The Functional-Notional Approach

As an administrator, teacher, or paraprofessional, you’re faced with the incredible task of teaching engaging, age-appropriate, school/district/state aligned content with clear, impactful, carefully crafted objectives on a daily, if not hourly and even minute by minute basis, right? And like most of us, your desire is to accomplish this in a way that makes learning not only attainable but also inspiring— dare I say FUN— for your students! When it comes to your English Language Learners and the academic objectives necessary to propel them forward as they acquire language (such as phonemic and phonological awareness, phonics, proper syntax, situational dialogue, correct use of tenses, proper use of irregular verbs—the list seems endless!), it can sometimes feel as though meeting these scholarly goals in an environment that is also engaging for our youngest learners is simply impossible to balance. Never fear…this is where GrapeSEED’s Functional-Notional Approach to language acquisition comes in! We value this joy-filled, natural, high impact method to English language instruction, which is why the Functional-Notional Approach is one of our seamlessly integrated Five Platforms.

GrapeSEED’s Functional-Notional Approach not only assures a newfound communicative ability for your girls and boys, but does so in a way that involves an engaging environment where each of the academic objectives in that endless list above, and more, are learned. You see, language acquisition through GrapeSEED’s Functional-Notional Approach is a simple process that utilizes the very same methods by which infants acquire their first language. Children begin by listening to the expressions of language and associate a sound or a series of sounds with its function (that is, what it accomplishes). They then begin to actively participate as they’re confidence builds, trying out those new words and expressions themselves until they learn to reproduce the most basic of necessary functions. They add new notions (meanings/ideas) as they understand them and find opportunities to use them and apply them in a personal way.

Check out this example:

Example of a language function for expressing feelings of fondness:
I like…

Example of a language function combined with general notions:
I like my brother and sister.

Example of a language function with specific notions:
I like pineapple and cheese on my pizza.

It’s difficult for children to become proficient in English oral language by memorizing lists of words and grammatically structured sentences. Instead, students can learn language function “templates,” hear them used repeatedly in various and proper ways and develop the confidence to personally interchange notions within those templates to express different thoughts. How is all of this introduced to your students? Dull drills? NO! Worksheets? NEVER! All of this worthwhile language is introduced to your students in GrapeSEED Units, using catchy, age-appropriate, intentionally designed songs, chants, poems, big books, action activities, stories and more.

As your students progress through our carefully designed GrapeSEED Units, they’ll be introduced to topics, language expressions, functions and notions that provide a powerful progression of language acquisition that will empower them to communicate well by asking and answering questions, expressing facts and feelings and so much more in a personally relevant, natural manner.

Want more information about The Functional-Notional Method and GrapeSEED? Just contact us!

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