Teaching Language Functions
Language functions define what the person should say or write in communicative situations. The best way to present these functions is in context, in a conversation.
A conversation lesson plan:
1. Start with reading the whole conversation while students listen.
2. Then divide it into mini dialogues; a stimulus and its response.
3. Draw students’ attention to the choice of particular words or expressions to express a meaning and talk about the speaker‘s intention; i.e. presenting the function.
4. Then ask students to generate sentences of their own to practice this function.
* This keeps the learning process simple and gives students tools to build on.
5. Next Students are given a situation or task with individual roles allotted. They extend practice by asking one another or engaging in role-play.
* The focus here is on a certain function and that function is taken as the cue for the grammar taught in the lesson. Such practice provides opportunities for students to practice a range of real-life spoken language in the classroom.
Most typical language functions are:
5- Requesting information
Two basic ways of presenting a language function:
1. Inductively: give the learners different examples of the function and ask students to identify it:
What is the speaker’s intention here?
What language or expressions did he use to express his intention?
2. Deductively: present a situation in which the function is needed and ask students to respond to it. You may ask comprehension questions to check understanding.
Two basic ways of practicing language functions:
It aims at familiarizing students with a range of examples of the functions. Possible activities for receptive practice include:
– Finding a function in a dialogue or text.
– Classifying a list of functional language. ( which would you use to say ……..? )
– Classifying a list of sentences according to their precise meaning.
It may be relatively controlled practice. Possible activities for it include:
– Transformations between different examples of a function
– Question and answer work.
– Situational cues (what would you say in these situations?)
Tips for teaching language functions:
– Create a situation and direct students in a certain activity progressively.
– Learners should conduct the activity to its conclusion
– Make sure that learners understand what they are required to do in an activity.
– Demonstrate the activity with learners.
– Select activities which need comparatively light demands on the learners’ linguistic and creative abilities
– Equip learners with expressions and language forms they need for their activities.