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The Importance of Functional Language in the Communication Cycle

blogEvery Monday I ask new students what skill they would like to improve in their time at Bloomsbury International and more often than not I get a single word reply.

Speaking.

But what exactly do they mean by that?

Well, to put it simply: Speaking = Communication

Communication can be simply defined as a 4-step process:

  1. The Sender, you, forms a message in their head.
  2. That message is transmitted via a “code”, which is English, to the Receiver.
  3. The Receiver, decodes the English “code”, processes the information, forms a message and encodes it back to English.
  4. The Receiver sends the message back to the Sender who should confirm the receipt.

As you can see from the diagram above, communication is by no means a linear process. It is, in fact, a circular process which is also known as the Communication Cycle.

Bearing the above in mind, today’s article will examine the ways in which can facilitate the Communication Cycle by adding what is commonly referred to as Functional Language.

Functional language can be defined as the type of language, primarily consisting of fixed expressions, which can be used in various social contexts to prime or prepare the Receiver for the message the Source is going to send.

Today we are examining Functional Language for Expressing Opinion;

 

  1. I’d say that ….
  2. For me, …
  3. I feel…
  4. If you ask me,….
  5. It seems to me…
  6. I tell you what I think, …
  7. I think/don’t think that…
  8. In my opinion…
  9. I’m sure that…
  10. I’ve always thought that…
  11. I definitely think that…
  12. Personally, I believe…
  13. I tend to think that…
  14. I’m inclined to think that…

Using the above expressions in an English conversation makes you sound more natural and prepares the Receiver – friend, classmate, teacher, waiter, staff at the ticket office etc – for what it is you are going to say/express; your Opinion.

The majority of students learn a few of these expressions and tend to recycle them in their everyday speaking, however bear in mind that just because something is not wrong does not mean it’s right.

The longer you study English the more accurate you should strive to become, so expanding and diversifying your vocabulary and the expressions you use the key to becoming a more competent speaker of English.

Task:

Some of these expressions are more formal than others. What kind of social situations would you use them in?

A few examples could be a professional/business setting, a conversation with a new/close friend, an IELTS examiner, a classmate you don’t know very well, etc.

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