a twenty-hour course
by Emma Metcalf
Determining goals and objectives
it is necessary to specify the difference between 'goal'
and 'objective.' Graves, (1996, pp.16-7) defines goals as
'general statements of the overall, long-term purpose of
the course' and objectives as 'specific ways in which the
goals will be achieved.' (See appendix H for further specification
of objectives.) Therefore the goals I have outlined below
are what we wanted to achieve by the end of the twenty hours
of the course. The objectives consisted of the various activities
and tasks that took place in class (as stated in the course
plan.) Though specific goals and objectives may be criticised
(see appendix I) I would agree with Graves that 'clear goals
and objectives give the teacher a basis for determining
which content and activities are appropriate for the course.'
Nunan also argues that, 'it is undemocratic not to let the
learner know what he is going to get of of the educational
system.' (1988,p.54) During the course the students were
informed about what they were going to do in each class
(one teacher wrote a 'menu' on the whiteboard and the students
were given explanations as to why they were asked to complete
each task/activity (objective). Stern (1992) lays out four
'types' of goals that the syllabus intended to cover. (See
appendix J for a more detailed explanation of the different
types of goals.) The goals were as follows:
To improve oral , functional communication skills.
· To improve listening skills using authentic
· To improve writing skills focusing on process.
· To give a general upgrade of language mainly
through vocabulary and expressions.
· To tackle 'tricky' areas of grammar and revise
and recycle assumed knowledge of grammar.
To make the classes as enjoyable as possible
· To give feedback (error correction/ positive
comments/advice) to boost confidence and maintain motivation.
To promote learner autonomy.
· To develop reading strategies.
is a general outline and I will now go on to specify some
of the objectives when discussing what was be included in
3. Conceptualising content
was a difficult area. Some of the objectives were easy to
Most of the students used English on the telephone so
a lesson focusing on telephone language was appropriate.
- Most of the students used the internet and received and
sent emails in English, so a lesson on writing emails was
- Most students wanted to improve their writing skills so
a lesson was devised for writing a formal letter.
- All the students wanted to expand their vocabulary, so several
vocabulary lessons were devised. Those lessons that were not
specifically vocabulary focused, contained, at least, some
new language input.
- The majority of the students were interested in current
affairs, therefore a lesson on newspapers and the news was
objectives were more difficult to negotiate. One particularly
difficult area was grammar. Some students wanted to 'do' grammar
in class, whilst others were not too interested. It was decided
that the syllabus would not be structurally based mainly because
at advanced level it is extremely difficult to predict which
grammar areas should be covered. There is always a sense that
all the grammar has been 'done' before. Therefore it was agreed
that the main areas to be covered were:
The four skills (the main focus being on speaking and listening.)
Functional language (situations that would be transferable
to the real-world and covered the areas stated by Clark 1997.
(See appendix K)
- Vocabulary (often colloquial and under various topics.)
One last area we wanted to cover throughout the course was
learner autonomy. With reference to the travel vocabulary
lesson, students were given suggestions on how to record vocabulary.
(See appendix L) Learner diaries were also introduced in the
first week to help students identify their own 'lacks' and
to give us information on how they thought the course was
going. (See appendix M)
course could be described as 'multi-layered' yet paying particular
attention to the points mentioned above. The next task was
to decide on which materials to include.
4. Selecting and developing materials and activities
it may have been easier to follow a course book in terms of
selecting materials and organising them, none of the course
books catered well enough for our students´needs. Some
materials were taken from In Advance (1994) and Streamline
Departures (1985). These were mainly used for their content
(vocabulary and a listening.) Many of the materials were authentic:
newspapers, books, short stories downloaded from the internet,
radio news bulletins and videos. The rest of the materials
were designed by the teachers, specifically to meet the objectives
in each class, which in turn, attempted to meet the students´needs.
Though some of the activities were designed for the classroom,
an attempt was made to make the objectives transferable to
real world situations.
goals and objectives were intended to be as relevant to the
students as possible, but as Hutchinson et al. point out:
'The medicine of relevance may
need to be sweetened with
the sugar of enjoyment, fun, creativity and a sense of achievement.'
(1987, p. 48) The students needed to enjoy the process of
learning and therefore we tried to choose interesting topics
and texts, design fun activities and vary the pace and dynamics
of the classroom by doing lots of pair and group work. The
organisation of these materials was the next matter to consider.
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