A syllabus that is organised according to the grammatical notions (concepts) that a learner might need to express (e.g. cause and effect, frequency, pastness, agency, duration, quantity) rather than according to structural or task progression. Notional syllabuses were particularly influential in the 1970s and were often linked with functional syllabuses, making for notional-functional syllabuses, in which the language needed to express particular functions was focussed on.
"Because of its focus on abstract categories like pastness, uncertainty, comparison, it is quite hard to make a notional syllabus seem real, achievable and motivating to students."
Abbs, B. and Freebairn, I. (1979). Building Strategies. Harlow: Longman.
Howatt, A. P. R. and Widdowson, H.G. (2004). A History of English Language Teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Van Ek, J.K. and Trim J. (1998) Threshold 1990. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Wilkins, D.A. (1976). Notional Syllabuses. Oxford: Oxford University Press.