Language functions define what the person should say or write in communicative situations. The best way to present and practice these functions is in context by using real-life conversations.
Typical Language Functions
- Requesting information
How to Teach a Conversation
- Start with reading the whole conversation while students listen.
- Then divide it into mini dialogues; a stimulus and its response.
- Draw students’ attention to the choice of particular words or expressions to express meaning and talk about the speaker‘s intention; i.e. presenting the function.
- Then, ask students to generate sentences of their own to practice this function. This keeps the learning process simple and gives students the tools to build on.
- Next, students are given a situation or a task with individual roles allotted. They extend the practice by asking one another or engaging in role-playing. The focus here is on a certain function and that function is taken as the cue for the grammar structure taught in the lesson. Such practice provides opportunities for students to practice a range of real-life spoken language in the classroom.
Two Basic Ways to Present Language Functions
By giving learners different examples of the function and asking students to identify this function
- What is the speaker’s intention here?
- What language or expressions did he use to express his intention?
By presenting a situation in which the function is needed and asking students to respond to it. You may ask comprehension questions to check understanding.
Two Basic Ways to Practice Language Functions
1. Receptive Practice
It aims at familiarizing students with a range of functions. Possible activities for receptive practice include:
- Finding the function in a dialogue or text.
- Classifying a list of functional language according to functions.
- Classifying a list of sentences according to their precise meaning.
2. Productive Practice
It may be a 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?)
6 Tips to Teach Language Functions Effectively
- 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.
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