General Information


In Germany, the success in school depends to a great extent on the skills in understanding und producing erudite language (Hüttis-Graff, Klenz, Merklinger & Speck-Hamdan, 2010). So, before school enrolment, children should come in contact with written language and complex syntax. From the didactic point of view, the question is how the acquisition of grammatical structures - that are important for erudite language - can be supported before school enrolment. In acquiring morphosyntactic structures, the language input is crucial (Tomasello, 2000). The frequency of the structures has to be high enough to allow entrenchment, categorizing and schematizing (Tomasello, 2003). Furthermore, Taraban (2004) demonstrated for example, that syntactic cues can be used by learners to form gender-like noun subclasses when being presented in a grouped fashion, directing the learners’ implicit attention to them.


We hypothesize that children´s books and songs are effective instruments to strengthen morphosyntactic structures as the texts are repeated often within a short period of time (e.g. the song’s chorus) and over longer distances (by singing or reading everyday) (see also Frieg et al. 2014). Therefore, we designed picture books to support children in acquiring grammatical structures that are important for written language (including the gender and case system, passive voice, subjunctives and past tense). The texts are based on research findings on implicit learning within the Usage-Based Theory (Tomasello, 2003) and structured didactic approaches (implicit teaching; Belke & Belke, 2006). In our study, we evaluated these books and specially designed songs (Kauffeldt et al. 2014) with L1- and L2-learners at the age of 41 to 71 months. We compare three groups (1. specific intervention, n = 39, 2. unspecific intervention, n = 36, 3. no intervention at all, n = 41) and expected children participating in the specific intervention to improve their productive and receptive skills with respect to gender and case significantly.


will be reported in our publication:

von Lehmden, F., Müller-Brauers, C. & Belke, E. (in prep.). Training the acquisition of German gender and case with specially designed children´s books and songs.


We aim to create an evaluated instrument for language promotion in kindergarten and schools as well as for speech and language therapy.


Belke, E. & Belke, G. (2006). Das Sprachspiel als Grundlage institutioneller Sprachvermittlung. Ein psycholinguistisch fundiertes Konzept für den Zweitspracherwerb. In: Becker, T. & Peschel, C. (Hrsg.). Gesteuerter und ungesteuerter Grammatikerwerb (174-200). Baltmannsweiler: Schneider Verlag Hohengehren.

Frieg, H., Belke, E., Belke, G., Hoffman, R., Bebout, J., Kauffeldt, L. & Kirschke, C., (2014). Dschungeltanz und Monsterboogie. Lieder zur systematischen Sprachvermittlung im Vor- und Grundschulalter. Baltmannsweiler: Schneider Verlag Hohengehren.

Hüttis-Graff, P., Klenz, S., Merklinger, D. & Speck-Hamdan, S. (2010). Bildungssprache als Bedingung für erfolgreiches Lernen. In: Bartnitzky, Horst; Hecker, Ulrich (Hrsg.): Allen Kindern gerecht werden. Aufgabe und Wege. Beiträge zur Reform der Grundschule (238-265). 129. Frankfurt, Main: Grundschulverband.

Kauffeldt, L., Kirschke, C., Bebout, J., Frieg, H., Belke, E., Hoffmann, R. & Belke, G. (2014). Dschungeltanz und Monsterboogie. Singen und Spielen mit Sprache. Baltmannsweiler, Schneider Verlag Hohengehren.

Taraban, R. (2004). Drawing learners’ attention to syntactic context aids gender- like category induction. Journal of Memory and Language, 51, pp. 202-216.

Tomasello, M. (2000). The item-based nature of children’s early syntactic development. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 4, 156-163.

Tomasello, M. (2003). Constructing a Language. A Usage-Based Theory of Language Acquisition. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.