Find and present information 1.6.



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Find and present information 1.6.



Find and present the information about these organisations:

  1. EUROCALL (Europe)
  2. CALICO (USA)
  3. SIGs within CALICO
  4. Natural Language Processing (NLP)
  5. Intelligent CALL (ICALL)

MODULE 2. Syllabus Design and Curriculum Development

Unit 2.1.From National Curriculum to a Coursebook Unit

Terminology to Study 2.1.

Choose 2- 3 terms and work out Word Map in Visual Thesaurus Style. For reference you might resort to A Handbook of English-Russian Terminology for Language Teaching


Curriculum

National Curriculum

Course

Programme

Course design/Programme design

Syllabus

Sylabus design

Threshold Level

Subject

Unit


 

Lead-in 2.1.

Do you know what the notion Threshold level implies? If not, read and find out.

Do you know any other ways to denote the level of language competence?  

  What are they?

In the mid 1970s the Council of Europe's experts developed a specification in operational terms first of what a learner should be able to DO when using the language independently for communication in a country in which that language is the vehicle of communication in everyday life, and then of the necessary knowledge and skills.

The initial Threshold level specification for English provided the basic models which have been adapted for other languages in the light of their particular linguistic situation, and further developed in the light of experience.

The model has been extremely influential in the planning of language programmes, providing a basis for new national curricula, more interesting and attractive textbooks, popular multimedia courses and more realistic and relevant forms of assessment.

In order to meet the teaching and certification requirements, the level concept as defined was extended to cover specification of levels lying immediately below and above the threshold level. In the light of the developments in this field, particularly as regards the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), some of which emerged at around the same time as the latter, other levels were formulated for a number of languages, paying particular attention, for instance, to socio-cultural components or learner autonomy, by pinpointing a possible definition for the concept of “learning to learn”.

A lower level (Waystage) was created for English, as was a level situated above the threshold, also starting with English (Vantage Level). Other language versions then followed. The three ascending level descriptions (Waystage, Threshold and Vantage) provided a basis for designing programmes and producing multimedia courses and were developed in parallel with the CEFR. These proficiency levels constitute one of the origins of the six-level scale of the CEFR.

Read and Discuss 2.1.

Read the text and speak about advantages and disadvantages of these types of syllabi:

1) for students different levels of language proficiency (Elementary, Pre-intermediate, Intermediate, Upper-Intermediate, Advanced);

2) for young learners and adult learners;

For professionals to communicate in academic communities, for those who need language for private communication (with friends, guests etc.)

Syllabuses in ELT

Syllabi are not totally distinct from each other. All actual language teaching syllabuses are integrated product of two or more of the types of syllabi presented here. In other words, although different language teaching syllabuses are introduced here as though each can be employed on its own, in practice, these syllabuses rarely occur independently of each other. For a particular course, one type of syllabus usually dominates, while other types of content might be integrated with it. For instance, there is minimal distinction between the skill-based and task-based syllabuses. In fact, the way in which the instructional content is employed in the real teaching procedure is the determining element in choosing a syllabus. The characteristics, advantages, and disadvantages of individual syllabuses are investigated in a nutshell as follows.

 

A procedural syllabus

 

The procedural syllabus was proposed by Prabhu (1980). Prabhu’s 'Bangalore Project' was based on the premise that structure can be best learned when attention is concentrated on meaning. The focus shifts from the linguistic aspect to the pedagogical one focusing on learning or the learner. The tasks and activities are designed and planned in advance but not the linguistic content. In this syllabus tasks are graded conceptually and grouped by similarity. Within such a framework the selection, ordering and grading of content is not so much considerable for the syllabus designer. Arranging the course around tasks such as information- and opinion-gap activities helps the learner perceive the language subconsciously while consciously focusing on solving the meaning behind the tasks.

A cultural syllabus

 

Stern (1992) introduces ‘cultural syllabus’ to be incorporated into second/foreign language education. There are many challenges regarding defining the concept of culture. Seelye (1984:26) refused to define culture, calling it ‘a broad concept that embraces all aspects of the life of man’, and Brown (1994) calls it the “glue” that binds a group of people together. In order to have a better understanding of the term culture, Stern (1992:208) suggests that writers ‘have tried to reduce the vast and amorphous nature of the culture concept to manageable proportions by preparing lists of items or by indicating a few broad categories’. Stern keeps on by discounting such lists as presented by Brooks and Chastain as providing only ‘cultural titbits’. Nostrand’s (1978) emergent model is praised by Stern as an attempt to overcome this, as is Seelye’s observation that all of mankind have the same needs, and that different groups will satisfy these needs in different ways, as this gives a viewpoint for studying culture. However, Stern also implies that although both Nostrand’s and Seelye’s work give a viewpoint, they are difficult to be put in practice. Hammerly (1982) suggests a mix of anthropological culture and classical culture. He highlights three areas, i.e. information culture, behavioural culture and achievement culture. Stern believes this to be valuable, but claims that it does not solve the problem of the range of cultural topics.

 

Believing in the fact that there is a consensus on the objectives of teaching culture, Stern (1992) indicates that aims should be:

 

· A research-minded outlook

· The learner’s own country

· Knowledge about the target culture

· Affective goals; interest, intellectual curiosity, and empathy.

· Awareness of its characteristics and of differences between the target culture

· Emphasis on the understanding socio-cultural implications of language and language use

A situational syllabus

 

With this type of syllabus, the essential component of organization is a non-linguistic category, i.e. the situation. The underlying premise is that language is related to the situational contexts in which it occurs. The designer of a situational syllabus tries to predict those situations in which the learner will find him/herself, and applies these situations, for instance; seeing the dentist, going to the cinema and meeting a new student, as a basis for selecting and presenting language content. The content of language teaching is a collection of real or imaginary situations in which language occurs or is used. A situation usually includes several participants who are involved in some activity in a particular setting. The language used in the situation comprises a number of functions combined into a plausible part of available discourse. The main principle of a situational language teaching syllabus is to teach the language that occurs in the situations.

In this syllabus, situational needs are important rather than grammatical units. The major organizing feature is a list of situations which reflects the way language and behavior are used everyday outside the classroom. Thus, by connecting structural theory to situations the learner is able to induce the meaning from a relevant context. One advantage of the situational approach is that motivation will be heightened since it is "learner- rather than subject-centered" (Wilkins.1976: 16).

Exercises 2.1.



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