Investigating the Development of Grammar in the Writing of Primary School Children in Singapore

Project Number
OER 47/12 LA

Project Duration
May 2013 - September 2016


The goal of this project is to provide a systematic and comprehensive study of the development of grammar in the writing of primary school children in Singapore over the six years of their primary school years through the compilation of a comprehensively annotated computer learner corpus. The data for this study comes from a collection of 2240 written compositions by 320 school children (two written essays in primary 1, and one for each grade level thereafter). These essays were collected as part of the Ministry of Education's longitudinal Early Literacy Research Study, conducted from 2007 to 2012. The data offers a unique opportunity to systematically study the English language development of Singaporean school children in their primary school years. To facilitate a more systematic and in-depth investigation of the development of linguistic patterns of language use, a corpus linguistic methodology will be adopted which includes the tagging of the texts, both automatically using corpus linguistic software as well as manually, in order to compile a computer learner corpus (Granger, 2004). This electronically-accessible annotated corpus, along with the corpus linguistic tools, will allow the researchers to combine the qualitative analysis with quantitative measures that will aid in developing a more comprehensive picture of the language development patterns of Singaporean primary school English learners. The project will also explore how corpus-based pedagogic tools may be developed in aid of the teaching of grammar and writing. Within the history of corpus linguistics, this will be the first comprehensive corpus of young learners' writing collected over longitudinal period of time, both in Singapore and internationally. Unlike typical studies in the field of Second Language Acquisition that are based on a small number of studies (Hunston, 2002), the generalizations obtained from this project will therefore be from a representative corpus of student writing. It is one of the goals of this project to contribute to the research literature and to inform current theories of language acquisition.

Research Themes
English Language & Mother Tongue Languages

Funding Source

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