Design A Perfect Syllabus Education Essay

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Identifying the general issues of needs analysis and objective setting for a particular learner group. Describe and justify the organising principles of its substance in relation to the course's general curriculum (general goals/aims). Explain how the syllabus can be re-negotiated during the course's progress.

Syllabus Design

1.0 Introduction

Design a perfect syllabus had been a hard work for teachers during ages, and there were a lot of studies and practical to improve how to organise and design a syllabus. A group of students are going to study abroad to improve a language that they have been study in their home university. In this paper I will discuss how to create an ideal syllabus design of this group of learners and how this syllabus is going to be, what difficulties are and how manage with it.

Group's presentation

Two new teachers are going to teach students of second-year at University of Granada. They will teach Spanish as a second language to students that are from different parts of the world, who are "Erasmus" students, so they have different backgrounds. The learners are a group of 24 people, boys and girls, who have an intermediate level of Spanish; everybody had obtained the B2 level in their home university. They are between 19 to 22 years old. This course is going to be during one semester of school year, which is 24 weeks to learn a language in a foreign country and try to be as much fluent as they can. They will live in a residence with Spanish people and it will be so helpful for them because they will speak Spanish everyday; they are going to face real situations, problems, conversations…etc. According to this idea Macalister and Nation support that: "the study starts with the simple fact that millions of people throughout the world, in temporary informal social contact with speakers of another language, learn enough of that language to conduct initial communication." (Macalister and Nation, 8).

1.2 Teachers

There will be two Spanish teachers, who are going to teach Spanish course; the teachers are going to give theoretical and practical classes, mostly practical than theoretical because students have a good theoretical base, but they have to work hard to improve and maintain. These two teachers do have an important role although they do not follow a strict syllabus; they are going to offer some freedom in the activities that students are going to do. At the end of the course teachers are going to evaluate them in a specific way that is explained in evaluation's section.

2.0 Syllabus Types

A good definition of syllabus is given by David Nunan, who defines syllabus as, "syllabus design is seen as being concerned essentially with the selection and grading of content" (Nunan, 5). Another definition of syllabus is "which outlines the goals and objectives of a course, prerequisites, the grading/evaluation scheme, materials to be used (textbooks, software), topics to be covered, a schedule, and a bibliography. Each of these components defines the nature of the learning experience". (Kearsley, Greg; Lynch, William). Stern gives a very practical definition of syllabus, "In its broadest sense, it refers to the study of goals, content, implementation and evaluation of an educational system. In its restricted sense, curriculum refers to a course of study or the content of a particular course or programme. It is in this narrower sense of curriculum that the term "syllabus" is employed (Stern, 1983:ch 19). So, in conclusion syllabus design is a group of characteristics in which teachers collect all the necessary information that the course is about.

2.1 What syllabus is the best option?

A perfect syllabus is not easy to make because it will reflect all the activities and task that a teacher is going to do during the whole year and it will be modified in order to adapt it to learner's needs. According to David Nunan, he made a distinction between two types of syllabus; "product-oriented and process-oriented" but in this case the most appropriate in this course is "process-oriented syllabus" whose definition given by Nunan is: "process syllabuses are those which focus on the learning experiences themselves". (Nunan, 38). In this type of syllabuses, one of them is "Procedural syllabuses" which some of its characteristics are according to the course that is offering. "A major characteristic which distinguished them from earlier types of syllabuses was their focus upon how something is done rather than the mere provision of a plan of the knowledge of a language as subject matter to be worked on". (Breen, 166). Learners will know the rules through tasks; they do not study grammar as a theoretical part, the aim is not repeat what learners had learnt before. As Breen goes on to explain, "The process syllabus focuses upon three processes: communicating, learning and the purposeful social activity of teaching and learning in classroom". The syllabus is focus only on learning processes, there's little or no attempt to relate these processes to outcomes. This kind of syllabus can be mixed with "task-based syllabuses" whose characteristics defining by Breen are these types of syllabuses "focuses upon the on learners' own experience and awareness of language learning" (Breen, 161)

Another syllabus is the "Natural approach" the aim here is communication skills in where communication anticipates production. goal: communication skills. It develops basic personal communications skills. Activities are so helpful in order to learning because it motivate students.

Another types of syllabuses is the Functional syllabus "is a propositional plan of language know- ledge and capabilities based upon a distinctive view of the nature of content for language pedagogy." (Breen, 87)


Objectives sometimes are defined before the content and sometimes later defining the content, in this case objectives are defining before the content. As Nunan states, "objectives are really nothing more than a particular way of formulating or stating contents and activities" (Nunan 1988, 60); another definition of objectives given by Nunan "objectives can be useful, not only to guide the selection of structures, functions, notions, tasks, and so on, but also to provide a sharper focus for teachers, to give learners a clear idea of what they can expect from a language programme, to help in developing means of assessment and evaluation, and so on"(Nunan, 61).

4.1 Behavioural objectives

Linguistics knowledge:

Learners should be able to solve some difficulties with some verbs.

Learners should be familiar with some specific vocabulary given in the class (colloquialƒ  to formal) Formal

Communicative proficiency:

Learners should be able to understand a conversation between native people.

Learners should be able to understand some audio or films in a perfect way and they also have to express the same idea to other partners.

Writing Competence:

-Learners should be able to write a variety of texts(ejs)

Sociolinguistics Competence:

-Learners should be able to have a conversation with their partners in their residence with fluency.

- Learners should show a presentation about Spanish cultura española


-Learners should be able to know some of dialects that some spanish people speak as "catalán", "gallego", "vasco".

-Learners should study some specific vocabulary of some Vocabulario andaluz


The content of the course reflect more or less its objectives that teachers must follow during the course. This course is design to improve and learn a language that previously had been studied; learners are going to develop their skills. It will be a semester (September to January) with a total of 20 weeks. The proposal of syllabus, according to the table (see below), it must include some initial tasks (written and oral, but mostly practical), where teachers can evaluate their levels and help them to improve their necessities and lacks; after this exam learners are going to work in pairs, so they would interact with themselves, giving them motivation. After having exams during the first week and divided up in pairs, second week is mostly presentations of teachers and learners; in this week teachers are going to the syllabus that they are going to follow in their classes, giving to the learners knowledge about what they are going to do in the course and how teacher will evaluate them at the end of the course. During the third and fourth weeks learners will have theoretical classes about their lacks in their skills that teachers have seen in their exams. In the fifth week, they will have a cultural week in which they will know a little bit more how is the culture of some places near Granada. The next week, learners are going to have some courses with native people in order to develop their conversation. At the end of October, they will know how are the different accent of Andalucía, but in particular Granada. In the eighth week, they will develop their skills at writing some types of texts. The next week, it will be dedicated to listening some audios which could help to learners, The following week, teachers are going to teach some specific vocabulary, not colloquial as most of them had been taught, in a formal way related to jobs, food, shops. At the eleventh week, learners will know some specific verbs that can be a difficulty to them at the time of speaking. The next week they are going to visit some places around Granada in order to test what they have learnt with a group of native people. When they will come back, they will have a class for Spanish Literature, they will study some poets like Federico Garcia Lorca, Antonio Machado… The next week students will show their presentations in which learners will show a situation where they solve a problem relating with language. This is the last week of the year, learners will have holidays for Christmas' time where they will have to study hard because the first week after Christmas they have to do an practical task in order to know what learners had learnt during the course and after this task they will a feedback between learners and teachers discussing how to improve the syllabus. After this week, the following is related to phonetics in order to improve how to speak properly. At the seventeenth week learners and teachers are going to visit University of Seville in order to participate with other learners that are studying the same as them. The following week they will have a study week where and the last week before exams is dedicate to solve doubts and problems. At last but not least the syllabus must include a final task and some presentations with their respective feedback for future courses.



Initial tasks


Group and teachers' presentation


Covering lacks and necessities


Improve some skills



Cultural knowledge


Conversations with native people


Knowing different accents


Write different types of texts



Listening some audios


Specific vocabulary


Verbs difficulties


Visiting some areas around Granada



Spanish literature





Task and feedback





Visiting University of Sevilla


Study weeks




Task and presentations with a final feedback


Motivation is important at the time to do a course. One objective of the teachers is to motivate learners in order to make easy the course and obtain good results. Language learner autonomy is close to motivation, it can be defined as the capacity of learners to improve themselves. Éva Illés states,

Learner autonomy can be defined as the capacity to become competent speakers of the target language who are able to exploit the linguistic and other resources at their disposal effectively and creatively. Autonomous learners are independent language users capable of online problem solving and decision making. Even though this perception of the notion is language use rather than learning driven, aspects of control over the learning process that pertain to learners' particular purposes.( Éva Illés, 509)


A negotiated syllabus according to John Macalister and I.S.P. Nation is, "A negociated syllabus involves the teachers and the learners working together to make decisions at many of the parts of the curriculum design process. Another definition of negociated syllabus is "the learners. (QOITE)The syllabus will be very flexible because it can be renegotiated according to learner's needs and objectives. The flexibility has here a high level because learners' opinion is very important according to the content. The basic contents will be the same. However all the speech functions will change. High flexibility is closed related to learner's motivation, because they will decide what they want to learn in the course, not what teachers want to. When this flexibility

8. Problems and solutions

One of the most important problems is how adapt the syllabus design to learner's necessities and lacks in order to teach everything those teachers have planned for a semester, without skipping something. One solution to this problem is to be realistics and make changes in the syllabus during the course.

There is a big problem related to flexibility, when there is so much flexibility learners could overtake the limits of their freedom and teachers could loss their role as a teacher.

2°* a variety of factors'll interact to determine task difficulty:

-          degree of contextual support

-          cognitive difficulty

-          amount of assistance provided

-          complexity of the lang.

-          psychological stress

-          amount & type of background knowledge required

* represents a change of focus rather than a revolution in syllabus design

3° * assumes that lang. consists of a single underlying psychological skill

Krashen and Terrell think that social aspects of the learning environment are irrelevant to what and how sts learn

9. Evaluation

9.1 What is evaluation?

Referring back the previous objectives and contents starting defining what is an evaluation. According to Nation and Macalister, "evaluation requires looking both at the results of the course, and the planning and running of the course … Carrying out an evaluation is like carrying out research, and it is thus critically important that the evaluator is clear about what question is being asked. That is, why the course is being evaluated. (Macalister and Nunan, 123)

9.2 Evaluation criteria

The evaluation's system will be the same as others countries; in the next chart will be represent the grading of the tasks, which students have to do during this course:

















A problem that grading could face is that students cannot be evaluated only once because there will have some task during the semester. There will be continuous assessment; teachers give important on what students have done during the whole semester not only what they have done in one exam.

The evaluation's course will be divided up between tasks, presentations and homework and at last assistance. The initial task is not grading; it is just for knowing learner's level. There would be another task after holidays and at the final of the course. These two tasks will be 60% of the mark that learners obtain at the end of the course. Presentations and homework will have important at the time of learner's evaluation, there will be one before holidays, and it will be 30% of the mark. On other side less important is assistance; assistance to the class is important in order to do some homework or presentations, it is not fair to other students that learners do not attend to class and they cannot work in groups as the syllabus planned, therefore it will be 10% of the final mark.

10. Conclusion

In view of the explanation and description of the proposal syllabus, it could conclude