Teach Grammar Using The Communicative Approach: Functions and Structures

Teaching Grammar: Structure and Function - TESOL course This article on teaching grammar focuses on “functions”, what this word means in methodology jargon, and how we can identify functions through context. I would also like to introduce the connection between function and structure and how these concepts are combined in a Communicative Approach lesson.

The word ‘function’ is a term we use from the time the Notional/Functional syllabus was born and it continued to be used in Communicative Language Teaching. When we say something, we say it to communicate that particular thought to the listener. Every single sentence – and sometimes single words- has a function (i.e. meaning that the speaker is trying to convey). Even the word “yes” with falling intonation expresses detachment, non-involvement. Or, a word like ‘Tea?’ with rising intonation may mean an offering.

Why do we need to understand the concept of functions and exponents as English teachers? Well, when we teach grammar communicatively, we teach our students how to express what they want to say, and how to combine words to express those intentions.

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