What is a functional approach in psycholinguistics

Functional grammar in the classroom

Table of Contents

1. Functional grammar theory
Historical summary
Need of grammar
Clarification of the concept of function
Functional grammar

2. How much learning material does the learner need?
Rhetoric and grammar: Saarlanders + greeting formula = "And?"
Grammar in its didactic approach - an understanding of the teaching process

3. Functional grammar in the classroom
The functional grammar cycle
The learner and the grammar - a discovery approach

4. Functional grammar based on Dr. Philip Jenninger at the memorial event for the 50th anniversary of the Reichspogromnacht

Proposed solution



1. Functional grammar theory

Historical summary

As an essential part of holistic language teaching, grammar is subject to the structural design of teaching methods. While grammar was understood as traditional school grammar at the time of the grammar translation method, which was to be seen in the center of the action, the direct method was based on behavioristic teaching methods, the focus of which was on drill and practice of linguistic use. Understanding of rules was no longer used as a deductive teaching method, but inductively. The grammar itself mostly only in the form of an appendix to each lesson. This neglect of knowledge of the rules of grammar contradicted the action of the corresponding teaching method. The audio-lingual method, for example, concentrated on the everyday communication patterns of the learners who were trained through authentic language situations (pattern drill). Errors were systematically "erased". The importance of an understanding of the rules was only weak, but not the requirement for grammatically correct mastery. The individual grammatical structures of each language were recognized, but the learner also had an understanding (Why becomes Which grammatical rule in which one Communication applied?) Required for this in order to communicate independently and with little error in the future, was not taken into account. If grammar lessons are primarily taught by imitation of speech, consequently there is no explicit grammar part in the lesson, then there can be no systematisation.

The turn of the 80s - foreign perspectives as a novelty in language acquisition - made it possible to compare languages ​​across cultures on the socio- and psycholinguistic levels, at the same time the demand for bilingualism and knowledge of the rules for the learner entered the classroom. The result of this dynamic structural process was the cognitivation of language teaching, an understanding of language knowledge (knowledge of the rules of grammar and lexicons) and language awareness (socio- and psycholinguistic constructs), which requires a teaching approach with the center of "language awareness" and thus the mentalistic approach and recognized the need for a reformed grammar.

But only the mentalistic turn, linguistic action and linguistic reflection as primary goals, with the theoretical foundations of cognitive teaching methods, postulated the grammar not in the traditional form as a necessary appendix or as traditional school grammar, but as an elementary area of ​​language skills for the goal of functional use with language.

Need of grammar

Without grammar, there would be no uniform rules for the use of words (which should then also not exist) and their meaning in sentences (which could also not exist). Language would consist of uncoordinated sounds strung together in loose sequences. Nevertheless, conveying emotional information, detached from grammar, would be possible. But a language without fixed grammar rules would be unsystematic and leave no possibility for learning a language itself, consequently there would be no communication. Assuming the identity hypothesis, one could argue that the only systematization would be through the unconscious, innate, highly abstract, language-specific, universal, and cognitive acquisition mechanisms postulated by Chomsky. It should be noted that vocabulary, specific forms of the various morphological subsystems (noun inflection, phoneme inventory, etc.) and idiosyncrasies of the individual linguistic syntax should not exist and thus the content of the universal grammar would be marginal.

There is no question, as the historical survey already showed, that grammar cannot be removed from the acquisition and learning process of (foreign) language. Much more important, however, is the realization that the mastery of their rules or even grammar as an end in itself cannot be the goal of the lesson (cf. grammar translation method or mediating method), but that grammar has a serving role. "It should enable communication in a comprehensive sense." (Götze, 1993) A communicative-functional grammar is required that fits into the pragmalinguistics and mentalistic approach and makes it easier for the learner to use and understand language (language knowledge). The synthesis of language use and language knowledge enables the development of language awareness, which can be seen as a starting point for the development of elaborate cognitive structures. Your goal - a meta-communicative competence in terms of understanding, analysis and production (cf. Ulrich, 2001).

In addition, other factors for the importance of grammar in foreign language teaching are of great interest. With reference to the education-oriented approach as postulated in the grammar translation method, the insight into the construction, function and history of the language is considered part of general educational knowledge and consequently a necessary element of grammar. Promoting the correct use of standard language as a means of understanding grammatical structures also helps in the spelling of words. Not only does standard language improve spelling and punctuation, it also improves the learning of grammatical structures - a functional approach. In this way, upper and lower case can be handled much more easily by the learner if there is an understanding of sentence structure and sentence structure. German as a foreign language also offers the possibility of using the structures of the mother tongue as a basis for learning German. Reference should be made to the Ranschburg phenomenon (Juhász, 1970) - that learners focus their attention on differences and a lack of contrast leads to “homogeneous inhibition”.

Clarification of the concept of function

If one speaks of a communicative-functional grammar, the term communication must also be explained in more detail. Communication as a representation, expression and appeal function that is reserved for humans (cf. Organum model, Bühler 1978) is also dependent on context factors that humans have to cognitively develop.

The utterance of a sentence can have various communicative functions. The sentence “I'm cold” not only includes an expression function with which the speaker wants to convey information about his condition to his environment, but can also explain in the display function why the speaker is trembling and has “goose bumps”, for example. In addition, this utterance can contain an indirect request by means of an appeal function, which asks the listener to close the window.

Cognitively, the communicative function of the speaker / writer requires the filtering of intakes from the context-related input, which in turn must be used to form hypotheses and test them in order to develop a successful communication process (output).

Figure not included in this excerpt

Figure: Function of the voice production system

The learner tests the hypotheses formed using information that is given to him through feedback from the environment, but also meta-linguistically by using secure information sources and receptively using current foreign-language data. Hypotheses that have passed this falsification principle are adopted in the learner's language and thus enable the development of learner language knowledge for improved communication with the learning environment.

The communication function can only be mastered successfully if there is a grammatical understanding, sufficient lexicon is mastered by the speaker and the speaker can judge whether the utterance fits into the corresponding context of the situation "... a functional orientation does not exclude grammatical knowledge, it includes it." (Götze 1999). According to Immanuel Kant, this is assessed as a function of judgment - grammatical competence is therefore embedded in communicative competence and an essential component of successful communication. Jakobsen (1969) expanded the meaning of communication by using it as a generic term for all functions of language use. Helbig (1999) operationalized this view by dividing the ambiguity of the concept of function into four functions.

1. Grammatical phenomena such as clauses, the final position of the finite in the introduced subordinate clause etc. received a syntactic function in the area of ​​communication. 2. A distinction between intra-lingual (the meaning of a word) and extra-lingual (denotation) as a semantic function in linguistics. 3. The communicative function that defines the structure of the topic-rhema and references in the text and, finally, 4. the logical function that allows the reader / listener to understand the representation of utterances in sentences.

Only through the operationalization of the concept of function can the meaning of functional grammar in the language acquisition process be clarified and scientifically elaborated. Götze (1999) concludes "This seems to be a meaningful differentiation for a functional grammar for learners, ...".