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An Overview of Syllabuses in English Language Teaching William Hall ESL 501
What is the definition of Syllabus? In Wilkins’(1981) words, syllabuses are “specifications of the content of language teaching which have been submitted to some degree of structuring or ordering with the aim of making teaching and learning a more effective process.” “a plan or what is to be achieved through our teaching and our student’s learning.”(Breen, 1984)
Syllabus definition part 2 function of a syllabus is “to specify what is to be taught and in what order.” (Prabhu, 1984) “a summary of the content to which learners will be exposed.”(Yalden, 1987)
Syllabus definition part 3 “social constructions, produced interdependently in classrooms by teachers and learners…They are concerned with the specification and planning of what is to be learned, frequently set down in some written form as prescriptions for action by teachers and learners.” (Candlin, 1984)
Syllabuses in ELT Procedural syllabus Cultural syllabus Situational syllabus Skill-based syllabus Structural or formal syllabus Multi-dimensional syllabus Task-based syllabus Process syllabus Learner-led syllabus Proportional syllabus Content-based syllabus Notional/functional syllabus Lexical syllabus
Procedural Syllabus Structure can be best learned when attention is concentrated on meaning Focus is on the learner Tasks and activities are designed but not the linguistic content Learner focuses on trying to solve the meaning behind the text
Cultural Syllabus Based on learner’s own country Requiring teacher to have knowledge of student’s culture Goals to develop interest, curiosity and empathy for cultures Emphasis on socio-cultural implications of language usage
Situational Syllabus Based on real life situations, such as going to the dentist, seeing a movie, meeting a new student Content of language is based on such situations. Learners find meaning from relevant context.
Skill-Based Syllabus Skills are taught that are needed for language competency Specific skills such as pronunciation, grammar and discourse are improved through activities such as: listening to language to find the main idea, writing well-formed paragraphs, and giving lectures.
Structural (Formal) Syllabus Organized along grammatical lines. Focus on outcomes or the product Learner expected to master each structural step while increasing grammar Uses structured, sequenced practice drills
Multi-Dimensional Syllabus Flexible syllabus incorporating elements of other models. Example: a syllabus that includes important functions, reviewing important situations, and teaching specific skills A combination of other models.
Task Based Syllabus Using specific task to achieve a purpose Language is developed through interaction and practice. Task must be relevant to the real world
Process Syllabus Program is designed as the school year takes place Decision to follow a pre-designed content syllabus, or develop an on-going syllabus using alternative assessment, activities and tasks Develops a strong relationship between subject matter, learning, and the contributions of a classroom.
Learner-Led Syllabus Learners engaged in the implementation and design as much as practically possible The hope is that the learner is more motivated due to their awareness of the course and their involvement. Questions on practicality of program as syllabus is guided by learner
Proportional Syllabus Focus is on flexibility and spiral technique of language sequencing leading to the recycling of language. Goal is to develop an overall competence Themes are chosen by the learner Shift from form to interaction. States syllabus has to indicate what will be taught, rather than what will be learned
Content-Based Syllabus Goal is to teach specific information and content using the language that learners are learning. Subject matter is primary, and language learning happens concurrently. For example, in a chemistry class, linguistic adjustments are made to make the chemistry more understandable.
Notional/Functional Syllabus Focus is on the communicative purpose and the conceptual meaning of language. Calls for needs analysis to establish objectives Functions such as inviting, requesting, agreeing, apologizing are taught. Notions such as age, color, size, comparison, time, etc.
Lexical Syllabus Firmly based on real language. Use of the commonest words and phrases and their meanings Learning the patterns of language Language is carefully selected for the learner to analyze by themselves.