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    • #14891
      Nicholas Northall
      Moderator
          @nick-northall

          In this task we’d like you to tell us which coursebook you looked at then share the answers to the questions below:

          1. What functions are taught?
          2. How do the books contextualise them?
          3. How are they practised?
          4. What information about the grammar/exponent (the structure used to express a function) is given to the learner? Is it clear?
          5. Is this material appropriate for the target learners? What about your learners?
        • #59750
          Robert Dailey
          Participant
              @robertd

              In this task we’d like you to tell us which coursebook you looked at then share the answers to the questions below:

              The book I chose is English File Pre-intermediate Student´s book. It was interesting to see that functions/ functional exponents are not mentioned explicitly in the contents section, but when looking through the book I could see that the writers dealt with them by putting them in a section called Practical English. There are six of these: 1. Hotel Problems. 2. Restaurant Problems. 3. The Wrong Shoes ( = shopping problems). 4. At the Pharmacy. 5. Getting Around. 6. Time to Go Home (= using the phone).

              1.     What functions are taught?

              1. Hotel Problems

              ·      Tell someone about a problem.

              ·      Offer to do something.

              ·      Greet a friend who you haven´t seen for a long time.

              ·      2. Restaurant Problems

              ·      Order food in a restaurant.

              ·      Explain when there´s a problem with the food, bill etc.

              ·      Ask what somebody is going to do today.

              ·      3. The Wrong Shoes

              ·      Make suggestions to do something.

              ·      Take something bought back to a shop.

              ·      Arrange a time to meet somebody.

              ·      4. At the Pharmacy

              ·      Describe symptoms when you feel ill.

              ·      Get medicine at a pharmacy.

              ·      Talk about possessions with “have got”.

              ·      5. Getting Around

              ·      Give and understand  directions in the street.

              ·      Give and understand directions for using public transport.

              ·      Apologize.

              ·      6. Time to Go Home

              ·      Phone somebody to say who you are / who you want to talk to.

              ·      Leave a message for somebody.

              ·      Respond to news

              2.     How do the books contextualise them?

              ·      In “Practical English” sections – “additional” to the other units and separate from grammar and vocabulary.

              ·      Then often in dialogues / social situations of some sort about which the learners are in some cases asked questions.

              3.     How are they practised?

              ·      In dialogues, often in conjunction with a listening/ video exercise.

              ·      Learners are asked to repeat the phrases.

              ·      Learners are asked to, for example, practice making suggestions with a partner, so through pair work.

              ·      Role plays.

              ·      Learners are also invited to complete yes/no and gap fill exercises

              4.     What information about the grammar/exponent (the structure used to express a function) is given to the learner? Is it clear?

              ·      Rather than being given explicit information about the grammar/ exponent, the learners are presented with the language in, for example, a dialogue.

              5.     Is this material appropriate for the target learners? What about your learners?

              ·      I think it is yes. The situations chosen (e.g. at the pharmacy) are useful and practical and in my experience students often enjoy doing role plays around these types of situation.

            • #60092
              Manuel Flores Lasarte
              Moderator
                  @manuel

                  Hi Robert,

                  Thanks for getting this forum started. As you say, many coursebooks do not clearly state functional language on the contents page but then when you look at the book carefully, there is usually a section called ‘Practical English’, ‘Real life’ or ‘Developing conversations’ that have a more functional focus to it.

                  The topics that your book covers seem to be appropriate to the level of the learners although of course you can teach the same functions at different levels, but use more challenging functional exponents at higher levels. For example, for the function of ‘suggestions’, we can teach: Let’s + vb as in ‘Let’s go to the cinema!’ (elementary) or a more complex exponent at higher levels such as ‘Would anyone fancy going to the cinema tonight?’. [–> Remember this point about language level when exemplifying functional exponents that a learner may need to use to complete a task in Paper 1, task 3 of the DELTA exam, by the way!]

                  As you indicate from your analysis, contextualisation often happens in dialogues although there could be other formats depending on the lesson. A question here to develop our conversation in the forum: besides dialogues, how else can we contextualise functional language?

                  The way functional exponents are presented and practised in your book is also very common but it would be great to know how other books do this. Let’s see what other people have to say about this.

                  Just a question for you Robert. In the topics and functions that you present there is usually one that I am not sure how it is linked to the topic (e.g. I understand how telling someone about a problem and offering to do something are connected to ‘hotel problems’ but I’m not entirely sure how ‘greeting a friend who you haven’t seen for a long time’ is related to this). How does the book make the connection?

                  Thanks,

                  Manuel

                • #60183
                  Erica
                  Participant
                      @erica

                      Hi Manuel,

                      “A question here to develop our conversation in the forum: besides dialogues, how else can we contextualise functional language?” This is an interesting question especially because the majority of coursebooks contextualise functional language through dialogues – either presented via listening or reading + pictures.

                      I guess we could also contextualise functions by analysing written signs or recorded announcement in public spaces, e.g. Mind the gap. Do not leave your items unattended.

                      • #60476
                        Manuel Flores Lasarte
                        Moderator
                            @manuel

                            Thanks Erica, that’s a very good point. Functions are usually presented in dialogues for speaking but as you mentioned, they can also be presented via announcements or even in the form of a monologue (e.g. if we are teaching the functional exponenents of getting people’s attention, emphasing a point, clarifying, etc. in a presentation).

                            Remember that there can also be functional language in writing (for example the functional exponents used to complain or explain things in an email of complaint).

                            The important thing to remember is that functional language can happen both in writing and in speaking.

                        • #60184
                          Erica
                          Participant
                              @erica

                              Name of coursebook:

                              Face 2 Face Starter, 2nd edition, CUP

                              What functions are taught?
                              -Greetings
                              – introducing people / introducing yourself
                              – classroom language (asking for clarification: What does ‘book’ mean? / I don’t understand. Can you repeat it please?
                              – asking for something, different contexts, in a shop, in a café. How much is this/that? How much are those/these? Can I have …? Do you have …? Anything else?
                              – telling the time + asking for information, e.g. at the tourist information centre/ at the station, What time is …. ?
                              – asking and giving directions
                              -making suggestions, e.g. What shall we do/ buy …? Let’s do/ buy … why don’t we ….. ?
                              – saying goodbye and good luck, e.g. Good luck with … Thanks a lot/ very much. See you in ….. Have a good …..

                              How do the books contextualise them?
                              Mainly through dialogues that are presented as listening activities (either recordings or videos).
                              The context is expressed through the setting, e.g. at the train station, in a shop, etc. or through a scenario, e.g. It’s your friend’s birthday.

                              How are they practised?
                              – complete the dialogues using the words in the box (gap-fill exercises with missing words given).
                              – put the conversation in order
                              – select what “phrases” you can use with new suggested words.
                              – some pronunciation practice exercises
                              – rehearse the given dialogue in pairs.
                              – personalise / create a similar dialogue and then practise it in pairs.

                              What information about the grammar/exponent (the structure used to express a function) is given to the learner? Is it clear?
                              There isn’t any explicit grammatical explanation or “grammar box”. The context and analytical analysis of the dialogues are supposed to help students learn from and use of the TL , notice patterns and/ or work out grammatical rules or collocation. I suppose it depends on the way the teacher teaches it. Functions can be taught inductively but then it’s up to the teacher whether there is the need to make rules explicit or just work on practice (written and oral) and thus let students unconsciously work out rules or implicitly learn them.

                              Is this material appropriate for the target learners? What about your learners?
                              I believe the material is appropriate to adult. My ESOL learners live in the UK and I have notice that some of them can supply additional language to express the function suggested in the unit (units on functions are called Real Word). For example, making suggestions: What about going to the cinema?
                              Generally speaking, even if some of my learners feel that the dialogues are “unnatural’ or “simplified” – which can be true considering the level, these dialogues can be useful to practise pronunciation, work on accuracy and make sure learners speak naturally (e.g. look at the person talking, turn taking, etc.) and use/ understand the language to express a specific function. It goes without saying that these dialogues can also be personalised or extended but we need to ensure that learners understand the function of the language being practised and not get carried away. For example, one of my students wished to make small talk when he was acting as a barista in a café during the role play because he said that at Costa the baristas always talk to him in that way. Unfortunately, he was so eager to chit chat that he completely forgot to include the functional language to conclude the conversation with the customer, e.g. “Anything else? or ask for money “That’s £ …. Cash or card?” and say goodbye.

                            • #60483
                              Manuel Flores Lasarte
                              Moderator
                                  @manuel

                                  Thanks Erica for sharing the functions taught in your coursebook, which are typical of elementary learners. In functional language, context is key, as we have seen in the unit, so it is great to see that there is a clear context to introduce the language (e.g. the train station, at a café, etc.). This can help learners activate schemata and help them work out the meaning of different functional exponents used.

                                  The summary you provide about how functional language is practised in your book can be a very useful reference for when you want to plan your own functional lessons. Lots of useful activities there.

                                  As for the information presented, I think it’s normal that they don’t go into too much detail about grammar (this would confuse learners!) but the teacher can still clarify meaning (e.g. which functional exponents are used for different purposes), pronunciation (here connected speech and intonation would be key!), appropriacy (e.g. levels of formality for different language exponents) and aspects of form such as the use of -ing after ‘how about…?’ when giving suggestions.

                                  It’s also nice to see that learners enjoy their functional lessons and want to add more to them (as long as they don’t forget their key communicative aim such as selling a coffee to a customer!).

                                   

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