Teaching syntax and punctuation in French L1

How the notion of sentence was operationalized in innovative didactic devices


  • Marie Nadeau
  • Claude Quevillon Lacasse
  • Marie-Hélène Giguère
  • Rosianne Arseneau
  • Carole Fisher




French L1 writing, grammar, metalinguistic discussion, punctuation, syntax, teaching device


The notion of sentence may seem clear to many, but in French L1 writing, students at the end of elementary school or at the beginning of secondary school experience some difficulties in punctuation, and their sentences often lack syntactic complexity. These areas of writing production are particularly important for students to gain control over sentence construction. During the first phase of a research project, we developed new teaching devices to address this problem through collaborative work with teachers and teacher consultants, which led to the creation of a sequence for students aged 10 to 14. In this paper, we will first explain why the no-tions of phrase syntaxique (literally ‘syntactic sentence') and phrase graphique (literally ‘graphic sentence') were chosen as key grammar concepts to talk about and justify syntactic and punctu-ation phenomena in French L1 writing. We will then demonstrate how these two notions were introduced to students in the sequence, through a first teaching device, and how they were mobilised to support whole-group metalinguistic discussions within two other teaching devices, which focused on punctuation and syntax.




How to Cite

Nadeau, M., Quevillon Lacasse, C., Giguère, M.-H., Arseneau, R., & Fisher, C. (2020). Teaching syntax and punctuation in French L1: How the notion of sentence was operationalized in innovative didactic devices. L1-Educational Studies in Language and Literature, 20(3), 1–28. https://doi.org/10.17239/L1ESLL-2020.20.03.05