Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Syllabus Categories

1. Which categories do all the syllabi mention (e.g. skills, vocabulary, grammar...)?

Most of these texts cover similar skills, vocabulary and grammar such as:

The Business appears most basic of the bunch with grammar, speaking and writing. Double dealing covers business vocabulary and language as broad topic areas. English 365 explores listening, grammar, pronunciation, speaking and reading as general topics consistently through each chapter. International Express includes language focus, skills focus and functions. Intelligent Business categorizes reading, language and vocabulary. But just as we see no absolute overlaps between student needs and ready made coursebook materials there are only broad overlaps in these various course-book "menus."

2. Are there any categories that only one of them mention? If so, what is the category? How useful a category is this do you think?

Double dealing’s "cross-cultural focus" is its unique identifier and this could be interesting in a very multicultural classroom however perhaps limiting in a mono-cultural group of learners as there can often be fairly similar viewpoints. The Business covers "case studies" on its own which is useful in engaging small groups of students and encouraging stimulating presentations based discussion groups. English 365 uniquely highlights "social phrases" and "communicating at work" as broad categories which would be useful for developing specific and narrow topics related to in office skills and functions practice. International Express describes vocabulary as “word power” and this reminds me of “Reader’s Digest” which if you are unfamiliar is a globally popular elementary level reading monthly magazine with short vocabulary sections so this text appears to appeal to reading and writing development. Intelligent Business is alone in its focus on "career skills "and "dilemma and decision topics” which could be interesting as morals and ethics of global business are quite under-developed even in straight business courses. These last two topics are areas I would love to develop with my students.

3. In total, do you think one of the course books has an ideal syllabus in terms of blending the various elements? Remember we are not analyzing the course books as such, but thinking about syllabus design in general.

The last one Intelligent Business appeals the most to me because it provides a little more material than I am used to seeing with lots of functional grammar skills sections. A few extra chapters appear in this text compared with the others with loads of extra focus materials. This book would provide me and my students with a few extra options for tailoring and or group-based choices for syllabus selections. The options to omit or skip less interesting or relevant chapter topics or whole sections appeals to me and my students would probably appreciate having more choices in terms of selecting syllabus focus areas. A little student-selection might go a long way in activating greater learner self-motivation.

I also realized giving the students Clive Miller's list to assist in evaluating their peers presentations would also be a teaching and learning moment.

I've never really consulted my students about new textbooks to tell you the truth. It might be again a case of avoiding possibly culturally constrained "teacher doesn't know what he's doing" moments. But I am realizing that different classes might prefer different chapters be included in work schema.

The textbook ordering process is convoluted enough I suppose with sometimes a week lag between beginning of term and arrival and I suppose I could also think of a thousand other reasons not to try this. Even getting Market Leader in is a special international order and I have to handle grumbles from my "fan club" over prices on occasion. The only free copies the publishing houses here try to foist on me are usually tripe IMHO.

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