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TEFL Masterclass – How Can I Function? 

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Exclusive Contents

Marie Pettigrew – Teacher Trainer, Assessor. EFL and CELTA Consultant

Marie Pettigrew embarked on her teaching journey in ihHastings, where she pursued CELTA and DTefla under the guidance of Adrian Underhill, who served as the Head of Training. Over the course of her career, Marie has contributed her expertise in teaching and teacher training across diverse locations. Marie pioneered the introduction of the online CELTA, making their center the first in the UK to offer the course outside of ihLondon.

What you will learn

In this TEFL Webinar on teaching functional language, the speaker discusses the importance of teaching functional language to English learners and provides tips and techniques for incorporating it effectively into lessons.

Functional language is the language we use to perform various functions, such as making requests, giving advice, or apologizing. It is essential for effective communication, as it helps learners navigate everyday situations and interact with others appropriately.

By incorporating these tips and techniques into their lessons, teachers can help learners develop the functional language skills they need to communicate effectively in English. This will enable students to navigate everyday situations with greater confidence and ease, ultimately leading to more successful interactions and a richer language learning experience.

Workshop Summary

Introduction:

In this TEFL Webinar on teaching functional language, the speaker discusses the importance of teaching functional language to English learners and provides tips and techniques for incorporating it effectively into lessons.

Functional language is the language we use to perform various functions, such as making requests, giving advice, or apologizing. It is essential for effective communication, as it helps learners navigate everyday situations and interact with others appropriately.

To teach functional language effectively, educators should focus on the following key points:

1. Context: Establish the context fully, as functional language is context-dependent. Use images, videos, or real-life situations to make the context clear and relatable for learners.

2. Functions and Exponents: Identify and clarify the functions (purposes) of different language items and their exponents (specific expressions). Categorize exponents according to their functions and have learners practice using them in context.

3. Appropriacy: Teach students about the appropriate use of functional language in various situations. Discuss levels of formality, politeness, and familiarity, and how these aspects can affect communication.

4. Intonation and Paralinguistic Features: Emphasize the importance of intonation, facial expressions, and gestures in conveying meaning. Teach learners how to use these features to enhance their communication and make their functional language more effective.

5. Practice Activities: Provide a variety of practice activities for learners, such as matching exponents to their functions, ordering exponents by formality, gap-fill exercises, and role-plays. Ensure that learners practice functional language in different situations and contexts, with varied relationships and roles.

6. Cultural Issues: Address cultural differences in the use of functional language, such as the use of “please” in English compared to other languages. Teach neutral exponents that can be used in a wide range of situations.

To help learners improve their functional language skills, the speaker recommends the following teaching techniques:

1. Use visuals, such as images and videos, to establish context and provide examples of functional language in use.

2. Model and drill functional language, focusing on pronunciation, intonation, and paralinguistic features.

3. Provide opportunities for learners to practice functional language in controlled and freer activities, such as unjumbling sentences, matching sentence halves, gap fills, and role-plays.

4. Encourage learners to explore different levels of formality and informality, and to consider the power balance between speakers in various situations.

5. Address cultural differences in the use of functional language, helping learners understand how different expressions may be perceived in different cultures.

6. Make learning functional language engaging and fun by incorporating activities such as whispering, singing, or shouting words, or practicing intonation through humming.

Conclusion:

By incorporating these tips and techniques into their lessons, teachers can help learners develop the functional language skills they need to communicate effectively in English. This will enable students to navigate everyday situations with greater confidence and ease, ultimately leading to more successful interactions and a richer language learning experience.

Reflective Questions

Have a quick think about the reflective questions below in order to get the most out of the workshop:

  1. Does teaching function at lower levels differ from upper levels?
  2. What might teachers struggle with when delivering functional lessons?
  3. How can cultural norms affect what and how we teach function?
  4. What tips would you give teachers?

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