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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2009

    Functional Notional Syllabus

    I would like to ask about the Functional Notional Syllabus but first I can provide you with its definition mentioned by Brown:

    A notional-functional syllabus is a way of organizing a language-learning curriculum, rather than a method or an approach to teaching. In a notional-functional syllabus, instruction is not organized in terms of grammatical structure, as had often been done with the Audio-Lingual Method (ALM), but instead in terms of "notions" and "functions."
    In this model, a "notion" is a particular context in which people communicate. A "function" is a specific purpose for a speaker in a given context. For example, the "notion," of shopping requires numerous language "functions," such as asking about prices or features of a product and bargaining.
    Proponents of the notional-functional syllabus[who?] claimed that it addressed the deficiencies they found in the ALM by helping students develop their ability to effectively communicate in a variety of real-life contexts.

    Now, my question is:
    how can we differentiate between the "notions" and the "functions"? I mean for example, can I say that "shopping" is the conceptual idea, andn the functions that can be applied in that context are like "bargining, asking about the features of something.." are the "functions"? or I should say that the notion is "bargining" and the differnt ways in asking about prices are the functions?

    Many thanks.

  2. #2
    Tdol is offline Editor,
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • Japan
    Join Date
    Nov 2002

    Re: Functional Notional Syllabus

    DA Wilkins wrote the book Notional Syllabuses, which is central to this. If the notion is thecontext, then bargaining strikes me as not enough in itself to be the notion- it's a strategy used to achieve your aims, and a way in which people communicate but to me not the context.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2009

    Re: I'm confused!

    Does it mean that Brown's ideas were against Wilkins beliefs?
    because I got all what I wrote before from the Wikipedia.

    STRATEGY is a key word used by Wilkins, I think.
    the term "notional syllabus" embraces the strategy of language teaching that derives the content of learning form an initial analysis of the learner's need to express meaning.

    from: The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Linguistics:
    notional syllabus. Strategy for teaching a language based on and organized by the functions that utterances can have
    but I don't understand this!

    Can you provide me with an example: how to differntiate between "notion", and "function"?

    Many thanks.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2009

    Re: Functional Notional Syllabus

    Dear teacher, thanks for answering me, but I have this from Krahnke, Karl book "Approaches to Syllabus Design for Foreign Language Teaching."
    A sample unit of the notional functional syllabus:
    What's the matter?
    Talking about sickness.
    Making a suggestion
    Accepting or rejecting a suggestion
    Making a request
    Agreeing to a request.

    The question now is:
    Can I say that all of these mentioned above are functions to the notion of the lesson which is "what's the matter?"

    So, the context or the notion is the whole unit, and we can see it in the title of the unit. And the content should tackle the functions needed?
    Another question: should all of the above points be as a part of a conversation?

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