The acquisition of language knowledge is an essential aspect of the development of reading and writing competencies among elementary and secondary school students.
Teachers devote a great deal of time in the classroom helping students to acquire this knowledge and to mobilize it in writing situations.
But is this transfer effective? How can we ensure that language, and especially grammar, is not treated like a subject in its own right, removed from the context of competency development?
The educational activities proposed by the researchers all involve a writing task and discussion leading to reflection on the part of the students.
A number of researchers have examined this question, providing access to parcellated data, but we felt it would be useful to conduct a knowledge synthesis that would provide teachers with tools to help them optimize their grammar instruction. A total of 110 articles published between 1995 and 2016 on empirical research into the relationship between grammar and reading or writing French as a first or second language at the elementary or secondary level were selected.
We collected data that allowed us to establish guidelines for the implementation of grammatical activities that have benefits for writing. For each type of modern grammar knowledge (text grammar, sentence grammar, spelling), the educational activities that are proposed by the researchers all involve a writing task and discussion leading to reflection on the part of the students.
They also involve the use of metalanguage, and the judicious use of errors to stimulate discussion.
We believe that further research should lead to a better understanding of the process by which students succeed in mobilizing their grammatical knowledge in writing situations. However, decompartmentalized activities aimed at linking grammar and writing (and possibly reading) appear to be the best option currently available for achieving better writing results.
François Vincent, Université du Québec en Outaouais
Deposit of the research report: April 2016