Curriculum has been defined differently by various educationists and curriculum specialists. Some of these definitions are given below: 1)Curriculum is the means by which pupils’ behavior is changed. 2)Curriculum is a means of preparing individuals to become productive citizens and useful members of the society.
3)Curriculum is defined as the total effort of the school to bring about the desired outcomes in the school and out-of the school situations. 4)Curriculum is an organized plan of course- outlines alongwith the objectives and learning experiences to be used for the achievement of desired goals. 5)Curriculum is the sumtotal of all the learning activities which may take place inside the school or outside the school to bring about the desired changes in learners.
The first two definitions are too vague and broad and appear to be non-functional. However, the third, fourth and fifth definitions look relevant and feasible. Out of these three, the fifth one is the most important for the reason that it stresses the role of home, mosque, community and society in the upbringing of the child and does not throw the entire responsibility on the school alone. According to this definition learning activities taking place both inside and outside the school will form part of the curriculum.
Any teaching curriculum is designed in answer to three interrelated questions: What is to be learned? How is the learning to be undertaken and achieved? To what extent is the former appropriate and the latter effective? A communicative Curriculum will place language teaching within the framework of this relationship between some specified purposes, the methodology which will be
the means towards the achievement of those purposes, and the evaluation procedures which will assess the appropriateness of the initial purposes and the effectiveness of the methodology. Curriculum is defined broadly to include four basic components: 1)Goals: The benchmarks or expectations for teaching and learning, often made explicit in the form of a scope and sequence of skills to be addressed;
2)Methods: The specific instructional methods for the teacher, often described in a teacher’s edition; 3)Materials: The media and tools that are used for teaching and learning; 4)Assessment: The reasons for and methods of measuring student progress. The school curriculum comprises all learning and other experiences that each school plans for its pupils.
Inside the school Classroom is the main learning spot. Learners spend most of their time in the classroom and it is here that the formal learning and teaching activities take place. Classrooms are generally equipped with all the facilities necessary for effective learning. But there are many other areas in schools which provide wonderful facilities for learning e.g. the laboratories particularly the language and computer laboratories for learning a foreign language,
the library for extra reading and research, activity centers, and the language club. Besides these, the mosque, playground, cafeteria also provide reasonable facilities for the students to learn lots of new words and structures. Outside the school Home provides the richest potential for learning. Here students can do their homework and self-study.
In many homes students have access to computer, television, videos and mass media facilities which provide excellent opportunities for learning a foreign language. Besides home, children can learn at the Mosque schools and Friday sermons, and can visit the public libraries available nearby. Moreover, the schools, as well as parents, can arrange field trips for their children to provide them with such experiences that possibly cannot be had in homes or schools.
Syllabus as Compared with Curriculum Syllabus has been defined as course-outline determined for a particular subject and for a specific level. It mainly includes the textbooks comprising contents of study. It may also include the supplementary reading material and relevant audio-visual aids. A syllabus generally provides a list of contents to be learned by students but does not suggest methods, activities and measures for evaluation.
Curriculum on the other hand specifies the knowledge, skills, experiences and insights the students tasks are expected to acquire through a series of in-class or out-of school tasks and strategies designed to foster learning. Curriculum as a Package Deal Curriculum is comprehensive and vast in the sense that it has at least four components as given below:-
1-Why : Objectives of teaching a particular subject. 2-What : Contents, skills, topics, themes. 3-Whom : the learner, his needs and psychology. 4-How : Strategies, methods and techniques of teaching the contents. Learning activities, audio-visual aids etc.
Curriculum doesn’t concentrate on just knowledge, facts, information and skills as the syllabus does, but also lays emphasis on the learner who is considered more important than knowledge. The needs of learners and those of the society are given due weightage and priority over the subject matter.
Models of Curriculum In the early history of curriculum development the curriculum designers generally used a 3-step model for developing any curriculum. Objectives, contents and strategies were the components of this model.
Illustration of Model No. 1 It can be illustrated in the form of a triangle. objectives 1 contents 2 strategies 3
Ralph Tyler (1949), however, developed a new rational for development of curriculum. He stressed the identification of four fundamental questions which, he developing any curriculum. This is known as a 4-step curriculum model and is given below:- 1.What educational purposes should the school seek to attain? 2.What educational experiences can be provided that are likely to attain these purposes? (Selecting experiences)
3.How can these educational experiences be effectively organized? (Organizing the experiences) 4.How can we determine whether these purposes are being attained? (Evaluating the program)
Illustration of Model No. II (Rectangular) It can be illustrated as a rectangle which is as follows:- Stating Objectives 1 Selecting 2 Experiences 3 Organizing Experiences 4 Evaluating Objectives
This model lays emphasis on not only having objectives but also stating them properly and preferably in behavioral terms. Instead of having contents prepared by the subject- teachers, it is preferred that the teachers should select useful experiences to be given to the learners and those experiences should then be organized in proper order of gradation. The fourth and the last step deal with the evaluation process to find out if the avowed curricular objectives have been
achieved and the learners have learnt which they were supposed to learn. In English language curriculum, the objectives will of course include the four skills. The experiences will consist of language functions, situations, grammatical patterns and vocabulary. Organization will be made on the basis of principles of gradation. Evaluation will comprise various techniques of testing and measurement involving both oral and written language tests having objectives and subjective items.
Hilda Taba (1962), a famous curriculum specialist, went a step further and proposed the following seven-step model for developing curriculum : 1.Diagnosis of learners’ needs. 2.Formulation of Objectives. 3.Selection of Contents. 4.Organization of Contents. 5.Selection of Learning Experiences. 6.Organization of Learning Experiences. 7.Determination of what to evaluate and of the ways and means of doing it.
5 Selection of learning Experiences 6 Organization of learning experiences 7 Evaluation program 1 Diagnosis of learners needs 4 Organization of contents 3 Selection of contents 2 Formulation of objectives Illustration of Model No. 3 heptagonal
The above models have raised the following four questions: 1.What type of program are we concerned with? Is it intensive for a short period or regular for long period. How old are the students and what is their language level? 2.Will the students need language for immediate use in the school and or out- school?
3.Are there enough resources in the school and the community to help the implementation of the curriculum? 4.How much training and experience do the teachers have? Based on these questions they have proposed that a good EFL curriculum should provide the following six components: 1. An analysis of the general aims of the program i.e. the objectives or the terminal behavior to be achieved by the students at the end of the course.(Objectives)
2.A progression of units indicating what aspects of the language are to be concentrated on at a given stage. (Contents) 3.A list of functional, notional, or grammatical items as well as points of pronunciation. 4.A description of the situations, tasks and activities through which language items and skills be introduced and practised.
5.Suggestions for evaluation of pupils’ growth. 6.Sources for teachers’ references and pupils’ textbooks. This EFL model can be illustrated in the form of an octagon as given below: Illustration of Model 4 Octagonal
1 objectives 2 contents 3 Language Functions 4 Language situations 5 Grammatical Items 6 Language Topics 7 Writing curriculum 8 Evaluation
As it is evident from the above illustration, the first component is about the objectives which is common in all the models. The second deals with content. The third and fourth components consist of language functions and language situations respectively. The fifth and sixth points deal with grammatical items and language topics. The seventh and eighth steps highlight the need for writing the curriculum and then evaluating it.
The proposed EFL model having eight components appears to be most appropriate and useful for developing the EFL curriculum and will therefore discussed in detail in the next chapters.
Best of luck Dr. Nissrein Abdel Bassett El-Enany