Reading and Writing

, Volume 25, Issue 6, pp 1385–1402 | Cite as

Exploring the syntactic skills of struggling adult readers

  • Nicole A. Taylor
  • Daphne Greenberg
  • Jacqueline Laures-Gore
  • Justin C. Wise
Article

Abstract

This study investigated the syntactic ability of 82 struggling adult readers who recognize words between the third and fifth grade levels. Analysis of the adults’ performance on the TOLD-I:3 indicated that they were deficient on the syntactic task. Correlations found the struggling adult readers’ oral language skills, written language skills, and reading comprehension skills to be related. A regression analyses indicated that the adults’ syntactic knowledge did not individually predict reading comprehension, however their other oral language skills did. The findings of this study suggest that the adults performed similar to children who are either learning to read or considered poor readers. This study also contributes to the adult literacy field by providing exploratory information on an area (syntax and struggling adult readers) that is lacking.

Keywords

Syntactic ability Struggling adult readers Oral language 

References

  1. Akhtar, N. (1999). Acquiring basic word order: Evidence for data-driven learning of syntactic structure. Journal of Child Language, 26, 339–356.Google Scholar
  2. Barrett, M. (1999). An introduction to the nature of language and to the central themes and issues in the study of language development. In M. Barrett (Ed.), The development of language (pp. 1–23). University of Surrey, UK: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
  3. Bentin, S., Deutsch, A., & Liberman, I. Y. (1990). Syntactic competence and reading ability in children. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 49, 147–172.Google Scholar
  4. Binder, K., & Borecki, C. (2007). The use of phonological, orthographic, and contextual information during reading: A comparison of adults who are learning to read and skilled adult readers. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 21, 843–858.Google Scholar
  5. Byrne, M. E., Crowe, T. A., Hale, S. T., Meek, E. E., & Epps, D. (1996). Metalinguistic and pragmatic abilities of participants in adult literacy programs. Journal of Communication Disorders, 29, 37–49.Google Scholar
  6. Cain, K. (2007). Syntactic awareness and reading ability: Is there any evidence for a special relationship? Applied Psycholinguistics, 28, 679–694.Google Scholar
  7. Cleland, A. A., & Pickering, M. J. (2006). Do writing and speaking employ the same syntactic representations? Journal of Memory and Language, 54, 185–198.Google Scholar
  8. Cupples, L., & Holmes, V. M. (1992). Evidence for a difference in syntactic knowledge between skilled and less skilled adult readers. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 21, 249–274.Google Scholar
  9. Davidson, R. K., & Strucker, J. (2002). Patterns of word recognition errors among adult basic education native and nonnative speakers of English. Scientific Studies of Reading, 6, 299–316.Google Scholar
  10. Dietrich, J. A., & Brady, S. A. (2001). Phonological representations of adult poor readers: An investigation of specificity and stability. Applied Psycholinguistics, 22, 383–418.Google Scholar
  11. Dunn, L. M., & Dunn, L. M. (1998). Peabody picture vocabulary test (3rd ed.). Circle Pines, MN: American Guidance Service.Google Scholar
  12. Ferreira, F., & Engelhardt, P. E. (2006). Syntax and production. In M. Traxler & A. Gernsbacher (Eds.), Handbook of psycholinguistics (pp. 61–91). Oxford, UK: Elsevier: Inc.Google Scholar
  13. Gillon, G., & Dodd, B. (1995). The effects of training phonological, semantic, and syntactic processing skills in spoken language on reading ability. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 26, 58–68.Google Scholar
  14. Greenberg, D., Ehri, L. C., & Perin, D. (1997). Are word-reading processes the same or different. Journal of Educational Psychology, 89, 262–275.Google Scholar
  15. Greenberg, D., Ehri, L. C., & Perin, D. (2002). Do adult literacy students make the same word-reading and spelling errors as children matched for word-reading age? Scientific Studies of Reading, 6, 221–243.Google Scholar
  16. Greenberg, D., Pae, H., Morris, R., Calhoon, M. B., & Nanda, A. (2009). Measuring adult literacy students’ reading skills using the gray oral reading test. Annals of Dyslexia, 59, 133–149.Google Scholar
  17. Greenberg, D., Wise, J., Morris, R., Fredrick, L., Nanda, A., Pae, H., et al. (2011). A randomized-control study of instructional approaches for struggling adult readers. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 4, 101–117.Google Scholar
  18. Hammill, D. D., & Newcomer, P. L. (1997). Test of language development, intermediate (3rd ed.). Austin, TX: Pro-Ed.Google Scholar
  19. Hartsuiker, R. J., & Westenberg, C. (2000). Word order priming in written and spoken sentence production. Cognition, 75, B27–B39.Google Scholar
  20. Hoff, E. (2009). Language development (4th ed.). California: Wadsworth.Google Scholar
  21. Hoover, W. A., & Gough, P. B. (1990). The simple view of reading. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 2, 127–160.Google Scholar
  22. Kaplan, E., Goodglass, H., & Weintraub, S. (2001). Boston naming test. Baltimore: Lippincott Williams & Williams.Google Scholar
  23. Layton, A., Robinson, J., & Lawson, M. (1998). The relationship between syntactic awareness and reading performance. Journal of Research in Reading, 21, 5–23.Google Scholar
  24. MacArthur, C. A., Greenberg, D., Mellard, D., & Sabatini, J. (2010). Models of reading component skills in low literate adults. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 43, 99–100.Google Scholar
  25. Mokhtari, K., & Thompson, H. B. (2006). How problems of reading fluency and comprehension are related to difficulties in syntactic awareness skills among fifth graders. Reading Research and Instruction, 46, 73–94.Google Scholar
  26. Muter, V., Hulme, C., Snowling, M. J., & Stevenson, J. (2004). Phonemes, rimes, vocabulary, and grammatical skills as foundations of early reading development: Evidence from a longitudinal study. Developmental Psychology, 40, 665–681.Google Scholar
  27. Nanda, A., Greenberg, D., & Morris, R. (2010). Modeling child-based theoretical constructs with struggling adult readers. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 43, 139–153.Google Scholar
  28. Nation, K. (2004). Children’s reading comprehension difficulties. In M. J. Snowling & C. Hulme (Eds.), The Science of Reading: A Handbook (pp. 248–265). Malden, MA: Malden Blackwell.Google Scholar
  29. Nation, K., & Snowling, M. J. (2000). Factors influencing syntactic awareness skills in normal readers and poor comprehenders. Applied Psycholinguistics, 21, 229–241.Google Scholar
  30. National Institute of Child Health, Human Development. (2000). Report of the national reading panel. Teaching children to read: An evidence-based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction (NIH Publication No. 00–4769). Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office.Google Scholar
  31. Nippold, M. A., Hesketh, L. J., Duthie, J. K., & Mansfield, T. C. (2005). Conversational versus expository discourse: A study of syntactic development in children, adolescents, and adults. Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research, 48, 1048–1064.Google Scholar
  32. Nippold, M. A., Mansfield, T. C., & Billow, J. L. (2007). Peer conflict explanations in children, adolescents, and adults: Examining the development of complex syntax. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 16, 179–188.Google Scholar
  33. Sabatini, J. P., Sawaki, Y., Shore, J. R., & Scarborough, H. S. (2010). Relationships among reading skills of adults with low literacy. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 43, 122–138.Google Scholar
  34. Simms, R. B., & Crump, W. D. (1983). Syntactic development in the oral language of learning disabled and normal students at the intermediate and secondary level. Learning Disability Quarterly, 6, 155–161.Google Scholar
  35. The Psychological Corporation. (1997). WAIS-III: Administration and scoring manual. San Antonio, TX: Harcourt Brace.Google Scholar
  36. Tomasello, M., & Brooks, P. J. (1999). Early syntactic development: A construction grammar approach. In M. Barrett (Ed.), The development of language (pp. 161–186). University of Surrey, UK: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
  37. Torgesen, J. K., Wagner, R. K., & Rashotte, C. A. (1994). Longitudinal studies of phonological processing and reading. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 27, 276–286.Google Scholar
  38. Wagner, R. K., Torgesen, J. K., & Rashotte, C. A. (1999). The comprehensive test of phonological Awareness. Austin, TX: Pro-Ed.Google Scholar
  39. Woodcock, R. W., McGrew, K. S., & Mather, N. (2001). Woodcock-Johnson III: Tests of achievement. Itasca, Il: Riverside Publishing.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicole A. Taylor
    • 1
  • Daphne Greenberg
    • 1
  • Jacqueline Laures-Gore
    • 1
  • Justin C. Wise
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Educational Psychology and Special EducationGeorgia State UniversityAtlantaUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyOglethorpe UniversityNE AtlantaUSA

Personalised recommendations