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UNDERLYING PRINCIPLES OF SYLLABUS DESIGN IN ENGLISH LANGUAGE TEACHING

INTRODUCTION

A language teaching syllabus involves the integration of subject matter (what to talk about) and linguistic matter (how to talk about it); that is, the actual matter that makes up teaching. Choices of syllabi can range from the more or less purely linguistic, where the content of instruction is the grammatical and lexical forms of the language, to the purely semantic or informational, where the content of instruction is some skill or information and only incidentally the form of the language. To design a syllabus is to decide what gets taught and in what order. For this reason, the theory of language explicitly or implicitly underlying the language teaching method will play a major role in determining what syllabus is adopted. Theory of learning also plays an important part in determining the kind of syllabus used. For example, a syllabus based on the theory of learning espoused by cognitive code teaching would emphasize language forms and whatever explicit descriptive knowledge about those forms was presently available. A syllabus based on an acquisition theory of learning, however, would emphasize unanalyzed, though possibly carefully selected experiences of the new language in an appropriate variety of discourse types.

The choice of a syllabus is a major decision in language teaching, and it should be made as consciously and with as much information as possible. There has been much confusion over the years as to what different types of content are possible in language teaching syllabi and as to whether the differences are in syllabus or method. Several distinct types of language teaching syllabi exist, and these different types may be implemented in various teaching situations.

THE DISCUSSION

1. The meaning of syllabus

Widowson (1984), and Brumfit (1984) point out that “ a syllabus is a practical thing or a public statement which is based on concepts of language, language learning, and language use”.

Dubin and Olshtin (1992: 28) give detailed description on what syllabus is. The point out that syllabus is a document which ideally describes:

  • What learners are expected to know at the end of the course, or course objectives in operational terms?
  • What is to be taught or learned during the course? (in the form of inventory items)
  • When it is to be taught, and at what rate of progress? (relating the inventory of items to the different levels and stages as well as to the time constrains of the course)
  • How it is to be taught, suggesting procedures, techniques, and materials?
  • How it is to be evaluated, suggesting testing and evaluating mechanism?

 

2. Type of syllabus design and its underlying theory

a. Structural/grammatical (formal) syllabus

This syllabus is based on Classical Humanism approach. In classical humanism tradition, the content is a cultural heritage that is knowledge which has been identified and agreed to be universal, unchanging, and absolute.

The purposes of this syllabus are to transmit knowledge of the language system to the learners and to ensure that they master the grammar and vocabulary of the language.

The teaching procedures and learning experiences will include drilling of grammatically correct sentences, explanation of theory and memorization of lists of vocabulary.

The assessment is based on the learner’s ability to produce grammatically accurate language.

The content of language teaching is a collection of the forms and structures, usually grammatical, of the language being taught. Examples include nouns, verbs, adjectives, statements, questions, subordinate clauses, and so on.

The weakness of this type is its aim for the elite. Its aim is to teach the entire system regardless the fact that not all parts of the system is useful for all learners.

b. Notional/functional syllabus

This syllabus based on Reconstructionism approach. Reconstructionism places its emphasis on objectives. The main purpose of education is to bring about some kind of social change. In this system, practical aspects of education are the first priority.

The objective of this program is “on the social function of language as the central unit of organization”.

The role of the teacher is a model of native speaker to be imitated and as organizer and manager of learning experiences predetermined in advance.

Finney (1996:5) shows us the special attraction of this syllabus which provides three characteristics:

· Clarity of the goal

The objectives of a learning program are clear to both learners-teacher, which facilitates the selection of learning materials and activities.

· Ease of evaluation

Where there are clearly specific objectives of the success of the learners and the program can be easily evaluated to some extent that the objectives have been fulfilled.

· Accountability

In both formal and informal sectors, the model provides clear method for needs identification, establishing learning purpose, and providing measurable products of the educational program.

 

The content of the language teaching is a collection of the functions that are performed when language is used, or of the notions that language is used to express. Examples of functions include: informing, agreeing, apologizing, requesting; examples of notions include size, age, color, comparison, time, and so on.

The weakness of notional syllabus is inadequate to cater all the learners’ need to learn. It is not easy task to formularize what language function the learners are likely to communicate.

c. Situational syllabus

This syllabus is based on Progressivism approach. Progressivism places its emphasis on methodology and learning process. The purpose of education is to enable the individual to progress towards self-fulfillment; it is concerned with the development of understanding, not just the passive reception of knowledge or the acquisition of specific skill.

The model is concerned with learners who are responsible for their own learning. Learners are seen as active participants who build their own learning.

The teacher role is as facilitators of learning, and as negotiator of lesson content and process. They are also responders to their learners’ need and encouragers of their learners’ responsibility.

The content of language teaching is a collection of real or imaginary situations in which language occurs or is used. A situation usually involves several participants who are engaged in some activity in a specific setting. The language occurring in the situation involves a number of functions, combined into a plausible segment of discourse. The primary purpose of a situational language teaching syllabus is to teach the language that occurs in the situations. Examples of situations include: seeing the dentist, complaining to the landlord, buying a book at the book store, meeting a new student, and so on.

The weakness of this syllabus is that it seems difficult to implement since the situation itself is difficult to define.

d. Mixed Syllabus

It is a syllabus that integrated aspects of all the three mentioned syllabuses. This integrated model is attempted to synthesize the content-oriented model, the objective-oriented model and the process-oriented model. It is also called “a proportional syllabus”.

According to Yalden (in Finney, 1996:10), there are three principles which can form syllabus design, namely:

· A view of how a language is learned which would result in a structure-grammar-based syllabus.

· A view of how a language is acquired which would result in a process-based syllabus or functional-based syllabus.

· A view of how a language is used which result in situational syllabus.

This syllabus includes all levels all the time but the emphasis changes at different stages of learning. It consist three components: the structural, functional, and experimental.

The learning process ultimately depends on the interaction between the teacher and the learners in the classroom, and on the teaching approaches, activities, materials and procedures employed by the teacher.

Teachers must be reflective, analytic, creative, and open to new methods and new ideas.

3. Choosing and integrating syllabi

Although the four types of syllabus content are defined here in isolated contexts, it is rare for one type of syllabus or content to be used exclusively in actual teaching settings. Syllabi or content types are usually combined in more or less integrated ways, with one type as the organizing basis around which the others are arranged and related. In discussing syllabus choice and design, it should be kept in mind that the issue is not which type to choose but which types, and how to relate them to each other.

 

4. Practical guidelines to syllabus choice and design

It is clear that no single type of content is appropriate for all teaching settings, and the needs and conditions of each setting are so idiosyncratic that specific recommendations for combination are not possible. In addition, the process of designing and implementing an actual syllabus warrants a separate volume. Several books are available that address the process of syllabus design and implementation both practically and theoretically. These books can help language course designers make decisions for their own programs. However, a set of guidelines for the process is provided below.

Ten steps in preparing a practical language teaching syllabus:

  1. Determine, to the extent possible, what outcomes are desired for the students in the instructional program. That is, as exactly and realistically as possible, defines what the students should be able to do as a result of the instruction.
  2. Rank the syllabus types presented here as to their likelihood of leading to the outcomes desired. Several rankings may be necessary if outcomes are complex.
  3. Evaluate available resources in expertise (for teaching, needs analysis, materials choice and production, etc.), in materials, and in training for teachers.
  4. Rank the syllabi relative to available resources. That is, determine what syllabus types would be the easiest to implement given available resources.
  5. Compare the lists made under No. 2 and 4. Making as few adjustments to the earlier list as possible, produce a new ranking based on the resources’ constraints.
  6. Repeat the process, taking into account the constraints contributed by teacher and student factors described earlier.
  7. Determine a final ranking, taking into account all the information produced by the earlier steps.
  8. Designate one or two syllabus types as dominant and one or two as secondary.
  9. Review the question of combination or integration of syllabus types and determine how combinations will be achieved and in what proportion.
  10. Translate decisions into actual teaching units.

 

5. Example of syllabus

SYLLABUS

  • Study Program : English
  • Course Code : 1062020
  • Course : Pronunciation and Phonetics
  • Credit hours : 2
  • Prerequisite Unit : None
  • Semester : 1

Course Description :

This course is designed to help the students to speak English clearly and comfortably engage in authentic conversations. The students will be given the opportunity to acquire knowledge and understanding the production of sounds, and to acquire the skills necessary to describe, define and transcribe consonants, vowels and certain non-segmental features. The course also includes the distribution of sounds in English and fundamental concepts related to contrast and meaning in sound contrast. At the end of the course, the students are introduced to characteristics sound patterns of various accents of English.

Standard Competency

The students are able to:

- develop knowledge of the process of speech production

- develop an understanding of producing and classifying speech sounds

- develop the knowledge of sound patterns of various English accents

- recognize phonetics transcription and produce the English speech sounds well

- acquire self-monitoring and self-correcting skills for problem areas

- use English-English dictionary effectively

 

Basic Competencies

Indicators

Learning experiences

Teaching Materials

Time

Tools/Teaching aids/Resources

Evaluations

To understand the differences in rules and pattern between English sounds, spelling, and pronunciation

The students are able to:

1. explain the differences between English sounds and spelling

2. apply the rules and patterns of English spelling and pronunciation in context

1. To discuss English spelling system

2. To discuss regular features of English pronunciation and spelling

3. To discuss examples of regular features of English pronunciation and spelling

Spelling and pronunciation:

- The English spelling system

- Regular features of English pronunciation and spelling

100

OHP, LCD, Notebook, Standard English-English Dictionary, Kelly, G. How to teach pronunciation. 2004: 122-125

quiz

To recognize English sounds and how to produce them

The students are able to:

1. explain the individual sounds of English

2. explain the process of how sounds are made

1. To analyze the individual sounds of English

2. To discuss the English speech production process

Individual sounds of English:

- How speech sounds are made

- Consonants and vowels

100

OHP, LCD, Notebook, Standard English-English Dictionary, Kelly, G. How to teach pronunciation. 2004: 1-9

quiz

To understand the parameters in producing English consonants: phonetic transcription and the rules of production

The students are able to:

1. explain the concepts of describing English consonants

2. describe English consonants

3. to produce English consonants correctly

4. to produce phonetic transcription for English consonants correctly

1. To discuss the description of English consonants

2. To listen to sample of speech containing English consonants

3. To practice producing English consonants correctly

4. To practice transcribing English consonants

The description of English consonants:

- place of articulation

- manner of articulation

- voicing

- Phonetic symbol for consonants

200

OHP, LCD, Notebook, Standard English-English Dictionary, Kelly, G. How to teach pronunciation. 2004: 47-53

quiz

To understand the parameters of English vowels, phonetic transcription, and the rules of production

The students are able to:

1. explain the concepts of describing English vowels

2. describe English vowels

3. to produce English vowels correctly

4. to produce phonetic transcription for English vowels correctly

1. To discuss the description of English vowels

2. To listen to sample of speech containing English vowels

3. To practice producing English vowels

4. To practice transcribing English vowels

The description of English vowels:

- Tongue height

- Frontness /backness of tongue

- Tenseness /Laxness

- Lip rounding

- Phonetic symbols for vowels

- Diphthongs

100

OHP, LCD, Notebook, Standard English-English Dictionary, Kelly, G. How to teach pronunciation.

29-36

quiz

To understand the way of pronouncing English sounds in context:

based on the pronunciation rules for grammatical endings, its application in context

The students are able to:

1. produce English sounds in positional variation correctly

2. explain the pronunciation rules of grammatical endings

3. to pronounce words with grammatical endings correctly

4. to produce phonetic transcription correctly

1. To listen to sample of speech containing contrastive and non-contrastive English sounds

2. To discuss the rules of contrastive and non-contrastive English sounds

3. To practice pronouncing contrastive and non-contrastive English sounds

4. To listen to sample of speech containing grammatical endings

5. To discuss the rules of pronouncing grammatical endings

6. To practice pronouncing grammatical endings

7. To practice producing phonetic transcription

English sounds in context:

- Positional variation: contrastive and non-contrastive sounds of English

- Grammatical endings: the regular past tense, the plural, possessive, and third person singular

100

OHP, LCD, Notebook, Standard English-English Dictionary, Lane, L. 2005. Focus on Pronunciation 2. Unit 13 and unit 19

quiz

To understand the concept of syllable structure and syllable types: by recognizing the consonant cluster and applying the rules of pronouncing the consonant cluster correctly

The students are able to:

1. explain the concept of syllable structure

2. give examples of each syllable types

3. give examples of consonant clusters

4. to pronounce consonant cluster correctly

5. to produce phonetic transcription correctly

1. To discuss the syllable structure

2. To discuss the example of syllable types and consonant cluster

3. To listen to sample of speech containing consonant cluster

4. To discuss the rules of pronouncing consonant clusters

5. To practice pronouncing words containing consonant cluster

6. To practice producing phonetic transcription

Syllable structure:

- syllable types

- consonant cluster

100

OHP, LCD, Notebook, Standard English-English Dictionary,

quiz

To understand the definition stress: being aware of rules of word stress, understanding the differences between major and minor stress, applying the rules of placing word stress correct-ly, and developing strategies to do self-correcting and self- monitoring

The students are able to:

1. explain the definition of stress

2. identify major and minor stress

3. produce the word stress correctly

1. To discuss the definition of stress, major and minor stress

2. To listen to sample of word stress

3. To discuss examples of placement of word stress

4. To discuss the rules of word stress

5. To practice pronouncing word stress correctly

6. To record students’ pronunciation

7. To evaluate the students’ recordings

8. To correct the students’ pronunciation

- Word stress and vowel reduction:

- What is stress?

- Major and minor stress

- Placement of word stress

100

OHP, LCD, Notebook, Standard English-English Dictionary,

quiz

To understand the rules of sentence stress: in application and developing strategies to do self-monitoring and self-correcting

The students are able to:

1. explain the definition of sentence stress and tonic syllable

2. identify sentence stress and weak forms stress

3. give examples of sentence stress

4. produce sentence stress correctly

1. To discuss the definition of sentence and tonic syllable

2. To listen to sample of sentence stress and weak forms

3. To practice pronouncing sentence stress and weak forms

4. To record students’ pronunciation

5. To evaluate the students’ recordings

6. To correct the students’ pronunciation

Sentence stress:

- sentence stress and tonic syllable

- sentence stress and weak forms

- raising awareness of word and sentence stress

100

OHP, LCD, Notebook, Standard English-English Dictionary,

quiz

To understand the points in defining intonation: being aware of the connection between grammar and intonation, attitude and intonation, discourse and intonation

The students are able to:

1. explain the definition of intonation

2. identify the link between grammar and intonation, attitude and intonation, discourse and intonation

3. give examples of grammar and intonation, attitude and intonation, discourse and intonation

4. produce intonation correctly

1. To listen to sample of speech focusing on intonation

2. To discuss the rules of pronouncing intonation

3. To practice pronouncing intonation

4. To record students’ pronunciation

5. To evaluate the students’ recordings

6. To correct the students’ pronunciation

Intonation:

- What is intonation?

- Grammar and intonation

- Attitude and intonation

- Discourse and intonation

100

OHP, LCD, Notebook, Standard English-English Dictionary,

quiz

To understand the points in defining linking and intrusion, assimilation and in applying them

The students are able to:

1. explain the definition of linking and intrusion, assimilation

2. give examples of linking and intrusion, assimilation

3. produce linking and intrusion, assimilation correctly

1. To discuss the definition of linking and intrusion, assimilation

2. To listen to sample of linking and intrusion, assimilation

3. To practice pronouncing linking and intrusion, assimilation

4. To record students’ pronunciation

5. To evaluate the students’ recordings

6. To correct the students’ pronunciation

Connected speech:

- Linking and intrusion

- Assimilation

100

OHP, LCD, Notebook, Standard English-English Dictionary,

quiz

To understand the points in defining elision, juncture, and contraction and in its application

The students are able to:

1. explain the definition of elision, juncture, contraction

2. give examples of elision, juncture, contraction

3. produce linking and intrusion, assimilation correctly

1. To discuss the definition of elision, juncture, contraction

2. To listen to sample of elision, juncture, contraction

3. To practice pronouncing elision, juncture, contraction

4. To record students’ pronunciation

5. To evaluate the students’ recordings

6. To correct the students’ pronunciation

Connected speech:

- Elision

- Juncture

- Contraction

100

OHP, LCD, Notebook, Standard English-English Dictionary,

quiz

To identify common pronunciation errors: by developing strategy to correct the errors

The students are able to :

1. give examples of common pronunciation errors

2. make correction

1. To discuss the examples of pronunciation errors

2. To discuss the strategies to correct the errors

Common pronunciation errors:

- English vowels

- English consonants

- Stress, rhythm, intonation

100

OHP, LCD, Notebook, Standard English-English Dictionary,

quiz

To be aware of the differentiating English accents by identifying various English accents

The students are able to :

1. identify the characteristics of various English accents

2. understand the speech produced by speakers of different English varieties

1. To watch movies containing different accent of English

2. To discuss the characteristics of different English accents

3. To discuss potential difficulties in comprehending different English accents

4. To discuss possible strategies to overcome the difficulties

Accents of English:

- RP

- General American

- Australian

- Indian

100

OHP, LCD, Notebook, Standard English-English Dictionary,

quiz

 

C. CONCLUSION

In general this paper is intended to present models or type of syllabus and the philosophy or values underlying the design of syllabus. There are three main streams of value system underlying the design of syllabus, namely: (1) Classical Humanism which underpins the Grammatical Syllabus. (2) Reconstructionism which underpins the Notional Syllabus. (3) Progressivism which underpins the Situational Syllabus.

In making practical decisions about syllabus design, one must take into consideration all the possible factors that might affect the teach ability of a particular syllabus. By starting with an examination of each syllabus type, tailoring the choice and integration of the different types according to local needs, one may find a principled and practical solution to the problem of appropriateness and effectiveness in syllabus design.

Having observed the weakness of each type of syllabus has, a Mixed-Focused Syllabus is proposed. Allen formulates it as the variable focus syllabus. This is likely a blend of all three. This is suggested to be the most realistic model.

BY:

ARDIKA RIZKY SAPUTRI

A 320060313

ENGLISH DEPARTMENT

SCHOOL OF TEACHER TRAINING AND EDUCATION

MUHAMMADIYAH UNIVERSITY OF SURAKARTA

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4 thoughts on “UNDERLYING PRINCIPLES OF SYLLABUS DESIGN IN ENGLISH LANGUAGE TEACHING

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  1. Thank you miss saputri, its worth for me

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