LANGUAGE FUNCTIONS and FORMS
The English Language Proficiency Standards are written as pathways to the Oregon English Language Arts standards. The ELP
Standards are designed to supplement the ELA standards to ensure that LEP students develop proficiency in both the English language
and the concepts and skills contained in the ELA standards. They can be found on the web atwww.ode.state.or.us/teachlearn/real/standards.
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 (ELLs). They may be
taught to ELLs at all grade levels, and as the need and context arises.
Forms of a language deal with theinternal grammatical structure of words. The relationship between boy and boys, for example, and
the relationship (irregular) between man and men would be forms of a language.
A language function refers to the purpose for which speech or writing is being used.
In speech these include:
In academic writing we use arange of specific functions in order to communicate ideas clearly.
comparing or contrasting things or ideas, and
classifying objects or ideas
The contrast between form and function in language can be illustrated through a simple medical analogy. If doctors studied only a
limited portion of the human system, such as anatomical form,they would be unable to adequately address their patient’s needs. To
fully treat their patients, physicians must understand the purposes of the human body and the relationships between organs, cells, and
genes (Pozzi, 2004). Similarly, ELLs need to understand both the form (structure) and the function (purpose) of the English language
in order to reach higher levels of proficiency.
Pozzi, D.C.(2004). Forms and functions in language: Morphology, syntax. Retrieved March 10, 2005, from University of Houston, College of Education
Web site: http://www.viking.coe.uh.edu/grn11.intr/intr.0.1.2.htm
Language Functions and Examples of Forms
Examples of Language Forms
Expressing needs and likes
Indirect/ direct object, subject/ verb agreement, pronouns
Describingpeople, places, and things
Nouns, pronouns, adjectives
Describing spatial and temporal relations
Present progressive tense, adverbs
Retelling/relating past events
Past tense verbs, perfect aspect (present and past)
Verbs: future tense, conditional mode
Asking Informational Questions
Verbs and verb phrasesin questions
Asking Clarifying Questions
Questions with increasing specificity
Expressing and Supporting Opinions
Sentence structure, modals (will, can, may, shall)
Adjectives and conjunctions, comparatives, superlatives, adverbs
Increasingly complex sentences with increasingly specific
Sentence structure, specific vocabulary
Cause and Effect
Nouns, abstract nouns, pronouns, and adjectives
Verb forms, indicative verb, declarative sentences, complex
sentences, adverbs of manner
Common, collective and abstract nouns, verbforms,
Complex sentences; increasing specificity of nouns, verbs, and
adjectives; correlative conjunctions
Language of propaganda, complex sentences, nominalizations
Adverbs of time, relative clauses, subordinate conjunctions
Hypothesizing and speculating
Modals (would, could, might), compound tenses (would have
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