Syllabus Design: Providing for Effective Teaching

Effective Teaching

Effective Teaching is achieved not only as a consequence of how well teachers teach but through creating contexts and good environments that can facilitate good teaching.

Some of the factors that syllabus designers have to think about are:

  1. The Institution
  2. Teachers
  3. Type of Learners
  4. Teaching Process

4 Factors to Consider to Provide for Effective Teaching

These are the factor that you should take into account when designing your syllabus

#1 The Institution

A school’s organizational culture is revealed in the way the following questions are answered:

  1. What are the school’s goals and mission?
  2. What is the school’s management style?
  3. What shared values do staff have?
  4. What are the decision-making characteristics of the school?
  5. What roles do teachers perform?
  6. How are teaching and other work planned and monitored?
  7. What provision is made for staff development?
  8. How are courses and curriculum planned?
  9. How receptive is the school to change and innovation?
  10. How open are communication channels?

Quality indicators in an institution Language teaching institutions vary greatly in terms of how they view their educational mission. Some schools hopefully the majority are committed to providing quality educational services. They have a clearly articulated mission. They take seriously the development of a sound curriculum and set of programs, hire the best available teachers, and provide quality instruction and the kinds of support teachers need to achieve their best.

The following characteristics are indicators of the quality of a school or educational institution.

  1. There are clearly stated educational goals.
  2. There is a well-planned, balanced, and organized program that meets the needs of its students.
  3. Systematic and identifiable processes exist for determining educational needs in the school and placing them in order of priority.
  4. There is a commitment to learning, and an expectation that students will do well.
  5. There is a high degree of staff involvement in developing goals and making decisions.
  6. There is a motivated and cohesive teaching force with good team spirit.
  7. Administrators are concerned with the teachers’ professional development and are able to make the best use of their skills and experience.
  8. The school’s programs are regularly reviewed and progress toward their goals  is evaluated.

Other aspects to consider are the following:

  1. A sound curriculum: Well developed courses and teaching materials and test of high quality.
  2. Flexible organization framework: There is an atmosphere of trust and support  with reasonable teaching loads.
  3. Good Internal Communications: Sytems that facilitate the communication among teachers.
  4.  Professional Treatment of teachers:  Teachers don’t work under poor employment conditions
  5. Teacher Development: Teachers develop long-term career goals.
  6. Equipment: An institution that provides and invest in technology.
  7. Class Size: Language classes should not exceed fifteen students.

#2 Teachers

Many things can be done to create a context for good teaching, but it is teachers themselves who ultimately determine the success of a program.

Good teachers can often compensate for deficiencies in the curriculum, the materials, or the resources they make use of in their teaching.

Language teaching institutions vary greatly in the type of teachers they employ. In some situations, there may be a choice between native speakers of English and nonnative speakers of English with varying levels of English-language proficiency. Within both groups there may be further choices possible based on teaching experience and professional qualifications.

Views concerning the appropriate qualifications of language teachers have changed in recent years as the field of TESOL has become more professionally demanding of itself and has sought to develop standards for language teachers (Leung and Teasdale 1998; TESOL 1986b). There is a much greater awareness today that an expert language teacher is a highly skilled professional.

Core components of teaching knowledge include the followiing:

  1. Practical Knowledge: The teacher’s repertoire of  classroom techniques and strategies.
  2. Content Knowledge:pedagogical grammar, phonology, teaching theories, second language acquisition, as well as the specialized discourse and terminology of language teaching
  3. Contextual Knowledge: Familiarity with the school or institutional context, knowledge of the learners, including cultural and other relevant information
  4. pedagogical knowledge: ability to restructure content knowledge for teaching purposes, and to plan, adapt, and improvise
  5. Personal knowledge: the teacher’s personal beliefs and principles and his or personal approach to teaching
  6. Reflective knowledge: the teacher’s capacity to reflect on and assess his or her own practice

Support for teachers include:

  1. Orientation: New teachers need a careful orientation
  2. Adequate Materials: Nothing is more demotivating than using materials that no one likes
  3. Teaching Release: Teachers need time to develop materials, prepare test and plan lessons.
  4. Feedback: Teacher need to be told what they are doing well and what they need to do in the performance

#3 The Teaching Process

Teaching models are usually based on particular methods or approaches

  • The communicative approach: The focus of teaching is authentic communication; extensive use is made of pair and group activities that involve negotiation of meaning and information sharing. Fluency is a priority.
  •  The cooperative learning model: Students work in cooperative learning situations and are encouraged to work together on common tasks and to coordinate their efforts to complete tasks. Rewards systems are group-oriented rather than individually oriented.
  • The process approach: In writing classes, students take part in activities that develop their understanding of writing as a process.
  • The whole-language approach: Language is taught as a whole and not through its separate components. Students are taught to read and write naturally, with a focus on real communication, authentic texts, and read-ing and writing for pleasure.

If you want to maintain a good language program you need to consider the following  strategies to address issues:

  • Monitoring: Information needs to be collected regularly on all aspects of the program to find out how teachers are teaching the course, what is working well or proving difficult, and what issues teachers need to resolve. Monitoring can take place through formal and informal mechanisms such as group meetings, written reports, classroom visits, and student evaluations.
  • Observations: Regular observation of teachers by other teachers or supervisors can provide positive feedback on teaching as well as help identify areas that might need attention.
  • Shared Planning: Teachers often work in isolation and do not always have the opportunities to benefit from the collective expertise of their colleagues. One way to avoid this is to build in opportunities for collaborative planning, as when teachers work together in pairs or groups on course planning, materials development, and lesson planning. During the process of planning, potential problems can often be identified and resolved.

#4 The Learning Process: Four Different Types of Learners

Learners’ learning styles may be an important factor in the success of teaching and may not necessarily reflect those that teachers recommend. In a study of the learning style of adult ESL students, Willing (1985, cited in Nunan 1988, 93) found four different learner types in the population he studied:

  • Concrete learners: These learners preferred learning by games, pictures,
  • films and video, talking in pairs  and  going on excursions.
  • Analytical learners: These learners liked studying grammar, studying English books, studying alone, finding their own mistakes, having problems to work on, learning through reading newspapers.
  • Communicative learners: This group liked to learn by observing and listening to native speakers, talking to friends in English, watching TV in English, using English in shops, and so on, learning English words by hearing them and learning by conversations.
  • Authority-oriented learners: These students liked the teacher to explain everything, writing everything in a notebook, having their own textbook, learning to read, studying grammar, and learning English words by seeing them.