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SEE 18:


Definitions of Curriculum
Some authors define curriculum as the total effort of the school to bring about desired outcomes in
school and out-of-school situations.
It is also defined as a sequence of potential experiences set up in school for the purpose of disciplining
children and youth in group ways of thinking and acting.
Coles, 2003
A curriculum is more than a list of topics to be covered by an educational programme, for which the
more commomly accepted word is a syllabus.
It is first of all a policy statement about a piece of education, and secondly an indication as to the ways
in which that policy is to be realized through a programme of action.
It is the sum of all the activities, experiences and learning opportunities for which an institution (such as
the society) or a teacher (such as a faculty member) takes responsibility - either deliberately or by
Wojtczak, 2002
May be defined as an educationl plan that spells out which goals and objectives should be achieved,
which topics should be covered, and which methods are to be used for learning, teaching and evaluation.
Tanner, 1980
Is the planned and guided learning experiences and intended learning outcomes, formulated through the
systematic reconstruction of knowledge and experiences, under the auspices of the school, for the
learners' continuous and wilful growth in personal social competence.
Garcia, 1976
The term curriculum refers to the sum total of organized learning stated as educational ends, activities, school
subjects and/or topics decided upon and provided within an educational institution for the attainment of the
Stenhouse, 1975
A curriculum is an attempt to communicate the essential principles and features of an educational
proposal in such a form that it is open to critical scrutiny and capable of effective translation into
practice'. A curriculum is rather like a recipe in cookery
Definition(s) of Curriculum
is a structured set of learning outcomes or task that educators usually call goals and objectives. ( Howell
and Evans 1995)
is the what of teaching.
listing of subjects to be taught in school.
A document which describes a structured series of learning objectives and outcomes for a given subject
matter area.
Includes a specification of what should be learned, how it should be taught, and the plan for
implementing/assessing the learning.
One aspect of curriculum development but is not identical with it.
A syllabus is a specification of the content of a course of instruction and lists what will be taught and
Syllabus design is the process of developing a syllabus. (Richards, 2001)
Is a more comprehensive process than syllabus design. It includes the processes that are used:
to determine the needs of a group of learners,
to develop aims or objectives for a program to address those needs,
to determine an appropriate syllabus, course structure, teaching methods and materials, and:
to carry out an evaluation of the language program that results from these processes.
It is defined as the process of selecting, organizing, executing, and evaluating learning experiences on
the basis of the needs, abilities and interests of the learners and the nature of the society or community.
The Ideology of the Curriculum
In developing goals for educational programs, curriculum planners draw on their understanding both on
the present and long-term needs of learners and of society as well as the planners' beliefs and values
about schools, learners, and teachers.
These beliefs and values are sometimes referred to as curriculum ideologies, and represent the
philosophical underpinnings for educational programs and the justification for the kinds of aim they
Each of the five curriculum perspectives or ideologies below emphasizes a different approach to the role of
language in the curriculum (Richards, 2001).
1. Academic Rationalism
The justification for the aims of curriculum stresses the:
- intrinsic value of the subject matter and its role in developing the learner's intellect,
- humanistic values, and;
- rationality.
The content matter of different subjects is viewed as the basis for a curriculum.
Mastery of content is an end in itself rather than a means to solving social problems or providing
efficient means to achieve the goals of policy makers.
2. Social and Economic Efficiency
It emphasizes the:
- practical needs of learners and society, and;
- the role of an educational program in producing learners who are economically productive.
Bobbit (1918), one of the founders of curriculum theory, advocated this view of curriculum.
CD was seen as based on scientific principles, its practitioners were educational engineers whose job was to
discover the total range of habits, skills, abilities, forms of thoughts... etc., that its members need for the
effective performance of their vocational labors.
In language teaching, this philosophy leads to an emphasis on practical and functional skills in a foreign or
second language (L2).
3. Learner-centeredness
In language teaching, this educational philosophy is leading to an emphasis on process rather than product, a
focus on:
- learner's differences,
- learner's strategies, and;
- learner's self-direction and autonomy.
4. Social Reconstructionism
It emphasizes the:
- roles of the schools, and;
- learners can and should play in addressing social injustices and inequality.
Morris (1995) observes:
The curriculum derived from this perspective focuses on:
- developing knowledge, skills and attitudes which would create a world where people care about each other,
- the environment, and;
- the distribution of wealth.
Tolerance, the acceptance of diversity and peace would be encouraged. Social injustices and inequality
would be central issues in the curriculum.
1. Cultural Pluralism
This philosophy argues that schools should prepare students to participate in several different cultures
and not merely the culture of the dominant social and economic group.
Cultural pluralism seeks to:
- redress racism,
- raise the self-esteem of minority groups, and;
- help children appreciate the viewpoints of other cultures and religions (Philips and Terry, 1999).
Curriculum Planning
A Curriculum Planning is the process whereby the arrangement of curriculum plans or learning
opportunities are created.
Taba's outline (1962) of the steps which a course designer must work through to develop subject matter
courses has become the foundation for many other writers' suggestions. Her list of curriculum
processes includes the following:
Diagnosis of needs
Formulation of objectives
Selection of content
Selection of learning experiences
Organization of learning experiences
Determination of what to evaluate, and the means to evaluate
Decisions in Curriculum Construction
Curriculum development revolves around three major curricular elements (Garcia, 1976):
1. decisions on what to teach which are educational ends generated at three levels of specificity and
immediacy (educational aims, educational objectives, and instructional objectives) to the learner,
2. decisions on how to teach, concerned with strategies in terms of selecting and organizing learning
opportunities, and;
3. decisions concerning the extent to which educational ends are being attained through the strategies of
means provided.

Key Features of a Curriculum

Learning is planned and guided. What is sought to be achieved and how it is to be achieved should be
specified in advance.
The definition refers to schooling. It should be recognized that current appreciation of curriculum theory and
practice emerged in the school and in relation to other schooling ideas such as subject and lesson.
1. Curriculum as a body of knowledge to be transmitted.
2. Curriculum as an attempt to achieve certain ends in students - product.
3. Curriculum as process.
4. Curriculum as praxis.
The TheoreticalThe PracticalThe Productive
Syllabus Process Product
Principles Underlying the Language Curriculum
The language curriculum is based on the belief that literacy is critical to responsible and productive citizenship,
and that all students can become literate.
The curriculum is designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills that they need to achieve this
goal. It aims to help students become successful language learners, who share the following characteristics:
understand that language learning is necessary, life-enhancing, reflective process;
communicate - that is, read, listen, view, speak, write, and represent - effectively and with confidence;
make meaningful connections among themselves, what they encounter in texts, and the world around
think critically;
understand that all texts advance a particular point of view that must be recognized, questioned, assessed
and evaluated;
appreciate the cultural impact and aesthetic power of texts;
use language to interact and connect with individuals and communities, for personal growth, and for
active participation as world citizens
1. What educational purposes should the school seek to attain?
2. What educational experiences can be provided that are likely to attain these purposes?
3. How can these educational experiences be effectively organized?
4. How can we determine whether these purposes are being attained?
(Tyler, 1950)
Reduced to a simpler model:
Aims and objectives
Tyler's model or variations of it soon penetrated wide areas of educational thought and practice and
curriculum and training manuals were soon full of models such as the following (Inglis, 1975):
Aims Objectives
Strategies Tactics
Methods Techniques
Evaluation Consolidation
Nicholls and Nicholls (1972), for example, describe curriculum development as involving four stages:
a. The careful examination, drawing on all available sources of knowledge and informed judgment, of the
objectives of teaching, whether in particular subject courses or over the curriculum as a whole.
b. The development and trial used in schools of those methods and materials which are judged most likely
to achive the objectives which teachers agreed upon.
c. The assessment of the extent to which the development work has in fact achieved its objectives. This
part of the process may be expected to provoke new thought about the objectives themselves.
d. The final element is therefore feedback of all the experience gained, to provide a starting point for
further study.
Stages, decision-making roles and products in curriculum development (from Johnson 1989)
The term goal and aim are used interchangeably to refer to a description of the general purposes of a
curriculum and objective to refer to a more specific and concrete description of purposes.

An aim : refers to a statement of a general change that a program seeks to bring about in learners.

Purposes of Aim Statements

- to provide a clear definition of the purposes of a program
- to provide guidelines for teachers, learners, and materials writers
- to help provide a focus for construction
- to describe important and realizable changes in learning

Aims statements reflect the ideology of the curriculum and show how the curriculum will seek to realize it.
(Renandaya and Richards, 2002)

The following are examples of aim statements from different kinds of language programs (Renandaya and
Richard, 2002).

A Business English Course:

to develop basic communication skills for use in business contexts.

to learn how to participate in casual conversation with other employees in a workplace.
to learn how to write effective business letters.

A Course for Hotel Employees:

to develop the communication skills needed to answer telephone calls in a hotel.

to deal with guest inquiries and complains.
to explain and clarify charges on a guest's bill.
Aim statements are generally derived from informaton gathered during a needs analysis.

For example, the following areas of difficulty were some of those identified for non-English background
students studying in the English-medium universities:

understanding lectures
participating seminars
taking notes during lectures
reading at adequate speed to be able to complete reading assignments
presenting ideas and information in an organized way in a written assignment

In developing aim statements, it is important to describe more than simply the activities that students will
take part in.
For example the following are not aims:
Students will learn about business letter writing in English.
Students will learn study listening skills.
Students will practice composition skills in English.
For these to become aims they need to focus on the changes that will result in the learners.
For example:

In order to give a more precise focus to program goals, aims are often accompanied by statements of more
specific purposes.
These statements are known as objectives or also referred to as instructional objectives or teaching objectives.

An objective: refers to a statement of specific changes a program seeks to bring about and result from an
analysis of the aim into its different components.
They describe what the aims seek to achieve in terms of smaller units of learning.
They provide a basis for the organization of teaching activities.
They describe learning in terms of observable behaviour or performance.

Advantages of Describing Aims In Terms of Objectives

They facilitate planning:
once objectives have been agreed on, course planning, materials preparation, textbook selection and related
processes can begin.

They provide measurable outcomes and thus provide accountability:

given a set of ojectives, the success or failure of a program to teach the objectives can be measured.

They are prescriptive:

they describe how planning should proceed and do away with subjective interpretations and personal opinions.

For example in relation to the activity of understanding lectures, aims and objectives such as the
following can be described:
Aim: Students will learn how to understand lectures given in English.

Students will be able to follow an argument, theme or thesis of a lecture.
Students will learn how to recognize the following aspects of a lecture:
- cause and effect relationship
- comparisons and contrasts
- premises used in persuasive arguments
- supporting details used in persuasive arguments.

Characteristics of Statements of Objectives(Renandaya ad Richards, 2002)

1. Objectives describe a learning outcome
In writing objectives, expressions like will study, will learn about,will prepare students for are avoided since
they do not describe the result of learning but rather what students will do during a course.
Objectives can generally be described with phrases like will have, will learn how to, will be able to.

2. Objectives should be consistent with the curriculum aim

Only objectives that clearly serve to realize an aim should be included. For example, the objective below is
unrelated to the curriculum aim.
Aim: Students will learn how to write effective business letters for use in the hotel and tourism industries.
Objective: The student can understand and respond to simple questions over the telephone.

* Since the aim relates to writing business letters, an objective in the domain of telephone skills is not consistent
with the aim. Either the aim statement should be revised to allow for this objective or the objective should not
be included.

3. Objectives should be precise

Objectives that are vague and ambiguous are not useful. This is seen in the in the following objective for a
conversation course.

Students will know how to use useful conversation expressions.

A more precise objective would be:

Students will use conversation expressions for greeting people, opening and closing conversations.
4. Objectives should be feasible
Objectives should describe outcomes that are attainable in the time available during a course.
The following objective is not attainable in a 60 hour English course:

Students will be able to follow conversations spoken by native speakers.

The following is a more feasible objective:

Students will be able to get the gist of short conversations in simple English on topic related to daily life
and leisure.
Prepare three sample objectives related to this aim:
- Students will learn how to recognize figures of speech used in English.

The Separate Purpose of a Curriculum and Syllabus

The course designers' full responsibility is that of....

setting not only broad, general goals but also specifying objectives which are made accessible to all
those involved with the program.
Curriculum vs. Syllabus
- contains a broad descripition of general goals by indicating:
EDUCATIONAL-CULTURAL PHILOSOPHY which applies across subjects together witha


- with respect to the subject matter at hand.
- is often reflective of national and political trends as well.
- more detailed and operational statement of teaching and learning elements which translates the philosophy
of the curriculuminto a series of planned steps leading towardsmore narrowly defined objectives at each level.

An important reason for differentiating between the two is to stress that a single curriculum can be the basis for
developing a variety of specific syllabi which are concerned with:

locally defined audiences

particular needs
intermediate objectives
Since the curriculum is concerned with a general rationale formulating policy decisions,

it combines: educational-cultural goals with language goals.

For example, an overall educational approach could focus on one of the following major goals:
a. a behavioristic orientation considers the human species to be a passive organism, reacting to external,
environmental stimuli;
b. a rational-cognitive orientation considers the human species to be the source and initiator of national acts;

c. a humanistic orientation is concerned with each individual's growth and development, while emphasizing
affective factors as well.

THE BEHAVIORISTIC VIEW is an educational-psychological philosophy which is compatible with a

structuralist view of language and a stimulus response view about human language learning.

THE RATIONAL-COGNITIVE ORIENTATION became strongly reflected in the views of human language
proposed by transformational-generative linguistics in the 1960s and was associated with the cognitive-code
approach to language learning.
Contemporary approaches which link a rational-cognitive view with a communicative orientation towards
language use.


Developed by Gattegno (1972). has distinct affinities with a rational-cognitive orientation they both emphasize
the learning of language forms.

Developed by Krashen and Terrel (1983). has much in common with other contemporary views which
emphasize the importance of listening and comprehension at the onset of learning.


has been closely associated with the communicative view of language.
Although six different types of language teaching syllabi are treated here as though each occured purely, in
practice, these types rarely occur independently of each other.
Almost all actual language-teaching syllabi are combination of two or more of the types.
The characteristics, differences, strengths, and weaknesses of individual syllabi are defined as follows:

The content of language teaching is a collection of the forms and structures, usually grammatical, of the
language being taught.
Examples include nouns, verbs, adjectives, statements, questions, subordinate clauses, and so on.

The content of the language teaching is a collection of the functions that are performed when language is used,
or of the notions that a language is used to express.
Examples (Functions): informing, agreeing, apologizing, requesting
Examples (Notions): age, size, color, comparison, time and so on.

The content of the language teaching is a collection of real or imaginary situations in which language occurs is
A situation usually involves several participants who are engaged in some activity in a specific meeting.
The language occuring in the situation involves a number of functions, combined into plausible segment of

The primary purpose of a situational language-teaching syllabus is to teach the language that occurs in the
Examples: seeing the dentist, complaining to the landlord, buying a book at the bookstore, meeting a new
student, and so on.

The content of the language teaching is a collection of specific abilities that may play a part using language.

Skills are things that people must be able to be competent in a language, relatively independently of the
situation or setting in which the language use can occur.
While the situational syllabi group functions together into specific settings of the language use, skill-based
syllabi group linguistic competencies (pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar, and discourse) together into
generalized types of behavior (listening to a spoken language for the main idea, writing well-formed
paragraphs, giving effective oral presentations, and so on.)
The primary purpose of the skill-based instruction is to learn the specific language skill.

A possible secondary purpose of the skill-based instructions is to develop more general competence in the
language, learning only incidentally any information that may be available while applying the language skills.

The content of the teaching is a series of complex and purposeful tasks that the students want or need to perform
with the language they are learning.

The tasks are defined as activities with a purpose other than language learning, but, as in the content-based
syllabus, the performance of the tasks is approached in a way intended to develop L2 ability.
Tasks integrate language (and other) skills in specific settings of the language.

Task-based teaching differs from situation-based teaching in that while situational teaching has the goal of
teaching the specific language content that ocurs in the situation (pre-defined products), task-based teaching has
the goal of teaching students to draw on resources to complete some piece of work (a process).
The students draw on a variety of language forms, functions, and skills in an individual and unpredictable way,
in completing the tasks.

Tasks can be used for language learning are, generally, tasks that the learners actually have to perform in any

Examples: applying for a job, talking with a social worker, getting housing information over the telephone, and
so on.

The primary purpose of the instruction is to teach some content or information using the language that the
students are also learning.
The students are simultaneously language students of whatever content is being taught.
The subject matter is primary, and the language learning occurs incidentally to the content learning.
The content teaching is not organized around the language teaching, but vice-versa.

Content-based language teaching is concerned with information, while task-based language teaching is
concerned with communicative and cognitive processes.

Example: a science class taught in the language the students need or want to learn, possibly with linguistic
adjustment to make the science more comprehensible.