Linguistic concepts in L1 grammar education: a systematic literature review

Jimmy van Rijt, Peter de Swart, Peter-Arno Coppen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Teaching grammar has always constituted a major part of language education in curricula around the world, although it has also been heavily debated. Most of the debate on grammar teaching focused on the rationales for teaching it, rather than on the linguistic content that should be taught. At the same time, there appears to be a renewed interest in restoring the bond between linguistic theory and grammar education. Previous research has suggested that it would be highly desirable to gain a clearer picture of this content. Which concepts are being discussed in the literature on grammar education, and to what extent are these compatible with modern linguistics, in other words: is the literature on grammar teaching up-to-date? This systematic literature review is the first to dive into these questions. Results indicate: (1) most of the concepts in the literature on grammar teaching are from traditional grammar. To a limited extent, there are also concepts from modern linguistic theory that are being discussed, but mostly implicitly; (2) most concepts are not being motivated because they are meaningful in modern theoretical linguistics, but because they reflect traditional classroom practices and policy. It can consequently be concluded that education on linguistic analysis is not up-to-date, which potentially has severe consequences: implementing insights from modern linguistics is likely to provide students with deeper insights, and teachers with a better equipped pedagogy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)621-648
JournalResearch papers in education
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 3 Sept 2019
Externally publishedYes


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