Summer 2017



Degree Name


Primary Advisor/Dissertation Chair

Susan L. Manikowski

Secondary Advisor/Reader One

Kelly Underwood

Peer-Reviewer/Reader Two

Joy McClain


The research question addressed in this project was, “Does the communicative approach to teaching language increase 5th grade English Learners’ proficiency in their grammar acquisition of present and past tense verb conjugation?” This study looked at ELs’ challenge in conjugating present to past tense verbs and the subsequent effect on their ability to comprehend age-level literature, to create comprehensible original written works, and to perform well on high stakes testing. Research is reviewed in the areas of communicative language teaching (CLT), fifth grade grammar proficiency, grammar acquisition, and correct verb tense conjugation. Communicative language teaching is hallmarked by the understanding that the primary units of language are not only grammatical and structural, but functional and communicative as well. Because ELs’ writing and grammatical proficiency levels fall well below their native English speaking peers’ literacy levels, understanding the age-appropriate learning tasks which are expected of fifth grade students is important to keep in mind when considering how long it takes for school aged children to develop English proficiency. The role of grammar in the writing curriculum, the effectiveness of processing instruction in grammar acquisition, and the developmental stages in receptive grammar acquisition all play a part in exploring grammar acquisition. Knowledge of the past tense form of verbs is necessary for students in creating various writing assignments such as sharing a meaningful past experience, recollecting a childhood memory, or reflecting on a shared classroom experience. Results demonstrated that teaching grammar in a communicative setting allowed students to participate in meaningful discourse while negotiating content learning and enjoying the learning discovery process. Also, when EL students shared authentic personal experiences, their interest and passion to learn increased. Consequently, their understanding of verb tense conjugation will be a building block which will help them comprehend age-level literature, create comprehensible original written works, and perform well on high stakes testing.

Research Methodology

Action Research, Mixed Methods Action Research


ESL/ ELLs, Literacy, Teachers/ Teaching, Communicative Teaching Setting

Included in

Education Commons