Language teachers need to provide students with many opportunities to use the language that they are learning. However, students often do not get enough opportunity to use the language because teachers usually do most of the talking.
Functional Chunks of Language are expressions, phrases or words that students learn as a chunk without necessarily understanding the grammatical structure. They do however learn where and when to say them when communicating (i.e. the function). These Functional Chunks of Language will empower students to use the language early and often and they also help to keep the target language the dominant language in the classroom by both the students and the teacher. These phrases might include:
- How do you say…in….?
- What does …mean in…?
- How do you spell…?
- I forget my…
- Can I borrow a…
- I need a …
- Can I go to the bathroom.
- I’m not feeling well?
- What page?
- Can you repeat that please?
- Can you please say that more slowly?
- What is the homework?
- Can we start the homework now?
- What is the date?
These suggestions are based on the phrases that I hear most often from my students so I have them up on the wall so that students can look at them when they need them.
You can find complete poster sets here:
- French Classroom Phrases Poster Set
- French Classroom Phrases Powerpoint
- Spanish Classroom Phrases Poster Set
- Spanish Classroom Phrases Powerpoint
They all have an image with them as well to make sure that students know what they mean. After referencing them a few times you will be impressed by how quickly students learn and use them without looking back at them. I also spend some time at the beginning of each year explicitly going over them. If a student attempts to make a comment or ask a question in English that is one of the functional phrases on the wall I simply gesture to it and and require the student to say it in the target language. They learn quickly that they need to use these to communicate in class and it becomes second nature.