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Steps in Designing the ESP Syllabus

Steps in Designing the ESP Syllabus

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Published by Yudha Hatfreak
it includes some steps in designing ESP syllabus
it includes some steps in designing ESP syllabus

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Published by: Yudha Hatfreak on Mar 21, 2012
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Steps in Designing the ESP Syllabus Graves (1996, in Xenodohidis, 2006) suggests a systematic syllabus design consisting of

six steps. Those steps are: 1. conducting needs assessment, followed with needs analysis (both of the process sometimes just called needs analysis), 2. determining the goals and objectives of the course, 3. conceptualizing the content, 4. selecting and developing materials and activities, 5. organizing the content and activities, 6. evaluating. Step 1: Conducting Needs Analysis Needs analysis is the first and fundamental process in designing syllabus. Although there is no definite definition of ESP, all ESP schoolar agree that in designing an ESP course, needs analysis must be taken as the first priority. “..early instruments for establishing needs is by investigating the target situation for which learners were being prepared: needs analysis should be concerned with the establishment of communicative needs and their realizations, resulting from an analysis of the communication in the target situation – what will refer to as target situation analysis” (Chambers, 1980, in Stapa, 2003). In simplest terms, a needs analysis includes all the activities used to collect information about your students' learning needs, wants, wishes, desires, etc… The process also sometimes involves looking at the expectations and requirements of other interested parties such as the teacher/teacher's aid/ tutor (you), administrators, financial supporters, and other people who may be impacted by the program (such as students' family members or employers)

Needs analysis provides the information learners‟ and targets‟ needs. The information is beneficial in drawing the goal and objectives of the teaching learning process. If needs are clear, the learning aims can be expressed more easily and the language course can become motivating. The selection of tasks and materials can also be based on the results of the analysis. The result of the analysis of the learners‟ needs may give clear information of the tasks and material that may appeal them. The needs analysis is also helpful in organising the content and activities since it identifies the sequence of real life activities that could be adopted in the teaching learning process. Knowing the stakeholders‟ needs can also be valuable in determining the standard of achievement in the assessment and evaluation process. In other words, all activities in designing syllabus are dependent on the needs analysis process and result. Steps 2: Determination of Goals and Objectives of the Course A goal is something that wanted to be achieved and in the case of language learning, goals are „general statements of the overall, long term purpose of the course‟ (Graves, 1996, in Xenodohidis, 2006). Goals are related to the acquisition of a job in the future or communication of the target language community (Harmer, 1991, in Xenodohidis, 2006). They should not aim only at the acquisition of certain knowledge and skills but also at the development of a positive attitude towards language and culture. Goals should be realistic, otherwise the students would be de-motivated (Xenodohidis, 2006). Objectives, on the other hand, are the specific ways in which the goals will be achieved (Graves, 1996, in Xenodohidis, 2006). They may refer to „activities, skills, language type or a combination of them all‟ (Harmer, 1991, in Xenodohidis, 2006). Objectives should be congruent to the goals and relevant to how the teacher conceptualize the content of the course (Nunan, 1988, in Xenodohidis, 2006).

The goals and the objectives can be drawn from the results of the needs analysis. Since ESP was situated for the adult learners seeking for employment in the future, the goals and the objectives should relate to those needs. The analysis of the problems faced by the learners can also be considered in shaping the goals and objectives. Steps 3: Content Conceptualization The next process needed to be followed is conceptualizing the content; that is choosing and analysing the necessary content related to the needs analysis and the goals and objectives. Reilly (1988, in Xenodohidis, 2006) gives some practical guidelines to content choice and design. According to Reilly, we need to: 1. define what the students should be able to do as exactly and realistically as possible, as the result of the instruction; 2. rank the syllabi in order of importance according to the desired outcomes; 3. evaluate available resources and match them with the syllabi; 4. designate one or two syllabi as dominant; 5. review how combination and integration of syllabus types can be achieved and in what proportion; 6. and translate decisions into actual teaching units. In this stage, we need to identify language function and language expression related to the jobs. Language functions are things the speakers do with their language in communication (Savignon, 1983). Greeting, giving command, and giving information can be given as examples. Language expressions are utterances that are expressed in an appropriate context for particular function (Van Ek, 1977). Greeting a guest in the morning can use „good morning‟ as the expression. Savignon (1983) states that understanding and mastering language functions and

language expressions are useful for communication. Language functions and language expressions are not only focusing on the grammar accuracy, but also „utterances of communication‟ in which this kind of teaching method is considered to be more meaningful since it focus in based on the target. Cultural understanding needs also taken into consideration. Step 4: Selection and Development of Materials and Activities According to Graves (1996, in Xenodohidis, 2006), in order to select materials the following issues should be taken into account:  Effectiveness in achieving the course purposes  Appropriateness of the materials, so that the students will feel comfortable. This means that the material will be relevant to their interests and language level.  Feasibility, so that the material will be in accordance with the students‟ capabilities and the course will not prove too difficult for them. Choosing materials may mean development of new material, collection of various materials or adaptation of existing ones. The source of materials can be:  From published materials (textbooks, journals, magazines)  From real speech (lecturers, hotel communication, seminars)  Specially written  Simplified and adapted from public materials or instances of real speech. There are some suggestions given by Xenodohidis that beneficial for this stage. According to him, any task aimed at activities should enable the students to deal with situation related to their future employment. The lack of materials can be prevailed over by giving certain task related to the future task. Using semi authentic materials is suggested. Moreover, communication situations need to be involved since they give a different dimension to language

learning. Simulation games and problem solving techniques seemed appropriate and of interest the students. The four language skills need to be related to the real situation activities. Tasks aim at activities, which would enable students to deal with situation related to their future employment.

Step 5: Organization of Content and Activities Course organization is important since it provides the teacher and the students with a clear idea of what will be taught (Xenodohidis, 2006). In addition, Xenodohidis mentioned two principles underlying the concept of sequencing material; building and recycling. Building can follow the process of the simple to the more complex, from concrete to more open ended, while recycling means that the students deal with taught materials in a new way. Another way to consider course organization is as a cycle or as a matrix. In a cyclical approach, the teacher introduces a cycle of activities following a consistent sequence. In a matrix approach, the teacher works with some activities and as time passes, decides with which ones to continue (Graves, 1996, in Xenodohidis, 2006). The content and activities may also be sequenced based on the standard operational procedure (SOP) of the related job. The tasks performed in each duty need to be identified. Those identified tasks are then sequenced based on the operational procedure. The sequenced tasks are again analysed to reveal the language functions and language expression needed for those tasks. Certain information related to the culture understanding and standard performance required for those tasks can also be assessed and analysed. This approach is known as TaskBased Approach (TBA).

Task based approach to language teaching is a recent view which is based on the findings of linguist and psychologist. This approach is against traditional approaches such as PPP (presentation, practice, production) model of teaching (Foster, 1999, in Songhori, 2006). Task based syllabus which is the cornerstone of TBA is defined by Richards, et.al. (1991, in Songhori, 2006) as: “a syllabus which is organised around TASKs, rather than in terms of grammar or vocabulary. For example, syllabus may suggest a variety of different kinds of task which the learner are expected to carry out in the language, such as using the telephone to obtain information; drawing maps based on oral instruction; giving orders and instruction to others, etc.” TBA takes into account the need for authentic material (Willis, 1996, in Songhori, 2006). The activities in TBA are designed to help the students achieve a particular language goal Richards, et.al. (1991, in Songhori). Similarly, Rabinni (2002, in Songhori, 2006) mentions the needs of relevant activities to the real world language needs of the students. It suggests that the activities in which the language is used to complete meaningful tasks enhance learning. Foster (1999, in Songhori, 2006) shares a comment idea that TBA should provide an environment which best promotes the natural language learning process. The approach is assumed effective since it may help the teacher to teach in a systematic sequenced. The learners may also feel it useful since it is related to the real tasks necessitated in the real future job. This assumption is supported by Bowen (in Songhori, 2006), stating that the main advantages of TBA are that language is used for genuine purpose. Gvardjanvic (2001, in Songhori, 2006) reveals that ESP teachers sometimes find it difficult to motivate their professionally oriented students for language learning. Textbooks are considered boring. He suggests the using of real-life tasks. A real-life tasks raises motivation (Gvardjanvic, 2001, in Songhori, 2006).

Steps 6: Assessment and Evaluation Assessment is related to determination of students‟ proficiency whereas evaluation to the process of collecting and interpreting information about an educational program (Nunan, 1990, in Xenodohidis, 2006). In other words, assessment shows what the learner knows and can do in English, whereas evaluation reflects students‟ reason for failing or succeeding and ways of improving their learning. An assessment can also provide feedback on the effectiveness of the course and in general, it would be an on-going part of the entire process. Evaluation of the course should be integrated in the teaching process. The teacher should be able to know whether goals and objectives were met, whether teaching methods were effective, or whether new things and procedures should be involved in the course design process. Since the current study is focusing in analysing the needs of the students, the department, as well as the stakeholder, the discussion will be narrowed to the theoretical and related study reviews of needs analysis.

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