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as one in which the contents are organized according to situations in which certain language is likely to be employed (Richards, et al, 1985:260; Ur, 2000:178; Schulz, 2005). That is, the fundamental principle for the organization of the contents is situation, instead of grammar items, although which will also appear in the syllabus (Kaur, 1990; Wilkins, 1976). Under this guideline, what the designer of a Situational Syllabus probably tries to do is to predict situations that the learners are likely to run into, such as “at the airport,” “at the doctor’s office,” and “in the classroom.” According to Wilkins, Situational Syllabus is the “only [syllabus] other [than Grammatical Syllabus]” used widely in teaching material development in his day (Wilkins, 1976:20). Although Situational Syllabus is now on the decline, it enjoys a century long history (Dubin and Olshtain, 1986:37), and used to thrive in the 1950s. As for the theoretical assumptions of the Situational Syllabus, Johnson attribute it to the theory of language developed by John Rupert Firth (Johnson, 2002: 179-180), which we thought is reasonable. Influenced by Saussure and Malinowski, Firth believes that language is not only an abstract system of structures, but also a “social process”; the meaning of language is determined by the context in which it occurs, and language has the capacity to get things done, thus human being need to learn language to live (Liu and Feng, 2002: 302). Naturally, this “context of situation” serves as the basis of Situational Syllabus: “Language, the reasoning goes, is best learned and remembered in when presented in contextual settings” (Johnson, 2002:179). Another theory underlying the Situational Syllabus is the problematic assumption that the learner can cope with all situations in the life by putting together the learning of language patterns appears in each single situations. Wilkins believes that this assumption on the learning process is a “behavioral” one in nature (Wilkins, 1976: 21), which we think is
. in the framework Wilkins circumscribes in the same book (Wilkins. that is the production of a language. Long and Crookes (1992) interpreted the notion “synthetic syllabus” as “…syllabus relies on learners' assumed ability to learn a language in parts (e. Components of situational syllabuses 1) Aims/Goal 2) Objectives 3) Non-language outcomes 4) Learning contents Knowledge: A list of the communication situations you want to be able to operate in. 1992:30) Thus. 2. the pieces when the time comes to use them for communicative purposes. Further. the knowledge of the language is synthesized by putting together what have been learned.appropriate. the assumption of learning could be termed as a synthetic one: at the final phase of learning.g.”(Long and Crookes. this assumption is fatal to the Situational Syllabus. As will be seen in this report. and also to integrate. structures and functions) which are independent of one another. . 1976:2). and order them from the following criteria: • • • • • Learner’s interests and Communicative needs The likelihood of the students will encounter them Language items involved (simplicity & learnability) Student’s language proficiency Cultural differences --Topics: A list of topics that the students are expected to be able to talk about. or synthesize.
Many collections of conversations and communication activities are organized in terms of situations. language associated with it. There are three types of situational syllabus differentiated by their informational content and linguistic content. 3. Limbo: Specific setting of the situation is of little or no importance. reading and writing 5) Implementation 6) Evaluation Many methods have used examples of the language being learned in situations and settings. Situational content has been used with audio-lingual( behaviourist ). cognitive and experimental( acquisition-based) instruction. usually at the beginning of a lesson and the topics. The most familiar way of presenting a situation is as a dialogue. Concrete: Situations are enacted to specific settings and the Mythical : Situations depend on a fictional cast of characters in a Sets of structures and vocabulary items are emphasized in situations. 2. 1. settings. speaking. Situations may be constructed to present various types of discourse or interactional phenomena. . Situational material in many forms may be used simply to provide comprehensible input to learners.--Language items: language items should be bear in mind when ordering the communicative situations --Skills: listening. Situations are used to presented new material providing examples and more focused exercises. participants in situations can vary infinitely. What is important is the particular language focus involved. fictional place. Students are expected to create or modify parts or all of it so form and meaning coincide.
Benefits of the situational syllabus Whether or not a syllabus is considered as feasible in the actual teaching or learning environment. (b) process. Thus. or the specific matter to be included. To begin with. situational syllabus attaches much importance to the context within which the theme and the linguistic topics are presented. on one hand. on the other hand.Well-prepared situations can show how native speakers act and what they talk about and are concerned about. 3. materials. or the manner in which language content is learned. as has been observed. there exists a correspondence between students’ personal experience and the materials. in accordance with our group’s discussion. Content As the content of a situational syllabus. Since our group have selected “situational syllabus” as the point of penetration. (c) product. and also of providing realistic. is organized in order of different authentic situations. teacher and learners are three fundamental components of a syllabus.1. in most cases. we would like to adopt this threedimensional criteria to evaluate this syllabus type by illustrating some of its merits and drawbacks. should be examined along three dimensions: (a) language content. more often than not there would be a list of useful situations which learners would encounter during the course. and hence motivating. . it can facilitate the process of grounding so-called indirect knowledge into schemata which is generally viewed as the ultimate phase of language learning. To put it more specifically. materials. it certainly has the potential advantage of tapping students’ knowledge of the world as an aid to learning. 3. or outcomes such as the language skills learners are expected to master.
like in China.2. and come up with a specific plan concerning how to teach students and what aspects of learning shall be given more priorities. 3. It is manageable to take situational syllabus as a pedestal. for instance.Moreover. the situation-based method of selecting and organizing materials may well serve the purpose of bridging cultural gap by various conversations and topics that are implied with typical social conventions and customs of the countries and people the learners are interested in. upon which we can incorporate many other syllabus types. teachers have a larger knowledge base than that of students’. Last but not least. Certainly. Granted. grammatical/structural. given specific situations in which they are often employed. In compliance with this dimension. students learn more rapidly about how to use different lexical items or linguistic structures. especially when it comes to ESL environment. But here we would like to emphasize the role that teachers often play under the guidance of situational syllabus. Unit 7 At Home Dialogues Passage: Ａ Childlike Father Words and Expressions Notes Exercises Supplementary Reading: The British Bobby . refers to the manner in which language is learned.1. Taking “Coursebook for PETS (Level 1)” for an example. functional/notional syllabi. etc. a few things have been covered in subsection 3. as mentioned above. so it is plausibly assumed that teachers are able to relate to the different situations listed in the syllabus. situational syllabus is flexible in nature. Process Process.
Product . the adaptability of the syllabus to social needs will. those teachers. the number of situation types is innumerable. language is a social semiotic system and a meaning potential which is composed of infinite words and structures. as time goes by. as far as our imagination goes. Anyhow. expectedly. In accordance with the functional viewpoint of the nature of language. Conversely. will go and glean as many similar materials as possible which fix their central themes on the given topic of the situation. the syllabus provides such contents beforehand. and therefore. Bearing this in mind. 3. if conscientious enough. As is known to all. Also. thus. teachers do not have to figure out by themselves how to make up some rigid and lifeless situations in which certain words or structures should be used. situational syllabus will definitely have a countless resource to utilize.Unit 8 Receiving Friends Dialogues Passage: My Friend Charlie Words and Expressions Notes Exercises Supplementary Reading: American Senior Citizens Under such circumstances. be greatly improved. society changes as well as the mode of people’s thinking and perceiving. situational syllabus makes the case in description more apt to happen. if we adopt a situation-oriented approach to design syllabus. so as to construct and design a variety of courses without worrying about repetition and boredom.3.
4. the communicative competence is given first priorities. It may be true that . Secondly. the situational syllabus is limited for students whose needs were not encompassed by the situations in the syllabus. It has been commonly acknowledged that under a situational syllabus. the situational syllabus may not include all the situations in real life.Product in syllabus design is mainly concerned with what students are expected to learn. By and large. the procedural knowledge could be activated in real life situations with no signs of transfer. the language will be more smoothly transformed into procedural knowledge that would be stored into the long. the objectives of the syllabus. consisting of an inventory of language situations and a description of the linguistic content of each of these situations. and to be exact. and according to the connectinalist view. There are different types of learners with various learning purposes and learning needs. the situational syllabus may not satisfy the learner’s needs. Although the exact contents of the situational syllabus are the result of a careful behavioral prediction. or in other words. including the general language learner. the course might not provide him with the means to handle significant language needs. the situational syllabus may not predict and include the language necessary to handle the language situation. As a result. For example. As claimed by Rabbini (2002). if a situational syllabus were to be used for any learner whose needs could not be identified in these situational terms.term memory. Of course. Drawbacks of the Situational Syllabus Despite the merits mentioned above. this has much to do with and shares a lot in common with functional syllabus. First of all. students’ communicative competence will be naturally enhanced. students’ communicative competence will be improved in terms of learning and understanding language more thoroughly and comprehensively by knowing language in use. we think the situational syllabus has the following four major drawbacks.
not to buy stamps. However. lexical and structural exercises based around the specific topic for that chapter.the situations in which the learner is likely to need the language may be predicted. Within each topic-based chapter we are led through a number of example conversations. in the situational syllabus cultural difference may be a factor influencing the learner.19). and the language necessary to perform linguistically in those situations are then taught. 'Buying a theatre ticket'. but to complain about the non-arrival of a parcel. to change some money or to ask a friend who works behind the counter to come to a football match. discussion points. Learners’ response to the same situations may be quite different due to their life experience. Wilkins (1976) argues that situational syllabus only includes language functions that occur in specific situations (p. Situational courses consist of learning units with labels like 'At the post office'. as well as their views of the world. Certain chapters are designed “so situation-specific that the content [has] relevance to only a limited number of students. intentions.83-84). Thirdly. But the learner may find in Britain a person may have gone into the post office. there are examples of both problems. a waiter or a telephone switchboard operator might be achieved adequately under the control situations. 'Asking the way' and so on. 2002). In all probability they are successful in what they set out to do. different things may be done in the same situations. (White 1988:63) Within the coursebook examined here. they would be unprepared for anything 'out of the ordinary' (Robbini. A problem with this situational / topic-based approach is that often categories are defined too narrowly or broadly. Cheng (2002) points out that due to the cultural differences.” (ibid: 63) . language used for the same situations may be unpredictable. Brumfit and Johnson (1979) also address the problems with the situational syllabus such as the limited horizons of language in specific situations and difficulty in defining what the situation is in the first place (p. The limited aims of a tourist.
probability. Moreover. It’s true that language is closely related to situations. the expression of agreement and disagreement can take place in almost any situation. the seeking of information. certain linguistic transactions regularly carried out. In my experience of using this coursebook a lack of interest in this investment chapter from students has been expressed because the chapter is both too narrow. 5. If a number of students find significant chunks of a coursebook uninteresting it could be a major demotivating factor and possibly points to a syllabus that is not suitable for a school such as this with such a wide range of students. but this does not mean that they are typical of our language use. The members of this group share the consensus that it might be more insightful to combine Situational Syllabus with other syllabus design approaches in the design of a single syllabus. In the case of a number of students studying English as a hobby and for general self-improvement. the chapter was too narrow and of little interest. the making of complaints and requests. Situational Syllabus is to be remembered both for its pros and cons. In some situations certain intentions are regularly expressed. Summary As discussed above. There are probably no situations where we typically express possibility. certainty. . A student who worked in the investment industry found the same chapter too broad and lacking in relevant vocabulary and experiences to be of any practical use. which focuses on investments. The situational syllabus seems to only provide with examples of general language use in specific situations. doubt or conviction.An example of which is one chapter. and too broad.
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