TESOL 109 - The Skills-based Syllabus Design

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This is my presentation in TESOL 109 (Language Material Preparation and Evaluation. It includes a discussion of what a skills-based syllbus is, its advantages and disadvantages, an ennumeration of the …

This is my presentation in TESOL 109 (Language Material Preparation and Evaluation. It includes a discussion of what a skills-based syllbus is, its advantages and disadvantages, an ennumeration of the different microskills for each macroskill, a sample skills-based English language program.

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  • 1. Philippine Normal University Taft Avenue, Manila National Center for Teacher Education College of Languages, Linguistics, and Literature DEPARTMENT OF ENGLISH TESOL 109 – Language Material Preparation and Evaluation SKILL-BASED SYLLABUS Characteristics of a Skill-based Syllabus(Railley, 1988) - Skills are things that people must be able to do to be competent in a language, relatively independently of the situation or setting in which the language use can occur. - The content of the skill-based language teaching is a collection of specific abilities that may play a part in using language. - The primary objective of a skill-based instruction is to teach a specific language skill, such as listening for gist, using proper intonation contours, reading for the main idea, or using cohesive devices in writing. - These specific skills are immersed with specific linguistic competencies, such as pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar, and discourse. - The skills-based approach drew its theoretical roots from behavioral psychology and structural linguistics. Specifically, it is based on the following principles: (a) The whole is equal to the sum of its parts; (b) There are differences between spoken and written language; (c) Oral language acquisition precedes the development of literacy; (d) Language learning is teacher-directed and fact-oriented; (e) Student errors are just like 'sins' which should be eliminated at all cost. - Advocates of the skill-based approach view language as a collection of separate skills. Each skill is divided into subskills (micro and macro skills). - These subskills are gradually taught in a predetermined sequence through direct explanation, modeling and repetition. - The mastery of these skills are constantly measured using discrete- point tests before learning a new one.
  • 2. Language Skills (Brown, 1998) Listening Microskills 1. Discriminate among the distinctive sounds of English. 2. Retain chunks of language of different lengths in short-term memory. 3. Recognize English stress patterns, words in stressed and unstressed positions, rhythmic structure, intonation contours, and their role in signaling information. 4. Recognize reduced forms of words. 5. Distinguish word boundaries, recognize a core of words, and interpret word order patterns and their significance. 6. Process speech at different rates of delivery. 7. Process speech containing pauses, errors, corrections, and other performance variables. 8. Recognize grammatical word classes (nouns, verbs, etc.) systems (e.g., tense, agreement, pluralization), patterns, rules, elliptical forms. 9. Detect sentence constituents and distinguish between major and minor constituents. 10. Recognize that a particular meaning may be expressed in different constituents. 11. Recognize cohesive devices in spoken discourse. Macroskills 1. Recognize the communicative functions of utterances, according to situations, participants, goals. 2. Infer situations, participants, goals using real-world language. 3. From events, ideas, and so on, described, predict outcomes, infer, links, and connections between events, deduce cause and effects, and detect such relations as main idea, supporting idea, new information, given information, generalization, and exemplification. 4. Distinguish between literal and applied meanings. 5. Use facial, kinesic, body language, and other non-verbal clues to decipher meanings. 6. Develop and use a battery of listening strategies, such as detecting key words, guessing the meaning of words from context, appealing for help, and signaling comprehension of lack thereof. Speaking Microskills 1. Produce differences among English phonemes and allophonic variants 2. Produce chunks of language of different lengths. 3. Produce English stress patterns, words in stressed and unstressed positions, rhythmic structure, and intonation contours. 4. Produce reduced forms of words and phrases. 5. Use an adequate number of lexical units (words) to accomplish pragmatic purposes. 6. Produce fluent speech at different rates of delivery. 7. Monitor one's own oral production and use various strategic devices (pauses, fillers, self-correctors, backtracking) to enhance the clarity of the message. 8. Use grammatical word classes (nouns, verbs, etc.) systems (tense, agreement, pluralization), word order, pattern, rules, and elliptical forms. 9. Produce speech in natural constituents: in appropriate phrases, pause groups, breath groups, and sentence constituents. 10. Express particular meaning in different grammatical forms. 11. Use cohesive devices in spoekn discourse. Macroskills 1. Appropriately accomplish communicative functions according to situations, participants, and goals. 2. Use appropriate styles, registers, implicature, redundancies, pragmatic conventions, conversation rules, floor- keeping and yielding, interrupting, and other sociolinguistic features in face-to-face conversations. 3. Convey links and connections between events and communicate such relations as focal and peripheral ideas, events and feelings, new information and given information, generalization and exemplification. 4. Convey facial features, kinesics, body language, and other nonverbal cues along with verbal language. 5. Develop and use a battery of speaking strategies such as emphasizing key words, rephrasing, providing a context for interpreting the meaning of words, appealing for help, and accurately assessing how well your interlocutor is understanding you.
  • 3. Reading Microskills 1. Discriminate among the distinctive graphemes and orthographic patterns of English 2. Retain chunks of language of different lengths in short-term memory. 3. Process writing at an efficient rate of speed to suit the purpose. 4. Recognize a core of words, and interpret word order patterns and their significance. 5. Recognize grammatical word classes(nouns, verbs, etc.), systems (e.g., tense, agreement, pluralization), patterns, rules, and elliptical forms. 6. Recognize that a particular meaning may be expressed in different grammatical forms. 7. Recognize cohesive devices in written discourse and their role in signalling the relationship between and among clauses. Macroskills 1. Recognize the rhetorical forms of written discourse and their significance for interpretation. 2. Recognize the communicative functions of written texts, according, to form and purpose. 3. Infer context that is not explicit by using background knowledge. 4. From described events, ideas, etc., infer links and connections between events, deduce causes and effects, and detect such relations as main idea, supporting idea, new information, given information, generalization, and exemplification. 5. Distinguish between literal and implied meanings. 6. Detect culturally specific references and interpret then in context of the appropriate cultural schemata. 7. Develop and use a battery of reading strategies, such as scanning and skimming, detecting discourse markers, guessing the meaning of the words from context, and activating schemata for the interpretation of texts. Writing Microskills 1. Produce graphemes and orthographic patterns of English 2. Produce writing at an efficient rate of speed to suit the purpose. 3. Produce an acceptable core of words and use appropriate word order patterns. 4. Use acceptable grammatical systems (e.g., tense, agreement, pluralization), patterns, and rules. 5. Express a particular meaning in different grammatical forms. 6. Use cohesive devices in written discourse. Macroskills 1. Use the rhetorical forms and conventions of written discourse. 2. Appropriately accomplish the communicative functions of written texts according to form and purpose. 3. Convey links and connections between events, and communicate such relations as main idea, supporting idea, new information, given information, generalization, and exemplification. 4. Distinguish between literal and implied meaning when writing. 5. Correctly convey culturally specific references in the context of the written text. 6. Develop and use battery of writing strategies, such as accurately assessing the audience's interpretation, using prewriting devices, writing with fluency in the first drafts, using paraphrases, and synonyms soliciting peer and instructor feedback, using feedback revising and editing. Evaluation of the Skill-Based Approach (El-Khoumy, 2002) Strengths a. Teaching a language is smaller and isolated skills makes it easier for the learner to acquire. b. It reduces students' errors. c. It is easy to implement because it is systematic and the instructional materials are graded. Weaknesses a. There is still discrepancy between how a language is taught and how it is actually used for communication. b. It demotivates the learner to study the language because what is taught to them may not sound relevant and uninteresting. c. Teaching language as isolated skills makes it difficult for the learners because the brain cannot store bits of information for a long time. d. It stifles the students creativity.
  • 4. A Sample Skill-based Language Program (Bell, 1998) The Skill-based EAP Program at the British Council in Jakarta Indonesia A pre-departure EAP program is organized at the British Council English Language Center in Jakarta, Indonesia. The program is divided into seven structure, namely: language upgrading, listening, speaking, reading, writing, learner training and study skills, and cultural orientation. An EAP program in the language center lasts from 12 to 24 weeks. Language Upgrading The early weeks of the program focus on language production of the learners concerning the accuracy in their productive skills- speaking and writing. The program begins with a series of diagnostic speaking and writing activities. This is followed by training the learners be sensitive to their mistakes. For writing, the students are introduced to a series of correction symbols. These correction symbols are used as students involved themselves in editing their works as to make them aware of their errors and set priorities for improvement. For speaking, students are trained in speech laboratory classes, in which their voices are recorded and they are given feedbacks about their mistakes. Listening The students are exposed to global and intensive listening activites. They are rained in strategies such as recognizing key words, tolerating uncertainty, recognizing discourse markers etc. The students are trained to listen to different speech situations such as monologues, dialogues, group discussions, lectures, presentations, recorded announcements, messages, and news items from live television. Much of the training emphasizes anticipation and prediction skills, so as to eliminate the learners' fears of non-comprehension and becoming overwhelmed by problems of rapid pace, unfamiliar accents and attitudinal features associated with aspects of pronunciation (particularly stress and intonation). Speaking Speaking activities focus on group discussions based in themes and issues presented through other media, such as written text, audio tape, video or computer (via Internet). Most of the activities are fluency-based and focuses on the quality of argumentation, degree of support, exemplification, opinions expressed articulation of ideas relevant to topics under discussion. Reading Classroom work then focused on skimming and scanning, developing reading speed, intensive reading and building up students' ability to tolerate uncertainty, access background knowledge predict linguistic and rhetorical features of texts and develop interpretation skills. In terms of instructional materials, there has been a shift from reading materials towards fully authentic texts obtained via the Internet, and through exploiting the resources of the British Council Library more exhaustively. Research work based on academic journal articles, books, and other reference publications now forms an integral part of the EAP program. The great advantage of this approach is that it allows pre-departure students to study subject content. Writing Learners start writing at the sentence level then are trained to link concepts using simple conjunctions. They then proceed to work on complex sentences and a wider range of devices, building up to a focus on paragraph structure and content. This formal, structural focus is followed by activities that involves planning, organising ideas, developing, extending and supporting lines of argumentation.
  • 5. Learner Training and Study Skills Students in EAP programs are also trained in the Western university academic culture; co-operative learning, problem solving, group discussions, information exchange, presentations, turn-taking conventions and the like. This is very important for Indonesians since people are socialized into a culture based on teacher-centredness, teacher- directiveness and of course, teacher-dependence. Cultural Orientation Students are also oriented to the target learning environment. The students are introduced to the general aspects of living and studying in Britain, the history of the country, and familiarization towards the target academic culture. Applications of the Skill-based Approach (Rane, Z.A., 2010) − Skill-based instruction is most appropriate when learners need specific skills, and especially when these skills are well-defined and the learners have little need for global language ability. − Basically, skill-based instruction is for Language for Special Purpose (LSP). The example of skill based instruction application is in life skills and immigrants and refugees or language programs preparing students for academic work. − Skill-based instruction is probably more appropriate for adults than for children, for whom emphasis on concrete content is more appropriate. − Skill-based instruction is not appropriate, in large amount, at least, for general purpose or beginning level language programs in which the need of the learners are broad or yet to be defined. In such case, focusing on narrow skill-based applications will take instructional time away from content that is more likely to address their need for overall language proficiency. References Bell, Tim. (1998). A Description of the Skill-based EAP Training Approach for Pre-departure Students at the British Council in Jakarta. The Internet TESL Journal, Vol. IV, No. 9 Sept 1998. Brown, H. D. (2001) Teaching by Principles: An Interactive Approach to Language Pedagogy. New York: Pearson Longman Inc. Reilly, Tarey. (1988). Approaches to Language Syllabus and Design. ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED295460. El-Koumy, A.S. (2002). Teaching and Learning English as a Foreign Language: A Comprehensive Approach. Cairo: Dar-An Nashr for Universities. Rane, Z.A. et. Al. (2010). A Skill-based Syllabus. <http://rumahanthares.blogspot.com/2011/01/skill-based-syllabus.html>
  • 6. Learner Training and Study Skills Students in EAP programs are also trained in the Western university academic culture; co-operative learning, problem solving, group discussions, information exchange, presentations, turn-taking conventions and the like. This is very important for Indonesians since people are socialized into a culture based on teacher-centredness, teacher- directiveness and of course, teacher-dependence. Cultural Orientation Students are also oriented to the target learning environment. The students are introduced to the general aspects of living and studying in Britain, the history of the country, and familiarization towards the target academic culture. Applications of the Skill-based Approach (Rane, Z.A., 2010) − Skill-based instruction is most appropriate when learners need specific skills, and especially when these skills are well-defined and the learners have little need for global language ability. − Basically, skill-based instruction is for Language for Special Purpose (LSP). The example of skill based instruction application is in life skills and immigrants and refugees or language programs preparing students for academic work. − Skill-based instruction is probably more appropriate for adults than for children, for whom emphasis on concrete content is more appropriate. − Skill-based instruction is not appropriate, in large amount, at least, for general purpose or beginning level language programs in which the need of the learners are broad or yet to be defined. In such case, focusing on narrow skill-based applications will take instructional time away from content that is more likely to address their need for overall language proficiency. References Bell, Tim. (1998). A Description of the Skill-based EAP Training Approach for Pre-departure Students at the British Council in Jakarta. The Internet TESL Journal, Vol. IV, No. 9 Sept 1998. Brown, H. D. (2001) Teaching by Principles: An Interactive Approach to Language Pedagogy. New York: Pearson Longman Inc. Reilly, Tarey. (1988). Approaches to Language Syllabus and Design. ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED295460. El-Koumy, A.S. (2002). Teaching and Learning English as a Foreign Language: A Comprehensive Approach. Cairo: Dar-An Nashr for Universities. Rane, Z.A. et. Al. (2010). A Skill-based Syllabus. <http://rumahanthares.blogspot.com/2011/01/skill-based-syllabus.html>