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NEGOTIATED SYLLABUS

By: Fauzi Miftakh

Introduction
In teaching English as a second or foreign language, syllabus has important roles
towards the process of teaching and learning. Syllabus consists of content that determines
how the process of teaching and learning runs and the learning objectives for students.
Thus, a good content in syllabus will affect a good result in the learning process. It is
supported by Krahnke (1987:9) that defines content is only one element of some actual
teaching syllabi that include behavioral or learning objectives for students, specifications
of how the content will be taught, and how it will be evaluated. In general, the content of
syllabus is determined and made by teacher including the materials and other parts of
syllabus. Then the syllabus is given to students in the first meeting of a class to be
learned as the preparation of whole study. However, in some moment, the students can
also involve in making the syllabus and decide the content that they want to study. Thus,
there is a syllabus that can be negotiated by the teacher and students to have the same
objectives of learning. This type of syllabus is called negotiated syllabus.
According to Nation and Macalister (2010:149), a negotiated syllabus involves
the teacher and the learners working together to make decisions at many of the parts of
the curriculum design process. In addition, Breen & Littlejohn (2000: 1) describes
negotiated syllabus as “the discussion between all members of the classroom to decide
how learning and teaching are to be organized. Breen (1987) cited in Nation and
Macalister (2010: 149) also adds that negotiated syllabuses are also called “process
syllabuses”. He adds that the word process in the term process syllabus indicates that the
important feature of this type of syllabus is that it focuses on how the syllabus is made
rather than what should be in it. Therefore, it can be concluded that a syllabus is possibly
negotiated especially on how it is created, planned, and discussed by teacher and
students.
However, there are some situations that most possibly influence in applying
negotiated syllabus. Breen and Littlejohn (2000: 272-3) list the situations are as follows:
- Where the teacher and students have different backgrounds.
- Where time is short and the most useful choices must be made.
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Where initial needs analysis is not possible. from work in individualisation and learner autonomy. Negotiating Assessment 4. Moreover.Where there is a very diverse group of students and there is a need to find common ground. and from learner strategy research which sees the learner playing a central role in determining how the language is learned.Where the students’ past experiences must be part of the course. The coverage of the topic can be seen in the following list: 1. It is also stated by Clarke (1991) in Nation and Macalister (2010: 149) that negotiated syllabuses arising from humanistic methodologies like community language learning which are very learner-centred. An Example of a Negotiated Syllabus 2 . However. . Breen and Littlejohn (2000: 34–38) point out that a negotiated syllabus involves the steps of (1) negotiating the goals.. the discussion of this topic covers some materials related to the negotiated syllabus that will be discussed in the next section. .Where there is no course book. format and assessment of the course. . (3) evaluating the effect of the implementation in terms of outcomes and the way the implementation was done. there is consideration that negotiated syllabus tends to make students as the center of learning because they are actively give their opinion and suggestion to the teacher in making syllabus. (2) implementing these negotiated decisions. Requirements for a Negotiated Syllabus 2. Syllabuses with Some Elements Negotiated 3.Where the course is open-ended and exploratory. Furthermore. Disadvantages and Advantages of a Negotiated Syllabus 5. . from needs analysis which focuses on learners’ needs. content. it is not easily decided in what parts a syllabus can be negotiated because there are still some debate among people.

6. Fourthly. the participant in the course planning will cover a question that is: Who will work with whom? The range of answers to this question includes individual work. and are made through discussion by the teacher and the learners. Requirements for a Negotiated Syllabus Breen (1987) cited in Nation and Macalister (2010:152) describes the decisions to be negotiated in a negotiated (process) syllabus and the materials needed to make it work.Developing Negotiated Syllabus A. Course planning: participation. Course planning: learning goals. Resources and materials. and the teacher working with the whole class. extensive reading. A requirement of a negotiated syllabus is that there is a large amount of resource material available to draw on or which the teacher and learners can readily produce. Thirdly. The range of decisions to evaluate includes the kind of participation. Course evaluation. 3 . guided writing. the question arises from learning goals of course planning is: What will be the focus of the work? And the range of possible answers includes increasing speaking fluency. and learning how to understand and give directions. pair work. 5. The fifth. critical step in the negotiated syllabus is continual evaluation of the previous decisions and the learning resources. groups working with the teacher. Secondly. This evaluation should then lead to re-negotiation. The decisions include the following. the kinds of activities. Negotiation procedure. 4. learning new vocabulary. the material used in the activities. and oral drills. information gap tasks. Some questions arise when we firstly concern to the negotiation procedure such as: How will the negotiation be carried out? When will it be done? How often will it be done? Who has the responsibility for organising it? Who has the responsibility for checking that what is negotiated is actually done? 2. the procedure of course planning has a question to answer that is: What kinds of activity will be worked on? And the range of answers is many and may include role play. Course planning: procedure. 3. 1. learning how to organise written assignments. and the learning outcomes.

Here are some possibilities of ways in dividing up the syllabus. One or more parts of the inner circle of the curriculum design diagram is open to negotiation. 2.B. According to Clarke (1980) in Nation and Macalister (2010: 152). Syllabuses with Some Elements Negotiated Breen’s description of a negotiated syllabus is at one end of the scale. Breen and Littlejohn (2000: 40) point out that there are four major factors affecting feedback through assessment: 1. The classes for one or more language skills. A fixed lesson or time of the day is set aside for negotiated activities. while the teacher retains control of language focus. Whether or not they believe they can act on the basis of the feedback in a way that solves a recognised problem. The coincidence between what the feedback focuses upon and what the students themselves have recognised as particularly difficult for them. C. an hour each Friday afternoon is used for activities that the learners and teacher have negotiated. it is possible to have a syllabus within which some parts or some aspects are negotiated while others are left under the control of the teacher or curriculum designer. 3. Negotiating Assessment Negotiation of assessment and evaluation has direct effects on goals and ways of achieving these goals. the learners negotiate the types of reading activities that they will do. One or more of the four types of decisions described above (participation. For example. such as free-speaking activities. evaluation) is open for negotiation. 4 . 1. 3. the ideas content of the lessons can be negotiated. For example. The extent to which students are aware of the criteria being used. are planned through negotiation. 4. learning goals. For example. There are several ways of dividing up the syllabus. The relative emphasis given to what they have achieved as compared with what they have failed to achieve. 2. procedure. 4. presentation and assessment.

The assessment is seen as including not only the results of tests and assigned tasks. Smith (2000) in Breen and Littlejohn (2000: 55) describes a very effective way of negotiating assessment. and a positive.This negotiated assessment very effectively takes account of the four factors described above by including awareness of the criteria for assessment. and formative focus. and class projects. homework. The assessment negotiation can be seen in the following table. 5 . relevant. There are two ways of sample assessment form that can be negotiated: 1) The components and percentage weightings of the components of assessment were negotiated with the class. The second major disadvantage is that a fully negotiated syllabus requires considerable teacher skill and time in accessing and producing resources. Where there are several teachers with similar classes. Component Weight Pupil’s Teacher’ (%) mark s mark Doing homework 10 8 6 Level of homework 20 16 17 Participation in class 10 9 7 Individual progress 10 5 8 Projects 30 26 27 Test results 20 15 15 100 79 80 (not negotiated) Total D. Nation and Macalister (2010:155) point out the disadvantages of a negotiated syllabus that are divided into two major types. This informed and involved approach to assessment will clearly have positive effects on learning. Disadvantages and Advantages of a Negotiated Syllabus Every variant of syllabus must have disadvantages and advantages including negotiated syllabus. Learners may be reluctant to negotiate or to let their classmates negotiate because they feel it should be the teacher’s expertise guiding the course. and 2) Each individual negotiated their particular marks with the teacher. but also participation in class. The first is the result of a lack of knowledge or experience with such a syllabus. this load can be partly shared.

There are not a lot of teaching resources to draw on.The teacher’s workload is less if the teacher teaches exactly the same lessons to . . .Cultural expectations make learners reluctant to negotiate with the teacher. . .Negotiation will have a negative effect on students’ attitudes to the course because the teacher is not taking control of the course.The school expects all learners in different classes to follow the same course. . This understanding may then make them better learners. . Table of Problems in implementing a negotiated syllabus Learner factors Teacher factors .The learners have limited awareness of the possible activities. .The learners lack confidence in negotiating with the teacher. the advantages of a negotiated syllabus come largely from its responsiveness to the “wants” of the learners and the involvement of the learners. The problems are divided to learners and teachers’ factors.The learners are perfectly happy to let the teacher teach. . . satisfaction and commitment to the course.With no course book learners do not feel a sense of progress. Nation and Macalister (2010:166) mention that involving the learners in shaping the syllabus has a strong effect on motivation. In the other hand.several different classes. then this may be some of the most involving meaning-focused activity in the programme. . . In addition. If the negotiation is carried out in English.The teacher is not skilful enough to cope with short-term planning.The learners need training in negotiation. .What is done in your class needs to be similar to what is done in the rest of the school.Negotiation uses valuable class time. The actual negotiation process has its benefits.Here are the problems in implementing a negotiated syllabus. It changes from being the teacher’s course to the learners’ course. . .The needs of the learners are too diverse to reach agreement.Learners’ wants are only a small part of learners’ needs. Breen (1987) cited in Nation and Macalister (2010:166) argues strongly that all courses have to adjust in some way to the reality of the teaching situation and the negotiated syllabus gives clear recognition to this. 6 . The negotiation also develops learners’ awareness of the goals of language-learning activities and how these goals can be achieved.

They come from a wide variety of countries and will do their post-graduate study in a wide range of disciplines. The groups report back and the list on the board is revised. “Now that you have settled in and have experienced some typical classes. The next step is to rank the items in the list and fit them into the class timetable. For the first two weeks of class the teacher follows a set programme involving a large variety of activities. There are some differences in the example such as in choosing the time for beginning the negotiation. Example of a Negotiated Syllabus This section provides an example of a negotiated syllabus. Here is the example of negotiated syllabus in a class that consists of a group of adult graduate students preparing for post-graduate university study through the medium of English. The teacher sometimes calls on some of the learners to help with preparation and material for the class in order to 7 .E. 1. etc. Macalister (2007) was concerned with quickly meeting the ESP “wants” of engineering students. 4. If the learners wish they can discuss the list some more. and used ranking and consensus-building activities in the first class to find out what their “wants” were. The resulting timetable with its activities then becomes the timetable for the next one or two weeks. After much trial and error. 2. Boon (2005) began on the first day because his fee-paying students were enrolled on a short course. This again is done in small groups and then with the class as a whole. and then working in small groups discuss what should be removed from the list. it is time for you to take an active part in deciding what we will do for the next two weeks. and what should be added to it. During this discussion the learners negotiate with each other and with the teacher. assignments. when it is then renegotiated. there are some explanations about the example of negotiated syllabus. In nation and Macalister (2010:151). The teacher and the class members list the activities and parts of the course on the board. At the end of the two-week period the teacher tells the class.” 3. but in which there were many items and procedures (methods of learning.) that were negotiable. 5. Irujo (2000) decided that negotiation of an MA teaching methodology course was best done by presenting course members with a draft syllabus in which some items were non-negotiable.

4) The teacher wanted todevelop credibility with the class before passing much of the control to them. it will develop their goals of language-learning and make them better learners. Therefore. CONCLUSION Boomer et. The example of negotiated syllabus above can be categorized as a conservative or cautious example of a negotiated syllabus. For learners. For teachers. 2) most of the learners had not experienced a pre-university course before and so the teacher wanted to show them some of the range of goals and activities available. teachers and the other stake holders’ must understand what negotiated syllabus is and their decision in choosing this kind of syllabus are essential since there are also some disadvantages of this syllabus. he suggests that the implementation of a negotiated syllabus should be open to discussion by scholars and curriculum designers. If there are 8 . this variant of syllabus cannot be applied in all situations. encourage students and increase their selfconfidence. Therefore. (1992) have shown that classroom negotiation makes the teaching program more appropriate for learners’ needs. al. 3) the teacher wanted to show what he saw as important for the learners and what he taught well. It is supported by a research conducted by Ozturk (2013:39). negotiated syllabus somehow is important to be used in teaching and learning process both for learners and teachers. it will help to decide appropriate materials to provide to learners especially for a new teacher that does not know very well the situation of the environment and the background of students which are different However.cope with the short class preparation time that such negotiation sometimes results in. develop learner-centeredness and autonomy. Teachers have to look into the conditions that the syllabus may appropriate to use as stated in the previous section. It also includes the negotiated syllabus that most probably concern to the learners’ need rather than teachers’ wants. Teachers also must carefully understand the requirements and elements of negotiated syllabus because they have strong influence to the successful of applying a negotiated syllabus. It is because the class did not start with a negotiated syllabus from the very first day of class. It was caused by dome factors that is. 1) many of the learners came from backgrounds where teachers are highly respected and would feel very uncomfortable telling the teacher what to do. several of which might be new to them.

Boomer. J. International Journal on New Trends in Education and Their Implications 4... (2000). Lester. P. Approaches to Syllabus Design for Foreign Language Teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.. and Macalister. A Negotiated Syllabus: Potential Advantages and Drawbacks in English Preparatory Programs at Universities. Nation. 2: 35-40 9 . J.P. Englewood Cliffs: New Jersey. REFERENCES Breen. I.too many disadvantages of syllabus may come up. K. (2010). Language Curriculum Design. G. (1992). (2013). Krahnke. G. C. and Littlejohn. Negotiating the curriculum: Educating for the 21st century. Ozturk. it is better not to apply it. London: Falmer. M. New York: Routledge. & Cook. Onore. N. S. negotiated syllabus is more appropriate to apply in level of university rather than elementary or high school since the learners must have negotiation skill that is not owned by young learners. 1987. In addition. Classroom Decision-Making. A.