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Issues in Teachers' Professional Development

ISSN 1657-0790 (Print version)
vol.3 no.3 Bogot, Colombia, 2006

Teachers personal English curriculum for learners

Dr. M. Enamul Hoque

The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher
demonstrates. The great teacher inspires (William Arthur Ward). A curriculum is a vital
part of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) classes. It provides a focus for the class and
sets goals for the students throughout their study. It is important for every individual
English teacher to have personal curriculum to teach their students. Effective educational
curriculum combines structure and flexibility. The key is to find a balance so teachers may
practice their craft and feel some autonomy in the classroom. Personal English curriculum
focuses on academic English, critical thinking, reading to build vocabulary and developing
communication skills through listening, speaking and writing. It features culturally
inclusive curriculum with projects that relate to English Language Arts, Social Studies,
Mathematics and Science. The curriculum favours a blended-learning implementation
with individual and collaborative activities, both online and in classroom settings. It
features a modular structure that allows for flexibility for teachers and students alike;
utilizes a project-based approach, as well as learning activities and projects that favor
multicultural perspectives. This paper discusses how personal curriculum can be

1. Introduction
Besides the National Curriculum, every teacher should have their own curriculum
to follow and implement in the class. Personal curriculum is easy to follow because it is
target oriented. A curriculum is defined as the set of courses and their contents as
presented by a nation or institution. In Bangladesh, the NCTB is responsible to develop
national curriculum for different level of education systems. It serves as an educational
construct or framework in which the components of educational principles, objectives,
content, methodology, and evaluation are included. A curriculum also gives the student a
guide and idea to what they will learn and how they have progressed when the course is
over. Although many large English schools have set curriculums for their teachers the
smaller, more abundant English schools tend to let their teachers decide in what way the
classes are conducted. This latter method, as free as it may sound, can cause difficulties
for those who have little or no experience teaching English. From my experiences, in
Bangladesh, I have seen many novice teachers recruited into schools and colleges told to
teach as they see fit. Although they exert great effort and enthusiasm in teaching English

M. Enamul Hoque is a Senior Instructor at Education and Training Wing, Department of Forests and
researcher at Jahangirnagar University, Savar, Dhaka, Bangladesh
Issues in Teachers' Professional Development
ISSN 1657-0790 (Print version)
vol.3 no.3 Bogot, Colombia, 2006
to their students, they soon end up distressed because they cannot find appropriate
teaching methods, guidelines and enough materials to fill up a lesson because of
difficulties finding expansion activities. This is one time where the personal teaching
curriculum can come into play.

A personal teaching curriculum is composed of Basic English conversation topics

which can be used without a textbook or as reinforcement to text centered lessons. This
paper is designed to give new, and seasoned teachers ideas and points on how to develop a
personal teaching curriculum and language targets that will, in turn, benefit the students'
study goals. Thus, a curriculum is an educational blueprint. It is a guideline for what an
education system includes and how it is operated in the present as well as the future. In
this sense, Bangladeshs English curriculum can be regarded as the foundation on which
English education is developed in a desired way. By studying a curriculum, it is possible
to discover what and how to learn and what and how to teach in the English subject at
school. In Bangladesh, education is controlled by the government in terms of the
development and implementation of policies and curricula. Reflecting national policy as
well as societal requirements, English education policies are primarily top-down; most of
the ideas of what to teach and how to teach it are decided by the government. In essence,
the Ministry of Education determines the National Curriculum and as such, its objectives
and content mirror the educational philosophies and principles of the government. As each
new government takes office, it tries to set up its own educational philosophy, and, as a
result, develops a new curriculum for school education. The same principle is applied to
the development of English education. Each new government considered English
education as a major school subject and tried to reflect the governments educational
principles and visions.

The Personal Curriculum (PC) may vary teacher to teacher, levels, and
examination requirements. However, the EFL teachers require the English language
curriculum should enable the students to

gain pleasure and fulfillment from language activity;

develop the skill of listening actively and appreciate the significance of tone of
voice, facial expression and gesture;
learn to understand the conventions of oral language interaction and use oral
language in a variety of social situations;
expand his/her vocabulary and develop a command of grammar, syntax and
become fluent and explicit in communicating ideas and experiences;
explore and develop ideas and concepts through talk, directed discussion and
express intuitions, feelings, impressions, ideas and reactions in response to real
and imaginary situations through talk, discussion and writing;
organise, clarify, interpret and extend experience through oral language activity
and writing;
explore and express reactions to poetry, fiction and the arts, and refine aesthetic
response through oral language activity and writing;
Issues in Teachers' Professional Development
ISSN 1657-0790 (Print version)
vol.3 no.3 Bogot, Colombia, 2006
develop a range of reading skills and abilities that would include phonemic
awareness, word identification strategies and a growing sight vocabulary;
develop an appropriate range of comprehension strategies;
choose his/her reading material and engage in and enjoy sustained silent reading;
write for different purposes and different audiences;
write in variety of genres appropriate to school and outside needs;
share writing and responses to reading experience with other children and adults;
use computer technology in learning to write and for information retrieval; and
enhance reading and writing development through the involvement of parents or

The overarching aim for English in the national curriculum is to promote high
standards of language and literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the
spoken and written word, and to develop their love of literature through widespread
reading for enjoyment. The national curriculum for English aims to ensure that all pupils:

Read easily, fluently and with good understanding

Develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information
Acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of
linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language
Appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage
Write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and
for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences
Use discussion in order to learn; they should be able to elaborate and explain
clearly their understanding and ideas
Are competent in the arts of speaking and listening, making formal presentations,
demonstrating to others and participating in debate

2. Taking a curriculum together

For English teachers in Bangladesh, developing a curriculum is no easy task. It
requires a long period of research concerning the needs of the student(s) and
experimentation. It is important that the teachers keep searching for new ideas to expand
their curriculum. The Internet is a great source to keep up with teaching methods and
ideas. They need to utilize EFL/ESL teaching websites as much as possible to keep pace
with the EFL/ESL industry and to find new ideas. A teacher can develop a yearly
curriculum in accordance with the contents of national curriculum. It is difficult to say
how much English a student should know in a year. It must be understood by all those
studying and supporting other's who are studying, i.e. teachers, that the acquisition of any
language other than one's own is a slow process. Furthermore, it is affected by a number of
factors including:

Exposure to the target language by native speakers

Willingness of the student to experiment with the target language
Personal confidence in self
Learning ability
The amount of vocabulary the student knows
Issues in Teachers' Professional Development
ISSN 1657-0790 (Print version)
vol.3 no.3 Bogot, Colombia, 2006
The following concept map is aimed at exploring the understanding and beliefs
about foreign language teaching and learning and about the development of curriculum.
Teachers may write down all the concepts and ideas they relate to the questions and
statements provided below, trying to address the three questions posed in the two
bubbles as thoroughly as possible.

Figure: Teacher concept map for curriculum design

The following section contains focus points teachers might find useful for creating
their curriculum. Primarily, this is for students at the junior secondary level (grades 6-8),
but it can be modified for secondary and higher secondary level, and can be applied to
large or small classes. It provides a basis on what a teacher might want to focus on and
assumes that the student will continue with the teacher for next years. The first two years
focus on essential language targets for building basic skills while the third year
concentrates on practical and spontaneous application. Teachers may want to consider the
grammar and conversation points while developing a curriculum for junior secondary

Making self introductions (i.e. name, age or where the student lives)
Subjective pronouns
The "wh" question words what, where and when
Auxiliary question words involving like, do and can
Corresponding "yes/no" answers to auxiliary questions
The use of this and that, these and those
Tell information such as objects, time, date (w/ month name) and weather.
Develop a large vocabulary of nouns and basic verbs
Simple commands
Understand the basic phonics of English letters
Issues in Teachers' Professional Development
ISSN 1657-0790 (Print version)
vol.3 no.3 Bogot, Colombia, 2006
Teachers may want to consider these grammar and conversation points while
developing a curriculum for secondary level students. Also, include time for review of the
previous year's lessons.

Possessive pronouns
Past tense and present continuous tense
Make simple sentences using adjectives to modify nouns
Give more descriptive information about objects, time, etc.
Understand "wh" question words who, which and how
Have increased vocabulary to include more verbs and adjectives
Have an understanding of blended phonics
Have simple knowledge of English grammar (subject-verb-object) in easily
understood concepts, e.g. I like I wantor I can

Teachers may want to consider these grammar and conversation points while
developing a curriculum for SSC students. Also, include time for review of previous year's

Have students communicate simple thoughts without prompting

Get students to ask questions involving the above-mentioned "wh" and auxiliary
questions, i.e. "What sports (fruits, games, etc.) do you like?"
Have students read and understand simple sentences.
Have students recognize objects and describe them with little pause.

If a student continues to study he or she should have well developed English skills
if they have mastered the language targets mentioned above. This means the student has
the ability to recognize simple questions and answer them using a variety of objects. The
EFL teachers should not worry if the students may still not be able to formulate fluent
answers because some may lack adequate daily exposure to English. For most students
there are few, if any, opportunities to hear various accents, dialects and pronunciations as
well as syntax structures. Overall, the points mentioned should be used as a blueprint for
teachers to create their own method of teaching. Some teachers try to combine their own
teaching style and curriculum into their textbook oriented classes. For example, one week
might include a lesson with activities particular to the teacher while the next week might
focus on the textbook lesson. This is a good method as it gives the students exposure to
English outside the textbook. This works very well if the teacher can change the focus of
their curriculum to match that of the text series employed by the particular school.

3. Guidelines for curriculum design

Good textbooks at secondary level contain lesson that introduce simple dialogue
and expand on it gradually. They are also prime examples on how to build your personal
curriculum. The text book can provide the basis of the lesson while your curriculum can
help the student to develop skills in order to language beyond what the textbook lesson
teaches. I find that text series that employ lesson where the students can change the object
of sentences are especially good for teaching students how to use their creative talents to
produce real language. The textbook lessons should be clear enough so that the teacher can
develop a lesson plan without the use of a teacher's book. An example of a clear lesson
Issues in Teachers' Professional Development
ISSN 1657-0790 (Print version)
vol.3 no.3 Bogot, Colombia, 2006
might be on giving and receiving things and the use of polite language. Perhaps the page
shows a person giving a friend a gift and says "Here you are". The friend takes it and
replies with "Thank you". This is followed with "You're welcome". Upon reviewing the
lesson in the student text the teacher can quickly become familiar with what the students
will be learning and be able to prepare expansion activities based on what the students see
in the book. Supplement activity suggestions and expansion ideas should be included in
the teacher's book. I have seen step by step instructions on how to teach the lesson and
even translations and pronunciation guides on how to say various phrases in the students'
native language in many teacher books. This can be helpful for teachers teaching low level

4. Strengthening of curriculum
It is suggested that increased emphasis on four skills of language may have
facilitated the teachers' efforts to negotiate satisfying teacher roles: content specific
pedagogical knowledge; knowledge of the relationship between curriculum and teacher
role; self; and teacher development. Reinforcement activities are necessary to allow the
student to try to use the new language skills in a practical sense. Teachers must include
huge number of activities that allow the student to use the target language orally, i.e. role
playing. Games work especially well for students as well as secondary students and, if the
right games are chosen, for adults, too. Furthermore, games provide a challenge arena so
those who are reluctant to participate in a practice session might be more responsive when
the spirit of competition is aroused. Worksheet activities also provide good reinforcement
and review. Using a variety of workbooks from different series can provide a wealth of
activities for reading and writing.

6. A balanced approach to assessment

The principal function of assessment is to provide the teacher with an accurate
picture of the students language development. This will enable him/her to create the
learning contexts and design the teaching strategies most appropriate to the needs of
individual pupils. A great proportion of the teachers assessment will involve the use of
less structured methods and will be an integral part of the teaching process. Assessment
techniques like observation, teacher-designed tasks and tests and the use of work samples
and/or portfolios are, by their nature, subjective. It is important, therefore, that teachers
moderate their standards and criteria against a broader base of teacher experience. In using
the more structured forms of assessment and in recording the results of assessment
generally it is important to ensure that only a minimum of pupil-teacher time is involved.
In particular, the design of curriculum profiles should be such as to facilitate the easy
recording of the maximum amount of information. It is important also that children have
some experience of doing tests before any information about language development is
extrapolated from them.

7. Recording and communicating

By using an appropriate range of the different assessment tools the teacher can
monitor students language development. If this monitoring process is to be effective it is
important that he/she adopts a method of recording the relevant information in an
Issues in Teachers' Professional Development
ISSN 1657-0790 (Print version)
vol.3 no.3 Bogot, Colombia, 2006
accessible form that is compatible with assessment in other areas of the curriculum. This
will facilitate continuing communication with the principal, other members of staff and
parents. It will also assist the teacher in eliciting feed-back from parents that will enable
him/her to plan more effectively language learning programmes for individual children.

8. Conclusion
The Personal Curriculum (PC) is a process to modify specific credit requirements
and/or content expectations based on the individual learning needs of a student. PCs are
designed to serve students who want to accelerate or go beyond the exam requirements
and students who need to individualize learning requirements to meet the requirements. In
conclusion, I feel that it is important for all teachers of ESL or EFL to develop a style
which is comfortable for them to teach yet at the same time challenging for the students.
Once the teacher gets a feel for developing personal curriculums he or she can start
applying their techniques to English for special purposes classes, English test classes and
high level conversation classes such as business English. This method only suggests the
basic ideas on what things should be considered when developing a personal curriculum.
With careful consideration and keeping the student's needs and abilities in mind an EFL
teacher can progress from novice teacher to skilled EFL educator.


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