Presentation Of A Grammar Syllabus Cultural Studies Essay

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Foreign language teachers have always been confronted with the predicament of providing their students with an appropriate syllabus for language development. Deciding on what to teach and how to teach it have been our main concerns. A syllabus is an expression of opinion on the nature of language and learning: it acts as a guide for both teacher and learner by providing some goals to be attained. Hutchinson and Waters (1987:80) define syllabus as follows: "As its simplest level a syllabus can be described as a statement of what is to be learnt. It reflects language and linguistic performance".

In this paper I will try to present a grammar syllabus which is designed for A Senior. Senior A is the third class in teaching English as a foreign language which means that students have already attended two year classes, Junior A and Junior B. So, learners have already been exposed to some grammatical phenomena, such as the verb "be", the verb "have got", the plurals, basic structures of Simple Present and Present Continuous tenses. My students are approximately eight to ten years old, they are all Greek which entails that they share the same cultural and educational background. The duration of this course will be one hour per week for the whole academic year, almost seven months. The course will take place in the private institution I work.

Taking these points into consideration, I will attempt to build my syllabus. This syllabus is organized in seven sections, Environment Analysis, Needs Analysis, Principles, Goals, Content & Sequencing, Format & Presentation, Monitoring & Assessing and the evaluation. Each section plays its role in the syllabus's construction.

1. Environment Analysis

Environment Analysis involves looking at the factors that will have a strong effect on decisions about the goals for the course, what to include in the course, and how to teach and assess it. Environment Analysis is also called situation analysis (Richards, 2001) or constraints analysis.

Environment Constraints

The constraints we have to take into account are the age of the learners. To be more specific, the learners are from eight to ten years old which entails that I have to be careful and selective with the activities. That is to say that I have to choose specific kinds of exercises which are relevant to their age. These exercises should not to be too difficult or too easy in order to keep learners' interest to maximum and not to feel frustrated. My students are all Greek and their first language will be used to help learning. Actually, we are going to use translation because in grammar some parts must be explained and be contrasted in the mother tongue so as to be understood. Comparison between the first language L1 and the second language L2 through translation might help learners activate language usage and serve as a tool to improve English and promote learning. The learners need English for a wide range of purposes as English is the dominant language in education and in workplace. Another point that we have to examine is the previous knowledge that our learners already have. In order to understand their knowledge they will be exposed to a diagnostic test (See Appendix 1). Also, we have to refer that the teacher is well trained in the terms of providing ready-made activities and using group work activities. In addition to this I, as a teacher, am confident in use of English and I can provide a complete set of course material. As far as the situation is concerned, there will be a suitable classroom where the arrangement of the desks can be changed for group work and for applying TPR (Total Physical Response activities) and the blackboard will be big and easily seen. One aspect that we must consider is the constraint of time, for instance if the learners can reach the goals in the available time, that is to say that we have to set limited goals to fit the time available (Nation I.S.P. and Macalister J. 2010) .

2. Needs Analysis

Needs analysis is directed mainly the goals and the content of a course. It examines what the learners know already and what they need to know. Needs analysis makes sure that the course will contain relevant and useful things to learn. (Nation I.S.P. and Macalister J. 2010). Nunan (1988: 5) has suggested that the starting point for a syllabus design can be an analysis of the language, information about the learner, beliefs about the learning process itself, or a combination of these.

However it is important to have in mind that there is no single approach to needs analysis or method of data collection and that a combination or adaptation to one's own teaching situation might be more illuminating. What is of paramount importance to remember is that what really matters is not perhaps the data collected through a NA process, but how we exploit it to our students' benefit. In other words NA is the first step carried out before a course and it is the process of establishing the what and the how of the course/syllabus (Evans, 1998: 121-26).In the light of the above we are going to use a diagnostic questionnaire (at the beginning of the school year). The following questionnaire can be adapted according to our students' needs and profile (See Appendix 1). Through the diagnostic test I will understand whether or not acquired some of the grammatical phenomena learned the previous years. As far as their needs and wants is concerned, apart from the test, I have been teaching this class from A Junior and I know that they have difficulty in some grammatical phenomena and I know their weak and strong points. So, my personal knowledge and the questionnaire will help me to adapt my course to my students needs.

The purpose of the monitoring and assessment part of curriculum design is to make sure that the learners will get the most benefit from the course (I.S.P Nation & J.Macalister, 2010:107). In order to understand what my students gained from the course and what their lacks are, they will be exposed to a diagnostic assessment (See Appendix 1), short term achievement assessments and a final achievement assessment.

As far as the diagnostic assessment is concerned, it will take place before the course begins. Through this assessment I will figure out the gaps and weaknesses in learners' knowledge. In this way, I will know to what grammatical phenomena I should give my attention and probably revise them. So, I will not waste the time teaching structures that are already understood.

During the course and specifically in every three lessons the learners will be exposed to short-term achievements assessments. The purpose of this assessment is to check if the learners are making progress on monthly basis. In the test the students are assessed on the work that they have done that month. Before the assessment the teacher and the students devote one hour to revise the units they have done through sentence-completion, gap-filling activities and pair work exercises. In this way students have the opportunity to discuss their gaps so as to understand and be ready for the assessment. The ultimate goal is to make students feel confident that they do know the grammatical phenomena and they are able to use them appropriately.

In the final achievement assessment learners are tested to what they have done the whole academic year. The test will include several types of activities and there will be all the grammatical phenomena which will have been taught. The purpose is to ensure that the learners have knowledge of what they have done so as to be ready for the next class which will be a little more challenging as new forms and structures will be presented.

7. Evaluation

This part of the curriculum design is to check if the course is successful and where it needs to be improved (I.S.P Nation & J.Macalister, 2010:123). To evaluate this course we follow a formative and summative evaluation. Formative evaluation has the purpose to of forming the course to improve it and the summative evaluation has the purpose of making a summary or judgment on the equality of the course so that it can be compared with other courses (I.S.P Nation & J.Macalister, 2010:125). Another distinction is process and product evaluation. Process evaluation focuses on the process of learning and teaching while the product evaluation focuses on the product of learning and teaching. To be more specific, I will focus on quality of teaching. Actually, a colleague teacher will come in the classroom in order to observe the teaching process (See Appendix 4). Also, I will evaluate the quality of learning through achievement assessments. Finally I will and by giving to the learners self-report scales to complete. Finally, in order to measure teacher and learner satisfaction I will use questionnaires and interviews.

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