
Describing Conceptualizations About Grammar and Syntax
Measurement of Grammar and Syntax Abilities
Iterventions for Spoken Grammar and Syntax

Describing the Form of Language: The Grammatical and Syntactic Elements of Mature English

Learners’ Ability to Develop Syntactic Language Complexity

Receptive Language Influences on Expressive Syntactic Maturity
Learning and Memory
Social Interactionism, Social Constructivism, and Dynamic
Assessment of Grammar and Syntax
Metalinguistic Awareness of Syntax

Deficits in Grammar and Syntax

          Syntax Delay Versus Syntax Disorder
Syntax Delay
Syntax Disorder
Commonalities Between Syntax Delay and Syntax Disorder

Linguistic Considerations for Measurement of Older Learners’ Syntactic Abilities

Grammatical Elements
Grammatical Elements Computational Analysis: Mean Length of Utterance in Morphemes
Clausal Structures

Clausal Elements Used in Grammatical Transformations of Sentences
How the Use of Clausal Structures Matures

Approaches to Language Sampling and Analysis for School Age Children and Adolescents

Elicitation of a Language Sample
Manual and Computer-Based Computational Analyses of Language Samples

Manual Computational Analysis: Clausal Structures Measured by the Subordination Index
Computer-Based Analyses

Testing to Reveal Grammatical and Syntactic Capabilities and Performance

The Utility of Information from Achievement Testing, Abilities Testing, and Diagnostic Testing
Considerations for Choosing Commercially Available Tests of Grammar and Syntax
Commercially Available Tests of Grammar and Syntax

The Properties of Tests of Grammar and Syntax
Items that Test Receptive and Expressive Syntax
Item Analyses of Tests of Grammar and Syntax
Test Questions that Probe Grammatical and Syntactic Skills: Performance Demands
Test Questions that Probe Grammatical and Syntactic Skills: Metalinguistic Awareness
Clinician-Constructed Probes of Grammatical and Syntactic Skills

Enhancing Metalinguistic Capabilities

Metalinguistic Strategies for School Age and Adolescent Learners

Therapy Should Have SPICE

Chapter 5. Reading Comprehension: Processing Sentence-Level Grammar and Syntax to Understand the Meaning of Text
Anticipation Guide
Language Form and Reading Comprehension

SLPs’ Services to Aid Language Form and Reading Comprehension

Spoken Grammar as Preparation for Reading Comprehension
Research on SLPs’ Interventions Related to Syntax and Literacy

The Cognitive-Linguistic Elements of Reading Comprehension

Language Form is Essential to Learning the Meanings of Words
Prosody and Sentence Reading

The Importance of Reading Comprehension for Older Students

The Comprehension Demands of Informational Text
Reading Difficulties in School Age and Adolescent Learners
Achieving Adult Literacy

         Prose Literacy: Continuous Text
Docement Literacy: Noncontinuous Text
Quantitative Literacy: Numerical Skills

Sentence-Level Grammar and Syntax: Identifying Students’ Needs

Response to Intervention (RTI) and Multi-tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) Frameworks

Sentence-Level Grammar and Syntax: Suggestions for Interventions

Interventions for Grammar and Syntax in the Context of the Multiple Cognitive-Linguistic Skills Needed for Reading

Plan for Activities for Before, During, and After Reading
Linguistic Microstructures and Macrostructures
Prosodic Interventions

Grammar Instruction

Cloze Procedures Designed to Generate Grammatical Elements

Language Objectives for Grammar and Syntax Based on Academic Standards

Chapter 6. Improving Grammar and Syntax in Written Language
Anticipation Guide
School Writing Expectations

The Components of Skilled Writing

Diagnosing Written Language Difficulties

Written Language Difficulties: Structural and Functional Deficits

Syntactic Knowledge and Syntactic Processing

Formal Assessment
Informal Assessment

Sampling and/or Inventorying Written Language Performance
Informally Assessing Grammar and Syntax Using Probes
A Written Language Assessment Tool

Interventions to Develop the Grammatical and Syntactic Components of Skilled Writing

A Model for a Continuum of Interventions
Content, Process, and Product: Three Considerations for Interventions
Grammar and Syntax Instruction and the Teaching of Writing

Grammatical and Syntactic Necessities
Oral Language Usage to Guide Written Language Targets

Written Sentence Skills

Sentence Expansions
Intersentential Syntactic Skills
Revising and Editing

Interventions to Develop Skills in Written Composition

Semantic Content: Language Choices When Writing
Pragmatic Consideration for Composition Skills



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