We used the Japanese Syntactic Examination for Children (Hashimoto et al., 2016) to investigate developmental changes in grammatical ability of school-aged children (64 children, from second to sixth grade), and also evaluated the validity and the reliability of the examination. The syntactic examination consisted of three tasks. All tasks used pictures that included two characters and a sentence. In the case particle completion task, participants were presented with a picture and an incomplete sentence, and were asked to respond with the correct case particle for describing the picture. Similarly, in the voice production task, participants were asked to fill in a blank with the appropriate voice of the verb. In the sentence comprehension task, participants were presented with four pictures and a sentence, and were asked to choose the correct picture corresponding to the sentence. In each task, there were two types of word orders: Japanese canonical word orders (Subject-Object-Verb) and scrambled word order (Object-Subject-Verb). Three types of voices were also included: active voice, passive voice, and causative voice. We found that the ability of using case particle and correctly comprehending the voice of a sentence were acquired in the third grade. The ability to produce a voice appropriate to a given situation was acquired in the fourth grade. The scores of the three tasks in the syntactic examination were positively correlated with each other, suggesting convergent validity. On the other hand, the three tasks did not correlate with vocabulary scores, sarcasm comprehension, or reading speed, suggesting discriminant validity. Content consistency was relatively low in the sentence comprehension task (Cronbach’s alpha coefficient = 0.51), whereas it was high in the other two tasks (> 0.70, respectively). In conclusion, these results indicate that the Japanese Syntactic Examination can evaluate grammatical abilities of school-aged children.
It has been recently reported that reconsolidation of verbal memory occurs after reminding memorized materials in human participants. The present study investigated effects of the learning condition, in which reminding and relearning were instructed four times during two weeks after learning Kanji-writing by memorizing verbal writing cues. Verbal cues were simple short sentences that explained the construction of each Kanji character. Participants were typically developing children (N = 238) and 13 children with learning disorders (LDs). In Condition A, they learned verbal cues for Kanji-writing and received instructions on reminding and relearning. In Condition B, they learned verbal cues for Kanji-writing without any instructions for reminding. In Condition C, they learned Kanji-writing by repetitively writing Kanji characters. Results indicated that the standardized scores for correct writing at the post test conducted after four weeks of learning were significantly higher in Condition A than in Condition B and C. Moreover, survival rate analysis was applied to examine the decrease in correct Kanji-writing due to forgetting, which indicated that the survival rate curves of Condition A were significantly different from those of Condition C in all the participants. The above results suggest that Condition A is an effective procedure for facilitating the retention of Kanji-writing by efficiently inducing reconsolidation of verbal memory for Kanji-writing cues.
The effects of multilayered reading and writing instructions and the influence of learning to write on learning to read were investigated. Instructions on special syllabic notations were provided to first-grade students in regular elementary classes through the multilayered reading and writing instruction model focusing on writing. Writing instructions included the following: (1) watching and writing, (2) listening and writing, and (3) correcting errors and then writing. Two elementary schools, A that applied the above instructional model and B that did not were compared. Results indicated that students in School A had significantly higher reading and writing acquisition than School B. Additionally, the effects of learning to write appeared earlier than learning to read, irrespective of providing special instructions. Formation of phonological consciousness and less misreading were observed during writing while voicing. These results suggest that the effect of learning to write may influence learning to read. Consequently, it is recommended that future research should be designed to determine the causes of this phenomenon.