Syllabus: a list of items to be covered in a course / a set of headings. Language syllabus: language elements and linguistic or behavioral skills

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1 Lexical Content and Organisation of a Language Course Syllabus: a list of items to be covered in a course / a set of headings Language syllabus: language elements and linguistic or behavioral skills Who makes the syllabus? 1. Education Ministry (books are then written accordingly) Teachers have no control on the syllabus. 2. A coursebook is chosen from those available in the international market Syllabus of a course=syllabus of the coursebook Teachers have limited control on the syllabus: selection of the coursebook Where can the teachers see the syllabus of their course? 1. Education Ministry s web page 2. The coursebook s contents page (!!!) Zoom (a primary English course for children) We re happy, Let s party!, Can you read Mr Dolphin? Fairyland 2 (for children) A butterfly, A sweet tooth, Looking good 3. Map of the book for teachers 1

2 Language Syllabuses (Item types) Structural syllabuses: grammatical structures (simple present tense, passive voice, reported speech, etc.) e.g. Grammar translation / Audio-lingual Functional syllabuses: functions (requesting, agreeing & disagreeing, apologizing, inviting, etc.) e.g. Communicative Approach Task-based syllabuses: tasks (posting a letter, etc.) Lexical syllabuses: a set of words /lexical skills Lexical syllabus in Headway (1986) Three strands: 1. new words related to topics (e.g. Animals, Air travel, etc.) MWUs (collocations & idioms): (e.g. Make or Do, Multi- Word Verbs 2. Vocabulary learning habits (VLSs) e.g. Using a bilingual dictionary, building vocabulary networks 3.Systems of Vocabulary (patterns) grammar: irregular verbs, -ed and ing adjectives meaning: polysemous words, male and female words pronunciation: homophones, stress in word families Place of a lexical syllabus in integrated courses (listening, reading, writing, speaking taught together in the same unit) Strong view (Sinclair & Renouf, 1988): -purely lexical (lexical syllabus is the only syllabus ) -grammar is not taught (it will automatically follow from study of words in context) Collins COBUILD English Course (Willis & Willis, 1987) Purely lexical syllabus (based on Sinclair & Renouf s ideas) Compared to traditional coursebooks: give as much coverage to the usual grammar items not commercially as successful as other coursebooks -most frequent words/in their frequent context (based on frequency and concordance data from the COBUILD Project) -A large vocabulary is not targeted (recombination of known vocabulary rather than new vocabulary) 2

3 Weaker view (Lewis, 1993) vocabulary is not the only syllabus/ a component in the syllabus alongside other language elements or skills (grammar,functions,etc.) / a more prominent role a large target vocabulary formulaic sequences e.g. collocations, sentence heads discourse functions of lexical items The Cambridge English Course ( ) a multi-syllabus approach / 8 main syllabuses vocabulary grammar pronunciation notions functions situations topics skills Skills-based Courses (vocabulary is taught as a separate skill) Advanced English Vocabulary by Helen Barnard (1972) English Vocabulary in Use by Michael McCarthy & Felicity O Dell (1994) Focus on Vocabulary by Diane Schmitt & Norbert Schmitt (2005) Graded reader schemes (supplementary material): Longman Structural Readers, Oxford Bookworm Series, etc. Components of Course Design 1. Needs Analysis 2. Content specification 3. Sequencing 3

4 Vocabulary Needs Analysis a. Lacks (present state) b.necessities (needs) c.wants (learner preferences) Lacks (present state) What vocabulary do they know? A vocabulary size test (receptive) Vocabulary Levels Test (receptive & productive) Eurocentres Vocabulary Size Test (receptive) What strategies can they use? Strategy knowledge test / questionnaire/observation of performance Necessities (Needs/goals) What vacabulary do they need? type /number of words (high-frequency, academic, technical, low-frequency) Interview / questionnaire to determine language use goals /research on size and coverage e.g. Higher education in an English-speaking university: academic vocabulary / low frequency words Minimum:3000 wfs (Laufer, 1991) Optimal: 10,000 wfs (Hazenberg & Hulstijn, 1996) e.g. Travel to an English-speaking country as a tourist: Survival vocabulary /120 items: (Nation & Crabbe, 1991) e.g. To be able to speak to foreign tourists: GSL words Adolphs & Schmitt (2003) What strategies do they need? Interview / questionnaire to determine language use goals e.g. Higher education in an English-speaking university: (low frequency words) Guessing & effective dictionary skills e.g. Travel to an English-speaking country as a tourist: (Survival vocabulary) Memory strategies 4

5 Wants What vocabulary do they want to learn? Class discussion /Interview / questionnaire to determine areas of interest Psychology Space Sports Celebrities Fashion Etc. Content Specification (Selection of words) (Early Stages/General English) Coursebook / not the teacher does the selection 1. Frequency (of use in the TL) (More frequent words are more useful than less frequent) buy - purchase walk - stroll 2. Range (number of text types) marriage has a wider range than matrimony (religion) 3. Coverage (of meaning) go has a broader coverage than travel / walk 4. Availability (to native speakers) Pepper is lower frequency, but equally available as salt 5. Learnability (ease of learning) cognates / loan words, short words, concrete words, etc. 6. Opportunism (words relevant to immediate situation) classroom words whiteboard: low in frequency, range, coverage English Word Lists GSL : general service words (2000 words) Hindmarsh (1980): Cambridge EFL examinations Waystage English (van Ek et al., 1977): Council of Europe s language programme Publishers word lists: Longman defining i vocabulary / graded readers and coursebooks AWL: Academic Word List Technical dictionaries BNC frequency lists Francis and Kuçera (1987): Brown Corpus (American) 5

6 Advanced Stage (target vocabulary not specified in coursebook / self learning) personal centres of interest (words likelyl to interest t the learners in question) Sequencing Series Approach: ordered according to a principle (frequency, complexity, communicative need) Field Approach: a group of items chosen & introduced in any order Division of a long list into manageable fields/ covered in an opportunistic way) Oxford Bookworm Series: 2500 words / 6 fields (levels) Thank You! 6

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