curriculum formation

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  • Airone
    Participant
    25 September, 2008 at 12:22
    • Total posts: 1

    I am currently teaching 24 students of different levels in a single company. Most are one-on-one, with a few classes (maximum 4 people). Their levels range from zero to upper intermediate.

    For various reasons I have eschewed Headway-style all-in-one books, and preferred to create custom lessons for each student. At this point however, two questions arise:

    1. How do I create a curriculum? I am thinking of looking in the major English course books and tailoring their approach to my students’ needs.

    2. For my lowest-level students (they don’t know the verb "to be"), is it legitimate to have them follow an all-in-one coursebook, perhaps supplementing this with activities/games? This would lighten my workload considerably. It’s embarassingly difficult to teach the nuts and bolts of English and it’s taking up much of my time. In my opinion they need the foundations before I can start tailoring the lessons to their needs.

    Any tips or internet resources would be appreciated.

    Thanks!

    dan
    Moderator
    27 September, 2008 at 18:35
    • Total posts: 590

    Reply To: curriculum formation

    Hi Airone

    [quote]For various reasons I have eschewed Headway-style all-in-one books, and preferred to create custom lessons for each student.[/quote]

    By creating custom lessons you’ll respond more appropriately to the individual needs and objectives of each student and group, and so I would encourage it. However, you will probably find that you’ll need to find a balance between creating lessons from scratch and using published material – creating lessons from scratch is obviously a lot more time consuming than following a coursebook, and if you have a lot of classes, this will likely be an issue.

    [quote]I am thinking of looking in the major English course books and tailoring their approach to my students’ needs. [/quote]

    Absolutely. Start by thinking about what your students need and want, and try to put these objectives into a sequence, according to priority for the student, complexity of language required to achieve the objective, etc. This will give you a very general outline for the course. You can then have a look at some of the coursebooks available to you and see what you can use from them for each of these objectives. In this way you start to flesh out how you’re going to achieve each of the objectives.

    It’s worth taking the time at the beginning of the course to do this. Then, when you come to plan the classes for the week, you already have in mind your objective for each class, and a rough idea of some materials you can use. For each lesson, it then simply becomes a matter of getting those materials into a lesson plan, and perhaps adding some of your own ideas and custom materials.

    What you avoid by doing this is getting to an hour before the class and saying to yourself "Right, what am I going to do with him today?", then looking in a book, seeing something interesting and saying "That’ll do". This can lead to incoherent courses which lack any kind of continuity.

    Try to work in to your course plan some review work, coming back to previous objectives and language points to provide a refresher and, again, continuity.

    [quote]For my lowest-level students (they don’t know the verb "to be"), is it legitimate to have them follow an all-in-one coursebook, perhaps supplementing this with activities/games?[/quote]

    Absolutely. It can be very good for low level students to follow a coursebook in this way – it’s important that they see structure to their training and can visualise which direction it’s taking….

    [quote]In my opinion they need the foundations before I can start tailoring the lessons to their needs. [/quote]

    …but it doesn’t mean to say you have to slavishly follow a coursebook page by page. Pick and choose, supplement, ignore irrelevant or boring bits, choose a book which is most relevant to their needs (if your students are businesspeople, go with a business coursebook). Yes, they need the nuts and bolts, but you can still teach these in contexts which are relevant to the student. Teach the present simple by having them describe what they do in their job, for example – this will activate some useful and relevant vocabulary for them at the same time.

    Hope that helps

    Dan

    mac
    Participant
    31 October, 2008 at 12:32
    • Total posts: 2

    Reply To: curriculum formation

    In the situation you describe, you have been given a fair amount of responsibilty: possibly an unfair amount if you don’t have the experience in designing a course.
    Using an existing coursebook makes huge sense, in fact most people’s common sense (people at large as opposed to ‘teachers’)would probably point them in that direction. Why not take advantage of a course that has been tried and tested – surely colleagues can recommend one. You may need to tailor it slightly but why do teachers so often think that following a book is ‘cheating’? Of course, if you teach "thougthlessly" you are doing a disservice to your students but if you care enough (as you clearly do), teaching ‘aimlessly’, even with good intentions can easily become a frustrating journey that doesn’t go that far.
    Unless you are hired as ‘an expert’ your employers should provide you with the support and advice you need to do a difficult job responsibly.

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