Designing a twenty-hour course by Scott Shelton


The following document outlines a twenty-hour course designed for an identified group of advanced learners who are preparing to sit the examination for the Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English at the end of the term. It is divided into two parts. The first provides a rationale for the course, the process by which the course content has been selected and sequenced, as well as a brief examination of the principles of syllabus planning and how these were applied when planning the course. How this course reflects the learning needs of this particular group is also addressed, as well as how these needs were determined. The second part consists of a course outline (appendix A) and a detailed timetable of the course plan. (appendix B)

The duration of the course was fifteen one and a half hour lessons, over the course of eight weeks, and is representative of the larger, eight month long syllabus which most of this group has been taking part in. This portion of the larger syllabus begins just after returning from Christmas break, and runs through into the end of February. The class consists of eight students, many of whom are young professionals, who meet twice a week. Their initial level was determined by a written entrance exam, which is standard at International House, where I teach, and additionally by an oral interview with a trained teacher.

Course rationale

This syllabus, as mentioned, was designed to prepare and train students to pass the Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English, and places particular emphasis on the skills they will need and the topics they will likely encounter in this exam. The CAE was introduced in December 1991 and is designed to offer a high-level qualification to those wishing to use English for professional or study purposes.

The examination consists of five papers: Reading, Writing, English in Use, Listening and Speaking.

The Cambridge CAE handbook (2001:7) breaks down the necessary skills and expectations for each section, and are as follows:

Learners at this level are expected to be able to read and understand text taken from a wide range of authentic sources. They should demonstrate a variety of reading skills including skimming, scanning, deduction of meaning from context and selection of relevant information to complete the given task.

Learners are expected to complete non-specialist writing tasks in response to the stimuli provided (input text and task descriptions). The input texts are taken from a wide range of authentic sources. Both audience and purpose are made clear in the task descriptions.

English in Use
Learners are expected to demonstrate the ability to apply their knowledge of the language system by completing tasks based on authentic passages. The tasks include: cloze exercise types, gap filling, proof-reading exercises, word formation exercises and text completion.

Learners are expected to understand each text as a whole, gain detailed understanding and appreciate gist and the attitude of the speaker. They must also be able to identify and interpret the context. Texts take the form of announcements, speeches, radio broadcasts, etc.

Learners must be able to demonstrate a range of oral skills: interactional, social, transactional, negotiation and collaboration.

Due to the amount and breadth of reading and writing involved in this exam, this syllabus places an emphasis on the skills required to succeed in these areas. Specific training in how to approach these tasks is given and ample exposure to a wide range of authentic texts is provided for as well.

Listening and speaking skills are also practiced regularly and are an integral part of this course as they are also tested in a variety of ways.

Building a sufficiently large active and passive vocabulary is a constant concern at this level and it is focused on continually throughout this course.

Although grammar is not overtly tested in CAE, this course provides ample opportunity to revise, and structural accuracy is a permanent focus of the tasks laid out in this course.

The units prepared are based on a theme containing likely topics to be found in the exam, and a continuous thread runs through each lesson as different aspects of the theme are explored.

The main aim of this syllabus is to give the students in this group ample training representative of all the exam tasks they will meet and at the same time taking into consideration their particular needs, strengths, weaknesses and interests.

Although passing the exam is obviously its main focus, this syllabus was designed to be relevant and interesting to the students at a personal level outside of the exam perimeter and relevant to their social needs as well.

Planning a course syllabus: Choosing and sequencing course content

As Richards points out in 'Curriculum Development in language teaching', (2001:148) a course, to be successful, must be developed to address a specific set of needs and to cover a given set of objectives. I concur that considerations of students' needs should play a part in planning a course as well as the objectives and proposed outcomes for the group. He signals that:

"The choice of a particular approach to content selection will depend on subject matter knowledge, the learners' proficiency levels, current views on second language learning and teaching, conventional wisdom, and convention."

Breen, (1987) in turn, suggests that:

Syllabus design is a decision-making process which has to be responsive to a range of requirements including its sensitivity to the curriculum, classroom, and educational contexts for which it is designed. In order to meet these requirements, the designer creates a syllabus on the basis of the four organizing principles of focus, selection, subdivision and sequencing. The particular way in which the designer applies these principles will never be neutral or objective but will reflect views on language, upon using language, and upon the teaching and learning of language which the designer shares with the wider community of specialists in language education.

In choosing the content and sequence of content in this twenty-hour course, the objectives of the group were taken into consideration (passing a specific exam), as well as their current proficiency level. Also taken into consideration were the task types they will meet in the exam, their learning styles and a certain amount of conventional wisdom based on my previous experience of having prepared other students for this exam, and through conferencing with other teacher who have done the same.

In order to assess the specific needs of the students in this group in relation to their exam preparation and their current rate of progress, I administered a combination retrospective and prospective needs analysis (appendix C). This was done in order to gain the insight needed to better understand how my students perceived the course they had been involved in up to then, their perception of their progress, and any adjustments that they felt were needed to better prepare them for the exam. This, as well as any special needs or problems that they might be having that I, as their teacher, was not aware of.

The results of the survey were largely positive as the majority of the class felt that their needs as learners, as well as their expectations of the course were being met. Many expressed interest in doing more practice examinations as part of their preparation but found the course book and supplementary materials relevant and interesting as well.

As expected, there were discernable discrepancies among the learners' own perceived strengths and weaknesses. The balance of skills and systems work selected for the course reflects an attempt to take into account this wide range of needs. Content was chosen with the learners' needs in mind although my experience, and the experience of colleagues who have prepared others for this exam, also played a part in the selection and sequence of the course material.

Performance objectives for the group

Nunan (1988:63) defines performance objectives as, what learners should be able to do as a result of instruction, and states:

"Most syllabus planners who advocate the use of performance objectives suggest that they should contain three components. The first of these, the performance component, describes what the learner is to be able to do, the second, the conditions component, specifies the conditions under which the learner will perform, and the final component, the standards component, indicates how well the learner is to perform".

Gronlund (1981 in Nunan 1988:65) argues in favor of specifying objectives:

"The effort to specify objectives in performance terms forces us to be realistic about what it is feasible to achieve, and they greatly facilitate student assessment".

In relation to this course plan for advanced learners, the ideas behind these two statements can be clearly linked to the goal of passing an official exam and are reflected in the content of their coursework laid out in the timetable in part two of this paper.

The performance component is broken down into the specific tasks they are expected to do, such as in writing a transactional letter or completing a set of notes after listening to a related monologue.

The conditions are in a classroom situation and are practiced in such a way to prepare for a future exam situation.

The standard expected, as well as being at Cambridge Level Four, also falls within Level four of the Association of Language Testers in Europe (ALTE).

A description of a "competent user" at this level, (although not being a specification for the examination content but referring to language activities in real-world, non-examination contexts) is found in Appendix D (Cambridge CAE handbook: 2001:6).

Additionally, performance sub-goals within the classroom can be stated from a success-in-the-task perspective; its desired outcome being continued motivation. In my experience, sustaining motivation, especially on the Cambridge examination preparation courses, is clearly important as the courses are quite intensive, the standard is high, and the learners are continually being challenged. As Dr. Littlejohn (2001) points out:

"While both teachers and school systems have drawn on both intrinsic satisfaction and extrinsic reward as sources of motivation in learning, the third source, success in the task: the combination of satisfaction and reward, is perhaps under exploited in teaching. This is the simple fact of success, and the effect that it has on our view of what we do. As human beings, we generally like what we do well, and are therefore more likely to do it again and put in more effort. If we put in more effort, we generally get better, and so this sustains our motivation".

Taking this on board when designing a syllabus necessarily has as much or more to do with grading tasks, as selecting and sequencing content. This course is pitched at the advanced level throughout although there is an appreciable progression in the exam tasks leading to fuller exam-type tasks as the course progresses. This is especially evident in the tasks leading up to and forming part of a mock exam and the subsequent tasks, which make up the lessons coming afterwards.

In summary, it should be evident that this particular syllabus has been designed with very specific goals in mind. However, in achieving these goals, it has been taken into consideration that maintaining motivation throughout the learning process, though grading and projected success in the inherent tasks, is of great importance.

Selecting a syllabus framework

Richards (2001:152) describes a syllabus as:

"The major elements that will be used in planning a language course and which provides the basis for its instructional focus and content."

Reilly, (1988) lists six types of syllabi (see appendix E for a full description)
and goes on to say this about choosing and integrating syllabi:

"Although the six 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 with 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."

In designing this course, my point of departure was the course book that is set for this group of learners by the larger curriculum of the school (CAE Masterclass 1999), the students' needs collected by means of a needs analysis survey, and the performance objectives set out above.

Supplementary materials are also used throughout the course and come in several forms. Some example are news articles from 'The Independent' (A British daily broadsheet) which are relevant to the current classroom theme and adapted to practice exam related skills such as reading for gist and detail, or for work on noticing and recording lexis and structures. Authentic video from the BBC with worksheets adapted to practice listening comprehension skills, and adapted transcripts to work on system related skills are used as well. Published Cambridge practice exams are also included for exam practice specifically under 'real' exam conditions.

The overall organizing principle is largely skills-based, concentrating on the four basic skills of reading, writing, listening and speaking with structure being integrated as an internal element of the tasks set, which in turn practice each skill. Discrete grammar points are also revised and practiced.

Evaluation and conclusion

The evaluation of this course is based primarily on student feedback, through counseling, mock examination results and reflection on the part of the teacher and students.

From the student needs analysis it was apparent that although some individually perceived needs were not fully being met, overall - the general collective class needs were largely being met. The teacher and the course were seen in a positive light, the students perceived class time being used wisely and felt they were being provided appropriate materials for their present level and goals.

A mock exam was administered over two days and included representative sampling of all areas of the Advanced Certificate Exam including; reading, listening, use of English, and writing. All were subject to an appropriate time limit.

Seven of the nine students in class did well enough to warrant a pass while two others did not. A full class feedback session was held after the exams, as well as individual counseling, in order to get an authentic response from each student on their progress and the course, and to give any necessary advice to the student.

The majority of the responses were favorable in that everyone felt they were improving although many felt they did not have enough time to spend outside of class on their studies. In the exam results it was clear, however, that everyone could benefit from more work on proof-reading and syntactical grammar exercises. The need to practice with exam level listening exercises was evident, while reading was a strong point for all and writing was generally good. The necessary changes will be implemented in the rest of the course to follow, to adjust to these results.

Through exam results and the outcome of teacher-student counseling, I feel that the course planned was quite successful in reaching its objectives. The students are positive about their time spent and their progress. While it is apparent that changes in emphasis will be implemented in the future, a well balanced course focusing on the different skills and exercise types needed in the exam has been largely successful for the majority of the class.


Richards, J.C. (2001) Curriculum Development in Language Teaching, CUP

Nunan, D. (1988) Syllabus Design, OUP

Nunan, D. (1991) Language Teaching Methodology, Prentice Hall International, Edinburgh

Breen, M.P. (1987) Contemporary Paradigms in Syllabus Design, Language Teaching, 20/3 1987

Reilly, T. (1988) Approaches to Foreign Language Syllabus Design, Eric Digests 1988

Littlejohn, A. (2001) Motivation: Where does it come from? Where does it go?. English Teaching Professional issue 19 April 2001.

Richards, J. C. (1990)The Language Teaching Matrix, CUP

Gray, K. (1990) "Syllabus design for the general class: what happens to theory when you apply it. ELT Journal Volume 44 October, 1990

Richards, J.C. & Rodgers, T. S. (1986) Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching , CUP


Scott Shelton has been involved in EFL teaching since 1991 and has taught adults from all over the world. Currently residing and teaching in New Zealand, Scott has also taught multilingual groups at St. Giles College in San Francisco and Spanish speaking learners at International House Madrid, Spain. He was awarded the Cambridge Diploma (DELTA) in 2002, having followed the course at the British Language Centre in Madrid, and earned his CELTA from St. Giles College International a very long time ago.


Appendix A - Course Outline


Agreeing to disagree
Making complaints
Holding the floor
Expressing personal opinion
Comparing and contrasting
Turn taking


Linking devices
Wishes and regrets
Constructions after reporting verbs
Hypothetical conditionals
Relative clauses
Noun and verb clauses
Adjective order


Positive and negative connotations
Noticing and recording collocations of:

Adjective + noun phrases
Verb + noun phrases
Adverb + adjective phrases

Phrasal verbs
Confusable words
False cognates
Adverbs and adjectives to describe lifestyles
Word formation


Word stress patterns
Intonation (inferring attitude at receptive level)


Speaking: Interactional/transactional
Giving descriptions
Developing a discussion
Ranking/justifying opinion
For gist and for detail
Register transfer
Film reviews
Formal/informal letters
For gist and for detail
For pleasure

Learning strategies

Developing top down
/bottom up reading and
listening strategies
Planning to write
Identifying theme,
Purpose and audience
Developing an awareness of cohesion
Proofreading/error correction
Noticing and recording lexis in context
Prediction/ educated guessing

Appendix B - the course timetable

Lesson 1
1.5 hours

Lesson 2
1.5 hours

Lesson 3
1.5 hours
Lesson 4
1.5 hours
-Theme: Socializing
- Skill: Writing
- Sub skill: writing a formal report
- Exam prep. Pt. 1
- Task 1: Read report extract summarize paragraph aims
- Identify word/phrases which introduce subject, opinions, and linking devices
- Task 2: Analyze 3 texts and decide on a theme, purpose and target reader for report
- Selecting ideas/ planning an answer
- Linking information from given texts to support position in report
- Decide on conclusions and recommendations
- Homework: writing a report
- Introduction to new unit theme: Culture and Entertainment
- Skill: Reading
- (Multiple matching)
- Sub-skills: Skimming and scanning exam techniques
- Exam prep. Reading pt.1/4
- Task: matching appropriate items from a text to answer specific questions
- System: Vocabulary finding synonyms to match words in text
- Vocabulary task:
- Based on order of descriptive adjectives
- Skill: Speaking: Description of favorite articles at home
- Homework: Proofreading
- correction of descriptive text
- Theme: films
- System: Vocabulary: categorizing adjectives (Positive/negative)
- Skill: Listening:
- Sub skills: Noticing and recording language useful for speaking/writing about films (adjective noun collocations)
- Task: listen to recorded discussion on a film for gist then listen again for adj./noun collocations and record on work sheet
- Task: guided search in transcript for more related vocabulary and collocations
- System: discourse: transferring register from informal spoken to formal written
- Task: transferring selected expressions from transcript to formal written language
- Skill: interactional Speaking
- discussion on recent films seen
- Homework: English in Use Pt.1 Vocabulary Cloze multiple cho
- Theme: films
- Skill: writing
- Sub skill: writing a formal film review
- Task: Identify adverbs used to strengthen adj. of opinion and description in text
- Identifying Positive and negative points in given text
- System: Vocabulary
- Working with adverbs to intensify adjectives
- to strengthen introducing information and opinions (used in reviews)
- Preparing to write:
- Brainstorming ideas/planning an answer
- Pairs walk each other through plan. Comment and improve
- Homework: write formal review of film or play
- Additional outside reading : newspaper article linked to upcoming video based lesson
Lesson 5
1.5 hours
Lesson 6
1.5 hours
Lesson 7
1.5 hours
Lesson 8
1.5 hours
- Theme: Cultural entertainment
- Skill: interactional speaking practice
- Summary and feedback on outside reading
- Systems: Grammar and Vocabulary
- Exam prep. Eng. In use pt. 1-4
- Skill: Listening
- S's listen to video to check answers
- Task: S's do open cloze testing both vocabulary and grammar based on reading theme then check with video for answers
- System: spelling and punctuation Editing/error correction based on video
- System: Vocabulary Multiple choice vocabulary gap fill based on outside reading
- Homework: create own multiple choice gap fill using words which were not answers for the text.
- Theme: Festivals
- Skill: Speaking
- Sub skill: Exam practice using transactional language.
- Practice in Speaking paper part 2 where students take "long turn"
- Task:
- Describing a set of photographs in detail to put them in same order. Pair work
- Theme: lifestyles and people
- Task: S's engage in "long turn" describing and commenting on visual prompts
- Sub skills Describing, hypothesizing and commenting
- System: transactional discourse
- Sub skills:
- Turn taking
- Holding the floor
- Skill: Listening
- Sub skill: prediction, note taking/
- completing a table
- Exam preparation for part 1/2 of listening section
- Theme:
- System: Vocabulary
- Word building
- Practice for English in Use; part 4
- Raising awareness of word class,
- Affixes
- (prefixes/suffixes)
- Skill: Reading
- Sub skill: reading for gist
- Students read internet article at home and in class talk about what they remember
- Reacting to text
- Students read news article and pairs work through related wksheet dealing with affixes
- Pairs do worksheet related to word-stress and affixes
- Sub skill: hypothesizing about how words are pronounced
- From authentic text S's complete gap fill by forming appropriate word from prompts
- Students write questions related to theme and discuss in groups
- Theme: Lifestyles
- Skill speaking (transactional and interactional)
- Practice for speaking parts two and three.
- Students brainstorm all they know and want to know about the speaking test.
- S's do gap fill multiple choice cloze adapted from handbook info.
- S's read more info. Related to speaking paper.
- In groups S's practice mock style with teacher as interlocutor.
- Feedback and ideas how to improve
- English in Use exam training part six; gapped text with emphasis on cohesion and coherence.
- Theme: Japanese Noh theatre
- T. walks S's through clues related to cohesive links.
- S's work in pairs to finish task
- Home work: similar task with commentary and answers included.
Lesson 9
1.5 hours
1.5 hrs
Lesson 11
1.5 hrs.
Lesson 12
1.5 hrs
- Mock exam part 1
- Paper to be tested:
- English in Use
- Part 1: Multiple choice cloze
- Emphasis on Lexis
- S's read gapped text, choose correct word from four choices
- Part 2: Open cloze emphasis on structure words
- S's read gapped text, supply one word only to complete the text
- Part 3: Error correction
- Emphasis on proofreading spelling and punctuation errors
- S's read through text, identify line, which contains an error, show the correction in space provided.
- Paper 4: Open cloze register transfer
- Emphasis from formal to informal
- S's read teacher's comments on student project; use information to complete gaps in informal letter from the student herself.
- Paper 5: Cloze gap fill based on word formation
- Emphasis on morphology S's read text, form word from root to complete text.
- Homework: Timed writing S's choose from 5 task types (2 letters, article, competition entry, or report) Write 250 words in approx.1hr
- Mock exam part 2
- Paper to be tested: Reading and Listening
- Part 1 (reading)
- Multiple matching task Main focus: Understanding specific information
- S's skim text, answer questions based on information in text.
- Part 2: Gapped text
- Main focus: Text structure
- S's re-construct text that has had it's paragraphs jumbled
- Part 3: Multiple choice. Main focus: understanding detail, opinion/attitude.
- S's read text and choose from 4 possible answers
- Listening paper 4
- Part 1: Note taking task based on listening to short monologue, students hear twice
- Main focus: understanding specific information
- Part 2: Note taking task based on monologue students hear only once.
- Main focus: Understanding specific information
- Part 4: Multiple matching. S's hear 5 extracts twice, select answer from 8 options.
- Main focus: Identifying speakers, topics, interpreting context, recognizing function and attitude.
- Exam feedback
- Whole class feedback on Reading proceeded by pairs working together to compare results and justify choices or be swayed by classmate.
- Pairs work through worksheet with dictionaries designed to guide them through some of the anticipated problem areas in the multiple choice part 1 of English in Use, focusing on Lexis and common problem pairs
- S's work through copy of transcript of Listening and check answers in pairs underlining relevant parts
- Teacher-student interview to discuss mock results, recent needs analysis and general counseling
- New Unit theme: The world of work
- Skills: Reading§ Matching text to pictures depicting professions
- Sub skill: identifying co-textual clues
- System: vocabulary
- Task: S's search text for synonymous words matching ones given
- Skill: speaking/reading
- From text prompt
- S's discuss views on theme of text
- System: discourse (transactional/
- interactional language skills)
- Focus on turn taking skills and ability to explain, summarize and develop a discussion
- Exam prep. For part 2/4 of speaking paper
- Pairs compare/contrast photographs
- Develop discussion from visual prompts
- Skill: Listening
- Task: Sentence gap completion from monologue
Lesson 13
1.5 hours
Lesson 14
1.5 hours
Lesson 15
1.5 hours
- Theme: The real world/work
- System: spelling and punctuation
- Skill: proofreading/editing
- Exam prep. Eng. In use part 3
- From paragraph on how to become a careers officer S's identify and correct errors in spelling and punctuation
- System: Vocabulary
- Focus on homophones
- Skill: Reading
- Pre-reading discussion based on visual prompts and given adjectives
- Exam practice in paper 1 part 2
- Sub skill: Skim reading
- System focus: cohesion(linking relationships between paragraphs)
- Task: Restructure text cut up into separate paragraphs by identifying words that refer to links between paragraphs
- System: Vocabulary
- Focus on phrasal verbs used in text.
- Task: inferring meaning from contextual clues
- Theme: Jobs/taking time out
- Skill: Speaking
- Discussion on how S's would spend time if didn't have to work/study.
- Sub skill: expressing/justifying opinions
- System: grammar/vocabulary§ Task: supply missing words in article with one word only
- Re-read and identify synonymous words and phrases matching ones given.
- Wishes/regrets
- Task related to article
- S's find examples of wishes and regrets implied by writer
- Skill: Speaking
- S's recount wishes/regrets from written prompts
- § Theme: working abroad
- Skill: interactional speaking practice
- S's discuss hypothetical situation based on working/travelling abroad
- Skill: listening
- Sub skill: listening for gist
- S's hear monologue of someone who took a year off. S's decide if time was successfully spent
- Skill: Writing
- Sub skill: Register transfer
- Task 1: Read various ads for work abroad, summarize info. And id. More info. They would like to know about jobs
- Task 2: From ads and letter from friend prompts S's plan response to letter and suggest substitutions of language used for formal register
- Write one formal letter to org. asking for more information(transactional letter)
- And an informal response to friend describing action (interactional)

Appendix C - Needs analysis

Needs analysis

Please take some time at home and answer any and all questions you feel comfortable about answering and those that you feel are relevant. This information will help your teacher to have a better understanding of you and the others on this course and will have an effect on how it is taught. Please answer as briefly or as in depth as you like.

1. In your opinion, is this course presently fulfilling your needs and requirements for passing the CAE exam? If not, how would you prefer to proceed and what do you think needs to be done?

2. What were your expectations of this course before you began? How close to reality were they?

3. Do you feel you know what is expected on each paper of the exam?
If not, how would you rather receive more information-directly from your teacher during class time or by reading relevant sections of Cambridge published material?

4. Do you feel that you are making progress? If not, what do you think could help you progress more?

5. What are your views of the course book and supplementary materials used on this course? Are they relevant to your needs? Do you find them interesting? If not, what more is needed, in your opinion?

6. What do you feel are your strengths and weaknesses? Reading writing listening speaking?
Do you feel that your pronunciation is adequate for your present needs?

7. What do you feel are the areas you need to work on most? Are you getting sufficient practice and input on these areas in class?

Which part of the exam do you feel most confident about?
8. Do you think you are reading and writing enough both inside and outside of class in order to be able to deal with the exam requirements?
If not, how do you think this could be remedied?

9. Are there any particular problems you are having on this course? Do you feel that you teacher is aware of this and provides opportunities to work on this area in class?

10. Do you feel that your teacher is well prepared and uses class time wisely? If not, please comment on how you think this could be improved?


Appendix D - of a "competent user" at this level

The standard expected, as well as being at Cambridge Level Four, also falls within Level four of the Association of Language Testers in Europe (ALTE). A description of a "competent user" at this level, although not being a specification for the examination content but referring to language activities in real-world, non-examination contexts is found in Appendix 4 (Cambridge CAE handbook: 2001).

At this level, learners are expected to be able to use the structures of a language with ease and fluency. They are aware of both the relationship between the language and the culture it exists in, as well as the significance of register. To some extent they are able to adapt their language to a variety of social situations and express opinions and take part in discussions and arguments in a culturally acceptable way. They can develop their own interests in reading both factual and fictional texts. They can also produce a variety of types of texts and utterances, such as letters of varying degrees of formality. They can use language in a creative and flexible way, with the ability to respond appropriately to unforeseen as well as predictable situations, producing quite long and complex utterances. Examinations at this level may be used as proof of the level of language necessary to work at a managerial or professional level or follow a course of academic study at university level.

Appendix - E Reilly, (1988) lists six types of syllabi

1. "A structural syllabus." 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.

2. "A notional/functional syllabus." 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.

3. "A situational syllabus." 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 is 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.

4. "A skill-based syllabus." The content of the language teaching is a collection of specific abilities that may play a part in using language. Skills are things that people must be able to do to be competent in a language, relatively independently of the situation or setting in which the language use can occur. While situational syllabi group functions together into specific settings of language use, skills-based syllabi group linguistic competencies (pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar, and discourse) together into generalized types of behavior, such as listening for main ideas, writing well-formed paragraphs, giving effective oral presentations, and so on. The primary purpose of skill-based instruction is to learn the specific language skill. A possible secondary purpose is to develop more general competence in the language, learning only incidentally any information that may be available while applying the language skills.

5. "A task-based syllabus" The content of the teaching is a series of complex and purposeful tasks that the students want or need to perform with the language they are learning. The tasks are defined as activities with a purpose other than language learning, but, as in a content-based syllabus, the performance of the tasks is approached in a way that is intended to develop second language ability. Language learning is subordinate to task performance, and language teaching occurs only as the need arises during the performance of a given task. Tasks integrate language (and other) skills in specific settings of language use. Task-based teaching differs from situation-based teaching in that while situational teaching has the goal of teaching the specific language content that occurs in the situation (a predefined product), task-based teaching has the goal of teaching students to draw on resources to complete some piece of work (a process). The students draw on a variety of language forms, functions, and skills, often in an individual and unpredictable way, in completing the tasks. Tasks that can be used for language learning are, generally, tasks that the learners actually have to perform in any case. Examples include: applying for a job, talking with a social worker, getting housing information over the telephone, and so on.

6. "A content-based syllabus." The primary purpose of instruction is to teach some content or information using the language that the students are also learning. The students are simultaneously language students and students of whatever content is being taught. The subject matter is primary and language learning occurs incidentally to the content learning. The content teaching is not organized around the language teaching, but vice-versa. Content-based language teaching is concerned with information, while task-based language teaching is concerned with communicative and cognitive processes. An example of content-based language teaching is a science class taught in the language the students need or want to learn, possibly with linguistic adjustment to make the science more comprehensible.

In general, the six types of syllabi or instructional content are presented beginning with the one based most on structure, and ending with the one based most on language use. Language is a relationship between form and meaning, and most instruction emphasizes on or the other side of this relationship.

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