Introduction to Notional-Functional Syllabuses It is a semantically-based syllabus. It isnot organized in terms of grammaticalstructure, but instead in terms of:Notions General. Specific.Functions
The development, its Pioneers &Major advocates. Traditionally, language learning syllabuses were structuredaround the grammar of the target language. By the 1970’s language educators were increasinglydissatisfied with such formalistic views. Motivation depended on immediate «payoff». In the seventies second language students were quitecapable of imitating and memorizing the language. In 1971 a group of linguists studied the needs of Europeanstudents. The mandate was generalized in 1978 to cover all levelsand types of language learning. Wilkins (1972) grouped language items for teachingpurposes in terms of grammatical categories and languagefunctions.
Premises Communication is meaningful behavior. Language is constructed around languagefunctions and notions.
Components1. The situations.2. Topics.3. The language functions: Personal,Interpersonal, Directive, Referential,Imaginative.4. The general notions5. The specific (topic related) notions.6. The language forms.7. The degree of skills.
SITUATUION(Notion)FUNCTION ACTUALLANGUAGELANGUAGEPATTERNS andTENSESGetting things connectede.g. gas, phone, TV.Rent-payment–contractBuying furniture –Second-hand, markets,auctions, small ads.Paying bills-when and how.At the door: milkman,dustman, salesman.Repair-plumber, electrician.Making appointments,Electotal Register.Understanding and asking forinformation..Understanding directions andlocal information.Expressing intentions.Declining.Giving information.Making requests to.I’m looking for a largewardrobe.What sort of price did you havein mind?Have you got anythingcheaper?I’m moving to... Can I have thegas/electricity connected,please?What’s your address?It’s £70 deposit.Hello, I’m the…Could I see your identification,please?Where can I get a…?Are you interested in…?No, not today, thank youI’m looking for…Have you got…?Could I have…?Can I…?Can you tell me…?Would you like…?Sorry, I…Comparatives/AdjetivesWhere can I…?(+ infinitive without to)LEXIS LITERACY SYSTEM AIDS andMATERIALSNames of households items,including plugs, etc.Equipment.Names of local institutionse.g. clinic, library.Reading bills, final demands,meter and filling in estimatedbills, checking meter readings.Library-Section headingsForm-fillingsReading contracts.Types of shops best for certainitems.Where to buy what.Use of the telephone for buying,inquiring.Filling bills and receips.Guarantees.What is delivered-milk, etc.How and when to pay bills.Where to get local information-library, rent officer,Legal centre.Asking for identification fromstrangers at the door.Simplified maps of locality –grading up to actual maps.Simplified and graded gas billsand meter readings.«7 days a week» Pack Tapes –of dialogues situtaions.
Characteristics1. Functional view.2. Semantic base.3. Learner-centered view.4. Analysis of learners needs.5. Learner-centered goals.6. Authentic language use.7. Testing focused on ability.
LogicA general competence in language The goalContext-dependent
Syllabus Type Product-oriented syllabus.
AssumptionMotivations, characteristics,abilities, limitations andresources are the point ofdeparture.
PhilosophyThe primary purposeIdentifying the elements of the targetlanguage.
The effect of theNotional-FunctionalSyllabus Approachon LanguageTeaching Pedagogy
Incorporation of new textbooks By the mid-1970’s. Instead of having unit headings as«Modals» or «The Simple Past» now suchtextbooks included titles like «Give, Askfor & Refuse Permission» and «Talkingabout the weekend»
Priority is given to:a) Sentences in combination.b) «Meaning» over «form».c) Participation in authentic language use.d) Fluency over formal accuracy.e) Speaking and listening skills in class.f) Less controlled testing.
An evaluation of Notional-Functional SyllabusesThe greatest strenghts: Opportunity to use real-world language. The syllabus is easily expandable. It promotes language variation.
An evaluation of Notional-Functional SyllabusesIt was not impervious to critisism: The NFS seemed a very sensible idea atthe time. A single language function may beexpressed in many different ways. Difficulties when grading functions. The finite inventories of functions are notdifferent from inventories of grammaritems. The NFS approach is exclusivelyconcerned with the target language.
A few concluding remarks onNotional-Functional Syllabuses Language learning materials shouldincorporate both formal and functionalelements. Notional-Functional Syllabuses are mostreadily applicable for courses andprograms for learners with specialpurposes.