Course Planning -
by Emma Worrell
Determining goals and objectives
Nunan (1988: 61) describes goals as general
statements about the long term purposes of a course. These
can be achieved by asking the students why they are learning
the language. Objectives are more short term, concrete ideas
of how we can achieve the goals. These can be achieved the
syllabus designer "through a process of introspecting
on the sorts of communicative purposes for which language
is used" (Nunan 1988: 79) Breen (1987: 167) describes
the process syllabus as involving "teachers and learners
in a cycle of decision-making through which their own preferred
ways of working, their own on-going content syllabus, and
their choices of appropriate activities and tasks are realised
in the classroom". The main objective for this course
is to describe the goals (as objectives are connected to what
happens in class). The goals I propose are meant only as the
purpose of the planned short term course. However, they will
be extended as the students' course progresses until June.
Nunan (1988: 25) describes four areas of necessary
Encouraging learners to develop confidence in using the target
language by; maintaining their motivation and interest; ensuring
that the students feel that they are making progress; creating
a supportive and comfortable atmosphere in the class.
Developing the ability to assess their learning styles.
Training the students in skill areas, learning lexis and recording
new lexis, grammar concepts and phrasal verbs. Developing
strategies for the FCE. Developing students' ability to notice
discourse features and later apply them to their work. Introducing
peer correction activities in the class to encourage reflection
of their work.
Establishing and maintaining relationships through exchanging
information, ideas, opinions, attitudes, feelings, experiences,
and plans by; giving students the opportunity to develop their
oral fluency and accuracy; giving plenty of listening practice;
developing students' writing competence.
Developing skills in monitoring performance in spoken language
by; making the students aware of their interlanguage and the
reformulation of fossilised language; expanding the students'
lexical knowledge (especially with colloquial language).
I have tried to incorporate all of these concepts
in my syllabus design. it should be noted that most of these
are incorporated in the FCE book as exercises but there is
little information aimed at teachers in the teacher's book
on how to achieve these concepts which means that the teacher
has to be careful to train the students systematically and
not overload them with to many techniques from the beginning.
It is important to remember that, as the course
book limits flexibility with the choice of materials (not
so much the sequencing of materials), a course of this kind
needs a good balance between work on exam practice and strategies
and more general work on developing communicative competence
and other general learning strategies. Also, we must consider
students preferred requests over material they want to cover
and material which is less popular but still necessary. Finally,
a comprehensive syllabus should contain a balance between
"product" and "process" (Nunan 1988: 71).
'Product' means "what learners will be able to do as
a result of instruction" ("the ends") or what
students will be able to do at the end of the course which
they could not do before. 'Process' means " activities
designed to develop the skills needed to carry out the product
objectives" ("the means") or the way learning
is organised (Nunan 1988: 70-71). With this course the processes
can be seen as the content of the course book, subject to
modification, the use of extra, authentic materials and covering
areas such as pronunciation, and includes the atmosphere of
the class which will help achieve many of the goals. The product
can be seen as the students goal to sit the exam and pass
the five papers required ( see appendix 7). However, we must
remember that there is a limit to the extent the syllabus
can achieve its goals. Breen (1987: 159) says
"A syllabus can only have, at best, an indirect influence
language learning. It is meditated by teaching and the encircling
classroom content within which instruction is only one element.
it is further mediated by learners' participation in classroom
and by their own interpretation of appropriate objectives
for language learning."
While Breen's process based syllabus, where
the content and methodology are negotiated, is prohibited
by the final goals of the course (the exam) certain elements
can be incorporated. The learners' lesson comments facilitated
negotiation by enabling the students to reflect on what was
really necessary for them to study and to decide the weight
needed for the activities (this was further enhanced by peer
correction and group activities where students could compare
and learn from each others' work).
Selecting and developing materials
The FCE Gold course book
was inevitably the main source of content, an attempt was
made to include other materials, such as writing exercises
from other sources, authentic listenings such as radio news
reports, and speaking activities from conversation files related
to topics and themes in the course book to keep student interest
and maintain motivation.
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