How To Teach Functional Language
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When we first start teaching English as a Foreign Language, we plan lessons on grammar, vocabulary, reading, writing, listening, and speaking. What is often forgotten are functional language lessons. In fact, you might not even be aware of what functional language is. And if you don’t know what it is, it’s not surprising that you aren’t familiar with how to teach functional language. As you will see in a minute, functional language is an important part of a language and so it’s essential that you are able to plan an effective functional language lesson.
But first, some clarity.
What is functional language?
Functional language is language that we use to perform certain functions, such as giving advice, apologising, agreeing, or ordering food in a restaurant. We use functions such as these every day, no matter where you are and what language you speak. If you are living in an English-speaking country, every day you will need to be able to perform a number of different functions in English. Consequently, our students need functional language to be able to cope in an English-speaking environment.
They will certainly need a very general functional language if they are living in an English-speaking country but may also require a more specific functional language if they are using English to study or work as well. We, as EFL teachers, can help our students to be able to function effectively in English by focussing on and practicing the functional language.
But how do we do this?
Examples of functional English
First of all, you must realise that there are a million and one different functional situations and each situation have a load of different language items that would be completely appropriate to use for that particular situation. If you think of how many different ways you can agree with someone, or compliment someone, or complain about something, then you see our point. So don’t feel like you need to teach every possible phrase that could be used to communicate in a particular instance.
Choose only a few structures that are relevant to your students and their levels. Be sure to choose those structures which are the most commonly used in natural English. (If you’re not sure, just think about what language you would use in that situation. That’s more than likely what the majority of English-speakers would use too.) Limiting the number of structures taught in this way ensures that the language will be remembered rather than forgotten as soon as the lesson is over.
Activities to teach functional language
In order to consolidate these target language structures, use communicative activities to demonstrate and practice these functions. By their very nature, these language structures relate to a certain situation; use this in role-plays or dialogues to help your students place the language in context. In this way, when the situation arises in the real world, the student will be reminded of the EFL classroom and remember the language particular to that context.
Read more: The Importance of Role-plays
When learning how to teach functional language, remember – repetition is key. Repetition is key to learning any aspect of language but because functional language is often formulaic, repetition is an easy way for learners to pick up chunks of language which will be very useful in their English conversations. In essence, functional language items lay the foundations for successful communication in a language and, at a higher level, can help the speaker sound more natural.
The functional language also needn’t be fixed. Though there may be times when the language needs to be an exact phrase, there is still plenty of room for creativity. In this sense, though students are learning a functional language, they are still learning a language which could be useful in many other situations.
A functional English lesson plan
Once you understand functional English, learning how to teach functional language starts with lesson planning. To show you how this would all work in practice, let’s break down a functional language lesson. Functional language usually fits well into the PPP model (Presentation, Practice, and Production), so we’ll use that as an example. Let’s say the function is offering help.
First, the teacher would introduce the lesson and warm up the students by telling a personal anecdote of when they helped someone or when someone helped them. The students could then offer their own stories.
Then the teacher would elicit any phrases known by the students to offer help. If they don’t know any or many, she would offer up a few examples – Can I help you with that? Would you like some help? Do you need any help? These would be written up on the board. This is the presentation stage of the lesson. The teacher would focus on the form, meaning, and pronunciation of the phrases.
In the practice stage, the students would complete a gap-fill exercise or a similar worksheet using the target language. In this lesson, it could be a dialogue. This provides controlled practice of the language.
Finally, in the production stage, the students are given time to put together a role-play which can then be performed for the class. This allows the free practice of the target language. As you can see, this language prepares our students very practically for the real-life situations they will need this language for.
And there you have it!
Essentially, teaching functional language allows our EFL students to communicate in a number of different situations in English, even if their level of English is not particularly high. Learning a functional language can be done by learning language chunks which can then be used again and again when a particular situation arises. So even if your students have difficulty communicating in more complex English, they will be able to make themselves understood and sound more natural in a number of different situations. You will find your students appreciate learning these chunks, too, as they provide an immediate takeaway from the EFL classroom which they have available to use when they need it.
Functional language is an essential part of any language, as with it our students can communicate immediately and effectively. It is vital to know how to teach functional language to your students. Understanding the nature of functional language will help you plan lessons that include activities that will be both interesting and an effective learning tool. Learning the functional language will give your students confidence when they use their language outside the classroom.
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Rights concerning the processing of your personal information
- Right to restrict processing of personal information
- In some situations, you have the right to require us to restrict the processing of your personal information. We may restrict your personal information by temporarily moving the information to another processing system, making the information unavailable to users, or temporarily removing published information from a website. We may also use technical methods to ensure the personal information is not subject to further processing and cannot be changed. When we have restricted processing of personal information, this will be clearly indicated on our systems.
- You can require us to restrict processing in the following circumstances:
- You are concerned that the information we hold about you is inaccurate. You can ask us to restrict the information until we can determine whether the information is accurate or inaccurate.
- We are processing your personal data unlawfully and you do not want us to delete the information but restrict it instead.
- We no longer need the information for the purposes for which we collected it, but they are needed by you for the establishment, exercise or defence of legal claims.
- You have objected to the processing (see below), and we need to decide whether the legitimate grounds we have to process the information override your legitimate interests.
Processing you think is unlawful
- If you tell us that you think we are processing your personal information unlawfully, but you do not want the information to be erased, you have the right to require us to restrict the processing of that information.
- We will ask you for an explanation about why you think the processing is unlawful, and may also ask that you provide evidence to support this view.
Processing of personal information you think is inaccurate
- You can tell us if you think the personal information we are processing about you is factually inaccurate. You can require us to restrict how we use your personal information until we can verify the accuracy of the information. We will ask you for an explanation about why you think the information is inaccurate, and may also ask that you provide some supporting evidence of the alleged inaccuracy.
- If we find that the personal information we are processing about you is inaccurate, we will take appropriate steps to correct the information.
Personal information is no longer needed by ELEARNING FUTURES LTD but needed by you in connection with a legal claim
- In most circumstances, we will securely delete or dispose of personal information when we no longer need it for our legitimate business purposes. Our approach to retention is outlined in our corporate retention schedules.
- However, if the personal information we no longer need would assist you in establishing, exercising or defending a legal claim, you can require us to keep the information for as long as necessary. We may ask you to provide an explanation and any available supporting evidence that a legal claim is ongoing or contemplated.
Right to erasure of personal data (“the right to be forgotten”)
In the following circumstances, you have the right to require that ELEARNING FUTURES LTD securely deletes or destroys your personal information:
- If the personal information we hold about you is no longer necessary for the purposes for which we originally collected it.
- The processing is based on consent – if you have previously given your consent to ELEARNING FUTURES LTD collecting and processing your personal information, and you notify us that you withdraw your consent. Please note: withdrawing your consent does not mean the processing of your personal data which occurred before the withdrawal was unlawful.
- We are processing your personal information for direct marketing purposes, and you want us to stop.
- If you think ELEARNING FUTURES LTD has processed your personal information unlawfully.
If you think any of the above situations apply, we may ask you for an explanation and further information to verify this.
Right to object to processing
You have the right to object to the ELEARNING FUTURES LTD processing your personal data in the following circumstances:
Personal information used for direct marketing
If we are using your personal information to send you direct marketing, you have the right to object at any time. If you exercise this right, we will stop processing your personal information for direct marketing purposes. However, we may keep your information on a “suppression list” to ensure your information is not added to any marketing lists at some point in the future.
Automated decision making and profiling
- ‘Profiling’ is the automated use of personal data held on a computer to analyse or predict things that have a legal effect, or other similarly significant effects, on the individual. Examples would include economic situation, health, personal preferences or interests and location. You have the right not to be subject to a solely automated decision (that is, a decision made electronically, with no human intervention), and this may include profiling (although there is no general right to object to profiling). If you are concerned the ELEARNING FUTURES LTD has made a solely automated decision about you, you can object.
- Please note, ELEARNING FUTURES LTD is allowed to carry out automated decisions with no human intervention where you have given your explicit consent to this processing (although you have the right to withdraw your consent).
- We are also permitted to make automated decisions with no human intervention in the following circumstances:
- The automated decision is necessary to enter into, or perform a contract, or complete a contract involving you and the ELEARNING FUTURES LTD.
- The automated decision is allowed under a law passed at the European Union level, or at the level of the European Union or EEA member state level (i.e., is allowed under national law). The law will provide safeguards to protect your rights and freedoms.
However, you still have a general right to object in both of the above circumstances, providing reasons why you think the processing is having a negative effect on you. If you do object, we will carefully consider your reasons, and decide whether to review the decision-making process in your specific case.
Right to data portability
- If you have provided your information to ELEARNING FUTURES LTD, you have the right to request and receive a copy of that information in a structured, commonly used and machine-readable format.
- You also have the right to ask us to send the information we hold about you to another organisation.
- There are some situations in which the right to data portability does not apply. For further information, please contact us.
Exercising your rights concerning the processing of your personal information
If you wish to exercise any of the above rights concerning the way in which we process your personal information, please contact:
Risk Management Team
ELEARNING FUTURES LTD,
21-22 Old Steine,
Email: [email protected]
Your right to complain to a national data protection regulator (data protection supervisory authority)
- If you think we have processed your personal information unfairly or unlawfully, or we have not complied with your rights under GDPR, you have the right to complain to a national data protection regulator.
- Complaints about how we process your personal information can be considered by the data protection regulator.