A curriculum refers to the principles and the procedures for the planning, implementation,
evaluation and management of an educational program. Curriculum study embraces syllabus design (the selection and grading
of content) and methodology (the selection of learning tasks and activities).
² A curriculum is an educational program which states:
1. The educational purpose of the program (the ends)
2. The content, teaching procedures and learning experiences which will
be necessary to achieve this purpose (the means)
3. Some means for assessing whether or not the educational ends have
Curriculum design refers to the study and development of the goals, content, implementation, and evaluation of
an educational system. In language teaching, curriculum development (also called syllabus
a) The study of the purposes for which a
learner needs a language (Needs Analysis)
b) The setting of objectives, and the development of a syllabus, teaching methods, and materials.
c) The evaluation
of the effects of these procedures on the learner’s language ability.
On the whole, curriculum development refers to the range of planning and implementation processes involved in developing or
renewing a curriculum. The approach generally taken in curriculum development places teachers and language teaching professionals
at the center of the planning and decision-making process. The products of these decision-making processes include policy
documents, syllabi, tests, teaching materials, teaching programs, textbooks, and teaching and learning acts. The processes
that lead to these decision-making processes are difficult to identify and analyze because they often reflect the contributions
of a variety of people with different roles and goals. The different decision-making roles and products are represented in
the diagram below:
Table 1 Stages, decision-making roles and products in curriculum development.
What is a syllabus?
may consist of an independent publication – a book or booklet – if it is intended to cover all the courses in
a particular context regardless of the actual materials used: a country’s national syllabus for schools, for example,
or the syllabus of a group of language colleges.
syllabus is a description of the contents of a course of instruction and the order in which they are to be taught.
is a document which consists, essentially, of a list. This list specifies all the things that are to be taught in the course(s) for which the syllabus was designed
(a beginner’s course, for example, or a six-year secondary-school program): it is therefore comprehensive (wide-ranging, all-inclusive). The actual components of the list may be either content items (words, structures, topics), or process ones (tasks,
methods). The former is the more common. The items are ordered, usually having
components that are considered easier or more essential earlier, and more difficult and less important ones later. This ordering
may be fairly detailed and rigid, or general and flexible.
syllabus generally has explicit objectives, usually declared at the beginning
of the document, on the basis of which the components of the list are selected and ordered.
characteristic of the syllabus is that it is a public document. It is available
for examination and analysis not only by the teachers who are expected to implement it, but also by the consumers (the learners
or their parents or employers), by representatives of the relevant authorities (inspectors, school boards), by other interested
members of the public (researchers, teacher trainers or textbook writers).
are other, optional features, displayed by some syllabi and not others. A time schedule
is one: some syllabi delimit the time framework of their components, prescribing, for example, that these items should be
dealt with in the first month. A particular preferred approach or methodology to be used may also be defined. It may list recommended materials
– course books, visual materials or supplementary materials.
- It consists of a comprehensive list of content items (to explain words
[vocabulary], structures [grammar], topics [pollution, family, etc]) and process items (tasks and methods).
- It is order either from simple to complex or from more essential
to less essential.
- Explicit objectives.
- It is a public document.
- It may indicate a time schedule.
- Preferred methodology/approach.
- It may recommend materials (e.g. a tape).
Types of syllabi
- Grammatical: a list
of structures such as the present tense, comparison of adjectives, relative clauses. These are divided into sections graded
according to difficulty/importance.
- Lexical: list of
vocabulary items (words and their different associations + idioms).
very common. Both structures and vocabulary are listed (together or in separate lists).
- Situational: it teaches
the language needed for each situation; headings refer to situations or locations such as ‘at the restaurant’
‘at the shop’.
headings are topic-based, e.g. pollution, marriage, food.
- Notional: general
notions (number, time, place, colour) and specific notions (man, woman, afternoon à like voc. items).
- Functional- Notional:
giving orders, asking, requesting, giving directions, promising. Purely functional syllabi are not quite common, that’s
why the functions are combined with notions.
Mixed or multi-strand: modern
syllabi combine different aspects including specifications of topics, tasks, functions and notions along with structures and