This paper explores the dynamics and dimensions of the perceivably feasible efforts aimed at remodeling the English Curriculum Design. The paper takes a significant thrust at outlining the thrusts aimed at renewing foreign language learning models while also taking into cognisance the elements of the language curriculum.
The proliferation of knowledge contributions around the bodies of knowledge which include education and language learning and acquisition necessitates that the current English curriculum designs be reviewed in the object of identifying areas that need modification or complete overhaul. This has to be done in the holistic efforts aimed at enhancing the language education designs in the direction of enhancing effectiveness and ensuring the fulfillment of learner’s needs and educators’ expectations.
Badger, R, et al. (2000) quote Rod Ellis who articulates that, “…the learning process is path of discovery which obtains spontaneously and routinely only if particular conditions have been met.” The foregoing can be aptly applied to the learning of the English language. The effective and successful delivery of knowledge in English language learning environs demands that particular conditions be established and fulfilled from all dimensions in ways of putting the teachers’ and learner’s needs and capabilities into perspective.
Curriculum development has to be perceived as an ongoing and recurring process executed to establish the needs of a particular set of learners. The process is conducted to accomplish the goals of meeting the determined needs and to form foundations for appropriate curriculum, course framework as well as knowledge impartation techniques. Campbell, C. (1990) adds, “By extension the development process focuses on the dynamics of material to be used in the entirety of the learning process while entailing an assessment of the language programme culminating from the arrayed processes”. At the same breadth, Abbott, G, (1978) concurs that practice of curriculum development must be reflective of the needs examination and ideologies on the English language on its own, its teaching and its learning and acquisition.
Gaps in current curriculum design
In the development of English language curriculum models, curriculum planners must take into cognisance various theories and conceptual frameworks pertaining to the art and science of language learning. Feasible English language learning designs can be crafted basing on classroom observations and experiences in the preparations and instruction delivery.
Previous studies conducted on the existing English curriculum designs have illuminated various areas that need further development. Swales (1990) has outlined points that require adequate attention in the processes English language learning curriculum design renewal. His researches pointed to the following areas as key points that need adequate attention by English language curriculum designers. Swales’ research indicates a yawning gap that exists in the classroom English language and language practice at work place. Swales particularly unearthed the disparities that exist between texts learners have to read as well as write in workplace and also English classroom environs.
The studies also point to the disparities between the classroom English practice and the English language expectations at work environments. The needs analysis in the studies conducted points to the various gaps that obtain in the process of knowledge impartation in the English language learning processes. Fanning, P. (1999) notes, “These among other findings indicate the elements that must be constituted in the efforts of renewing and remodeling the English curriculum design.” The salient objective will be to harmonise and marry classroom English learning and practical English language settings expectations in a manner to equip learners with requisite reading, speaking and writing skills that will match language practice environments outside the classroom.
The analysis component of curriculum design and more so, in curriculum renewal endeavors, is a critical and inalienable aspect in the entire process of assembling feasible and effective curriculum models. The cyclical curriculum development practice needs analysis unit is a sub-recurring procedure which runs before, during and after English language course delivery. The process entails the gathering of requisite data to be utilised in the determination of a cross-section of learner’s needs. This provides sound basis for the making of well-informed decisions on the aspects of objectives and matter of the English language syllabus.
Brown J. D. (1995) presents that some key elements in this process involve the following;
> The establishment of the profiles of the students to bring to light aspects like learners’ educational background, past familiarities with the English language, general attitudes towards the languages as well as other language needs.
; Establishment of the English language learners’ capabilities which may be communicative, practical competence, strategic aptitude and familiarity with formal English.
> Establishment of the specific language traits, abilities entailing language strategies, matter and the actual language practice experiences that the learners need for particular purposes.
> Detection of the break that exists in learners’ capabilities and the desired target learners’ aptitude levels.
By extension, the steps will include the recognition of perceived learners’ needs and the latent and unrecognised learners’ requirements.
One salient component of the curriculum development process is what has been termed ‘situation analyses’. This is yet another recurring process that must be conducted before, during and after English language course delivery. This component involves the gathering of information on the extensive precincts wherein instruction is given as a way of equipping the decision-making processes on objectives and content of the language learning design.
Steps involved in this component include the following:
> The determination of who the stakeholders are. This will lead to the recognition of the top administration, teachers, guardians, government. This step also entails the bringing of the stakeholders’ attitudes towards the English language into perspective.
; Assessment of the societal aspects associated with language education.
; Assessment of organisational factors perceived to enable or impede transformation and novelty in the curriculum development interfaces
; Assessment of educator factors such as language adeptness, knowledge delivery experience, traits and academic qualifications, attitudes as well as values on language education.
Aims and Goals
Curriculum designs are assembled with a set of objectives, goals and aims relating to what must be accomplished through the curriculum models. The goals relate to the overall and general purposes and targets of a curriculum. The objectives spelled out on the curriculum design pertain to the more explicit and particulate aims embodied by a pervading thrust entailed on the goals. Brown J. D. (1995) posits that, “The learning outcomes refer to the knowledge that learners will have acquired by end of the learning process. This must be based on the situation and needs assessment as well as ideologies on language education.” Along the same lines, it can be stated that in the English curriculum renewal goals and objectives declaratives must spell out lucidly the guidelines for educators, content writers and learners. The declaratives must also present a concept focus for the evaluation as well as instruction execution aspects. Curriculum renewal for the English language education must focus on the language, strategies, content and experiences learning categories.
Curriculum evaluation is a critical component in curriculum development procedures. The evaluation process can be normative or formative. This is aimed at establishing the ways in which the programme has effectively accomplished intended goals. The evaluation process will help establish if the programme has successfully enabled the fulfillment of learners’ needs versus educators’ capabilities and English language practice (especially teaching on the part of the educators) experiences.
The renewal of the English curriculum designs necessitates a paradigmatic shift on the aspect of participatory involvement of stakeholders in the crucial curriculum evaluation processes in order to determine the needs of learners and strive to address them feasibly. This implies the active involvement of language educators as well as administrators in the ongoing assessment of the effectiveness of the instruction delivery process.
This will empower educators to review and if need be, revises the instructional designs. Badger, R. (2002) adds, “In this process classes must be treated as pilot groupings since there are various means through which instructions and the entirety of instruction design can be enhanced towards the meeting of learner needs as well as target goals.” This is particularly true of the evaluation process, which fundamentally purports to empower stakeholders in the language learning system, especially the educators, to review the learning process. The outcomes of this step will lay a foundational premise and framework for curriculum development and transformation as well as renewal.
Educational systems are consistently under pressure to transform and keep pace with ever evolving needs of education stakeholders, especially the learners and the educators. The domain of English language curriculum design needs further research into unearthing existent areas demanding attention and transformation in the holistic thrusts aimed at enhancing the curriculum to ensure effectiveness and the meeting of set learning system goals. Further research focuses must entail the holistic curriculum development methods that must be particularly implemented in language education programmes.
Methods must not be bereft of the crucial and critical curriculum development components that enlist needs analysis, goals and objectives setting content designing, and educator development among other aspects. The methods must be further complimented by parallel and ongoing programme and language curriculum evaluation dimensions. Efforts in the aims of language education curriculum renewal must take significant thrusts at ensuring the active involvement of as many participants as possible especially from the language education systems stakeholders’ categories.
Campbell, C. (1990) quotes H. H. Stern, “The fundamental questions instructors face when they undertake to teach a language class are the basic “interrogatives”: what to teach, when to teach it, in what sequence, and how”. In response to foregoing nuances, it can be stated that researches must lead to the establishment of feasible and more effective means of approaching and handling education delivery programme matters. By extension, the focuses onto the development of English language curriculum designs for the future must support and coordinate syllabus designers and developers in their objectives of developing feasible and comprehensive curriculum for the English language education programmes.
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