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LANGUAGE FUNCTIONS and FORMS

This section contains language functions and forms that native English speakers acquire mostly before entering
school or naturally at home. These language functions and forms, however, need to be explicitly taught to English
language learners and may be taught to ELLs at all grade levels and as the need and context arise.

The contrast between form and function in language may be illustrated using a simple biological parallel. If doctors
studied only the anatomy of the human body (assuming that it could be studied exclusively) they would not be able
to heal us. To cure us they need to understand the physiology of our bodies, the interrelated functions of systems,
organs, cells and genes...

The study of forms or parts of speech used to be called Morphology. It is the Anatomy of a language. (Viking Coe,
U of Houston, 1994). Forms of a language deal with the internal grammatical structure of words. The relationship
between “boy” and “boys” and the relationship (irregular) between man and men would be forms of a language.

The study of functions focuses on the way that parts of speech stand in line or are ordered together in the
language. It is the Physiology of a language, its Syntax, a derivative of the Greek verb syntassw (to order
together). A language function refers to the purpose for which the speech or writing is being used.
For example, in speech we
 give instructions,

 introduce ourselves, or

 make requests

In academic writing we use a range of specific functions in order to communicate ideas clearly.
These include
 describing processes

 comparing or contrasting things or ideas, and

 classifying objects or ideas

LANGUAGE FUNCTIONS and


SOME FORMS

Susana Dutro and Carol Moran’s Rethinking English Language Instruction: An Architectural Approach, 2002.
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Day 3 PH 7.1 Language Functions Final.docx


1. Expressing needs and likes
 Indirect/ direct object 13. Persuading
 Subject/ verb agreement  Verb Forms
 Pronouns
14. Literary Analysis
2. Describing people, places and things  Sentence structure and
 Nouns,  Specific Vocabulary
 Pronouns
 Adjectives 15. Cause and Effect
 Verb Forms
3. Describing spatial and temporal relations
 Prepositional phrases 16. Drawing Conclusions
 Comparative adjective
4. Describing actions
 Present progressive 17. Defining
 Adverbs  Nouns, pronouns and adjectives

5. Retelling/relating past events 18 Explaining


 Past tense verbs  Verb forms
 Perfect aspect (present and past)  Declarative sentences
 Complex sentences
6. Making predictions  Adverbs of manner
 Verbs: future tense, conditional mode
19. Generalizing
7. Asking Informational Questions  Abstract nouns
 Verbs and verb phrases in questions  Verb forms
 Nominalizations
8. Asking Clarifying Questions
 Questions with increasing specificity 20. Evaluating
 Complex sentences
9. Expressing and Supporting Opinions  Increasing specificity of nouns, verbs,
 Sentence Structure and adjectives
 Modals (will, can, may, shall)
21. Interpreting
10. Comparing  Language of propaganda
 Adjectives and conjunctions  Complex sentences
 Comparatives  Nominalizations
 Superlatives
 Adverbs 22. Sequencing
 Adverbs of time
11. Contrasting  Relative clauses
 Comparative adjectives  Subordinate conjunctions

12. Summarizing 23. Hypothesizing and speculating


 Increasingly complex sentences with  Modals (would, could, might)
increasingly specific vocabulary  Compound tenses (would have been)

Susana Dutro and Carol Moran’s Rethinking English Language Instruction: An Architectural Approach, 2002.
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Day 3 PH 7.1 Language Functions Final.docx


Oregon English Language Proficiency Standards
ACQUISITION OF GRAMMATICAL FORMS AND LANGUAGE FUNCTIONS
ALL GRADES
1. Language Function: Expressing Needs and Likes
Beginning Early Intermediate Intermediate Early Advanced Advanced Target Forms:
Students demonstrate minimal Students demonstrate Students demonstrate good Students demonstrate Students’ comprehension
comprehension of general increased comprehension comprehension of general consistent comprehension of general and implied
meaning; gain familiarity with of general meaning and meaning; increased of general meaning; good meaning, including
the sounds, rhythms and some specific meaning. comprehension of specific understanding of implied idiomatic and figurative
Use routine expressions meaning; responds in more meaning; sustain language. Students
patterns of English. Early stages
independently and respond complex sentences, with conversation, respond with initiate and negotiate
show no verbal responses while using phrases and simple more detail using newly detail in compound and using appropriate
in later stages one or two word sentences, which include a acquired vocabulary to complex sentences; discourse, varied
responses are expected. subject and predicate. experiment and form actively participates using grammatical structures
Students respond in single Students show basic errors messages. (The brown more extensive vocabulary, and vocabulary; use of
words and phrases, which may in speech. (The bear is bear lived with his family use standard grammar with conventions for formal
include subject or a predicate. brown. He is eating) in the forest) few random errors. (Can and informal use.
Many speech errors are bears live in the forest if (Would you like me to
observed. (bear, brown) they find food there?) bring pictures of the
bear that I saw last
summer)
One or two word (nouns or Simple sentences with Elaborated sentences Sentences with Complex sentences, Sentence Structure:
yes/no) to questions about subject/verb/object. “I with subject/verb/object. subject/verb/object and perhaps with tag or The basic sentence
preferences, such as two, like/don’t like— dependent clause. embedded questions. structures we use to
apples, or tree. Many write (object)—“ “I need a express needs and
name of favorite ______ from s/some --- (object)—.” likes are
list/web foundations to the
more complex
sentence structure
we use for
academic purposes

2. Language Function: Describing People, Places and Things


Beginning Early Intermediate Intermediate Early Advanced Advanced Target Forms
Common nouns and adjectives Simple sentences with Elaborated sentences Compound sentences Complex sentences Nouns Pronouns and
the verb to be, using has/have/had or with more specific with more specific Adjectives Students
common nouns and is/are/were with nouns vocabulary (nouns, vocabulary (nouns, learn to understand and
adjectives. The (my, and adjectives. adjectives) adjectives) generate oral and written
language with nouns
her) ______ is/are
pronouns and adjectives
_______. A (it)
has/have _________

Susana Dutro’s Rethinking English Language Instruction: An Architectural Approach,


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Day 3 PH 7.1 Language Functions Final.docx
Oregon English Language Proficiency Standards

3. Language Function: Describing Location


Beginning Early Intermediate Intermediate Early Advanced Advanced Target Forms
Demonstrated comprehension of Simple sentences with May include two Complex sentences with Complex sentences with Prepositional Phrases
total physical response commands prepositional phrases, prepositional phrases with phrases using prepositions, phrases using Students learn to
including prepositions (on, off, in, such as next to, beside, more difficult such as beneath, within. prepositions, such as understand and general
out, inside, outside) between, in front of, in prepositions such as: in beneath, within. oral and written
back of, behind, on the front of, behind, next to. language with
left/right, in the middle of, prepositional phrases.
above, below, under.

4. Language Function: Describing Action


Beginning Early Intermediate Intermediate Early Advanced Advanced Target Forms
Demonstrate comprehension Present progressive. Variety of verb tenses and Adverb clauses telling Adverb clauses telling Present progressive,
(They perform or describe descriptive adverbs. how, where, or when. how, where, or when. adverbs Students lean to
actions) understand and generate
oral and written
language skills with
present progressive and
adverbs.

5. Language Function: Retelling/Relating Past Events (Kinder – General Understanding


Beginning Early Intermediate Intermediate Early Advanced Advanced Target Forms
Single words in response to past Simple sentences with Simple sentences with Compound sentences Present progressive/past Past Tense Verbs
tense question. past progressive __ regular and irregular past using past tense and perfect tense with Students learn to
(pronoun) ___ was/were tense verbs adverb/ specialized prepositions understand and generate
_____ing. “Yesterday/Last ____/On _____ have/has been oral and written
___day (pronoun) ____ - ____ing since/for ____. language with past tense
ed (prep. Phrase or other verbs
direct object.” First ___
and then ___ . Finally

6. Language Function: Making Predictions


Beginning Early Intermediate Intermediate Early Advanced Advanced Target Forms
In response to questions, may The _____ is/are going to The ________ will Conditional (could, might) Conditional (could, Verbs: future tense,
respond by circling, pointing, and ______. ________. mood in complex might) mood in complex conditional mood.
so on or answer with one or two sentences. sentences. Students learn to
words. understand and generate
oral and written
language with future
tense verbs and
conditional mood.
Susana Dutro’s Rethinking English Language Instruction: An Architectural Approach,
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Day 3 PH 7.1 Language Functions Final.docx
Oregon English Language Proficiency Standards

7. Language Function: Asking Informal Questions


Beginning Early Intermediate Intermediate Early Advanced Advanced Target Forms
Simple questions about familiar Present or present Who, what, where, why Detailed questions, with Detailed questions with Verbs and verb Phrases
or concrete subjects progressive tense questions with “do or 5w’s and how expanded verb phrase. in questions: Students
questions with “to be” did” learn to understand and
generate oral and written
language with Verbs and
verb phrases in questions

8. Language Function: Asking Clarifying Questions


Beginning Early Intermediate Intermediate Early Advanced Advanced Target Forms
Not Applicable Formula questions Formula questions A variety of fairly specific Varied, specific questions Questions with
clarifying classroom clarifying classroom questions clarifying clarifying procedures or Increasing Specificity
procedures, rules and procedures, rules and procedures or content content
routines routines

9. Language Function: Expressing and Supporting Opinions


Beginning Early Intermediate Intermediate Early Advanced Advanced Target Forms
I like/don’t like ______ (concrete I think/agree with (don’t) I think/agree with (don’t) In my opinion ____ Complex sentences using Sentence Structure
topics) ______ ____ because _____ should ____ because/so modals and clauses
______

10. Language Function: Compacting


Beginning Early Intermediate Intermediate Early Advanced Advanced Target Forms
Single words or phrases in Sentences with Subject/verb/adjective, Varied sentence structures Complex sentence Adjectives and
response to concrete comparison subject/verb/adjective but _____. Adjective with with specific comparative structure with specific Conjunctions
questions showing similarities and –er or –est. adjectives and phrases. comparative language.
differences.

11. Language Function: Contrasting


Beginning Early Intermediate Intermediate Early Advanced Advanced Target Forms
Sentences with Subject/verb/adjective Both Approximately used Comparative Adjectives
subject/verb/adjective like ____ but subject/verb/adjective, but idiomatic phrases and
showing similarities and subject/verb/adjective. subject/verb. contrasting words such as,
differences whereas, and in contrast

Susana Dutro’s Rethinking English Language Instruction: An Architectural Approach,


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Day 3 PH 7.1 Language Functions Final.docx
Oregon English Language Proficiency Standards
12. Language Function: Summarizing
Beginning Early Intermediate Intermediate Early Advanced Advanced Target Forms
Simple sentences with key Compound sentences Conjunctions that Conjunctions that Increasingly Complex
nouns, adjectives, and with “and/but” summarize (to conclude, summarize (indeed, Sentences with
verbs indeed, in summary, in therefore, consequently) Increasingly Specific
short) Vocabulary

13. Language Function: Persuading


Beginning Early Intermediate Intermediate Early Advanced Advanced Target Forms
Imperative verb forms Complex sentences with Complex sentences with Verb Forms
future and conditional. varied verb forms and tag
questions, idiomatic
expressions or embedded
clauses.

14. Language Function: Literary Analysis


Beginning Early Intermediate Intermediate Early Advanced Advanced Target Forms
Single words for character and Simple sentences Compound sentences Descriptive language in Specific descriptive Sentence Structure and
setting. (subject/verb/adjective) with and, because, more complex sentences. language in complex Specific Vocabulary
(subject/verb/object) before, after. sentences.

15. Language Function: Cause and Effect Relationship


Beginning Early Intermediate Intermediate Early Advanced Advanced Target Forms
Answer cause and effect Descriptive sentences Complex sentences with Conditional: If ___ Verb Forms
question with a simple with past tense verbs. past tense verbs. had/hadn’t _____. _____
response. would/wouldn’t have
_____.

16, Language Function: Draw Conclusions


Beginning Early Intermediate Intermediate Early Advanced Advanced Target Forms
Comparative adjectives Comparative adjectives Comparative adjectives Comparative Adjectives
with past tense verbs in with conjunctions such as with idiomatic phrases
simple sentences. although, because, that. and passive voice.

Susana Dutro’s Rethinking English Language Instruction: An Architectural Approach,


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Day 3 PH 7.1 Language Functions Final.docx
Oregon English Language Proficiency Standards
17. Language Function: Defining
Beginning Early Intermediate Intermediate Early Advanced Advanced Target Forms
Patterned responses: A table is Simple terms, aspects of Connected text including Concrete and abstract Clear, well-structured, Nouns, abstract nouns,
furniture; A boy is a person. concrete and familiar irregular nouns, personal, topics using irregular detailed language on pronouns, adjectives
objects, regular nouns possessive pronouns and nouns, singular and plural, complex subjects, Students learn to define
singular and plural, adjectives with some personal and possessive showing controlled use of concrete and abstract
personal pronouns, irregular past tense verbs. pronouns and adjectives. nouns, pronouns, objects/concepts with
present tense, simple adjectives. correct nouns, pronouns,
sentences. and adjectives

18. Language Function: Explaining


Beginning Early Intermediate Intermediate Early Advanced Advanced Target Forms
Main points in familiar Explain simple, Get across important Get across which point Verb forms; Indicate
idea or problem with straightforward points using declarative, he/she feels is most verbs(A verb which
some precision using information of immediate compound and complex important using regular makes a statement of
simple indicative verb relevance, using regular sentences, regular and and irregular verb forms, fact) Declarative
forms in simple verbs and adverbs of irregular verb forms. adverbs of manner and sentences; Complex
declarative sentences. manner in declarative (Complex: As I came compound-complex sentences; Adverbs of
(Large oats grew in the sentences and compound home, I stopped at the sentences. manner
park) (The length of the sentences. (Maria planted store) (Adverbs of manner: The Students learn to develop
room is 40 feet) the petunia seeds (Compound: The children children who sang loudly and use explanations
carefully). who came in early had got a cookie, but those using appropriate verb
refreshments, but those who didn’t sing had forms, declarative and
who came late had none.) none.) complex sentences and
adverbs or manner.

19. Language Function: Generalizing


Beginning Early Intermediate Intermediate Early Advanced Advanced Target Forms
Imperative mode: Indicative mode: makes a Subjunctive Mode: Nouns - Common and
Expresses command: statement of fact (The expressing a condition Collective and Abstract
(Take me home. Stay temperature is low.) contrary to fact or nouns; Verb forms;
there)` Abstract nouns: name expressing a doubt (If Students learn to develop
Collective nouns name as things or ideas that people only he were here. and use generalizations
a unit the members of a cannot touch or handle using abstract nouns,
group (herd, class, jury, (beauty, honestly, comfort, verb forms and
congregation.) love). nominalizations..

Susana Dutro’s Rethinking English Language Instruction: An Architectural Approach,


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Day 3 PH 7.1 Language Functions Final.docx
Oregon English Language Proficiency Standards

20. Language Function: Evaluating


Beginning Early Intermediate Intermediate Early Advanced Advanced Target Forms
Adjectives that point out Adjectives used to limit: Evaluate simple direct Qualify opinions and Convey finer shades of Complex sentences;
particular objects (that wagon, (few horses, much snow, exchange of limited statements precisely in meaning precisely by Increasing specificity of
those toys, each person, every little rain) information on familiar relation to degrees of, for using, with reasonable nouns, verbs, and
girl). and routine matters using example, accuracy, a wide range of adjectives; Correlative
Number adjectives: (Two men, ten simple verbs and certainty/uncertainty, qualifying devices (e.g. conjunctions.
ships’ the third time, the ninth adjectives. belief/doubt, likelihood, adverbs expressing Students learn to
boy) Correlative conjunctions etc. degree,(This class is too understand and use
are used in pairs: both – hard) clauses expressing complex sentences using
and; not only – but also limitations; (This is a very specific nouns,
(Neither the teacher nor school van, but it is only verbs and adjectives.
the students could solve used for sports) complex
the problem).: sentences).

21. Language Function: Interpreting


Beginning Early Intermediate Intermediate Early Advanced Advanced Target Forms
Interpret a single phrase at a time, Interpret short, simple Interpret short, simple Interpret a wide range of Interpret critically Language of
picking up familiar names, words, texts containing the texts on familiar matters long and complex texts, virtually all forms of the propaganda; Complex
and basic phrases. (D’Onofrio highest frequency of a concrete type, which appreciating subtle written language sentences
chocolates are the best) vocabulary. consist of high frequency distinctions of style and including abstract, Students learn to identify
everyday or school- implicit as well as explicit structurally complex, or and interpret the
related language. meaning. highly colloquial non- language of propaganda
literary writings. and use complex
sentences.

22. Language Function: Sequencing


Beginning Early Intermediate Intermediate Early Advanced Advanced Target Forms
Subject: The girl who was sick Direct object: The story Prepositional: object I Possessive: I know the Object of comparison: Adverbs of time;
went home. that I read was long. found the book that John woman whose father is The person that Susan is Relative clauses;
Natural sequencing: I hit him and Indirect object: The man was talking about. visiting. Subordinate taller than is Mary. Subordinate
he felt over. who[m] I gave the present conjunctions: used to join conjunctions.
to was absent. two grammatical parts of Students learn
equal rank (Although he sequencing using
worked hard, he did not adverbs of time, relative
finish his homework) clauses and subordinate
conjunctions.

Susana Dutro’s Rethinking English Language Instruction: An Architectural Approach,


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Day 3 PH 7.1 Language Functions Final.docx
Oregon English Language Proficiency Standards
23. Language Function: Hypothesizing and speculating
Beginning Early Intermediate Intermediate Early Advanced Advanced Target Forms
Auxiliary verbs that Auxiliary verb indicating Auxiliary verbs include Modals (would, could,
indicate futurity: will and desire or intent: woul.d modal verbs, which may might)
shall. express possibility: may, Compound tenses (would
might, can, could. have been)
Students learn to
hypothesize and
speculate using modals
and compound tenses..

24. Language Function: Summarizing


Beginning Early Intermediate Intermediate Early Advanced Advanced Target Forms
Copy out short texts. Paraphrase short written Summarize extracts from Summarize a wide range Summarize information Modals (would, could,
Can copy out single words and passages in a simple news items, interviews or of factual and imaginative from different sources, might)
short texts. fashion, using the original documentaries containing texts, commenting on and reconstructing arguments Compound tenses (would
text wording and opinions, argument and discussing contrasting and accounts in a have been)
ordering. pick out and discussion. Can points of view and the coherent presentation of Students learn to
reproduce key words and summarize the plot and main themes. the overall result. summarize and speculate
phrases or short sentences sequence of events in a using modals and
from a short text within .lm or play. Can collate compound tenses..
the learner’s limited short pieces of
competence and information from several
experience. sources and summarize
them for somebody el

Susana Dutro’s Rethinking English Language Instruction: An Architectural Approach,


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Day 3 PH 7.1 Language Functions Final.docx