Guiding Principles for Course Design
All teachers have ideas about how a course programme should be put together - or at least, they know what they have available. I have labelled these ideas 'design principles'.
All Language B programmes have an irreducible minimum, dictated by the Subject Guide - the 'IB Core' :-
(Click on each to reach the relevant section of the site.)
Outside this very small core, teachers can teach whatever they like, in whatever way they like. However, discussions in dozens of workshops, with hundreds of teachers, have convinced me that the range of possibilities is not infinite, and that actual practice involves a blend of a limited number of design principles.
... get an appropriate text book, and work through it
'Realia' + availability of materials
... build course around real texts, culled from real life - influenced, of course, by what you can find, but the internet has made life much easier in that respect ...
... you select stimulus texts and subject matter according to what you think will interest your students
Student chosen & provided
... the students agree what they want to study, then divide the topics between them and (in pairs or small groups) find materials, present them, and run the classes
... you devise a plan of selected, necessary grammar points, then select materials & activities intended to teach and practise each grammar point in turn
[see Key Language Issues ...
... you select significant skills (e.g. thinking skills, writing skills) and then devise activities to practise these
[see Approaches... ...
... Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening - good practice is that there should be a balanced blend of these at all points in the teaching programme. A new factor here is 'Internet skills' - the way that accessing and exploiting Internet sources can be combined with the more traditional skills.
[ see Core internet procedures ...
... teaching English as the language of instruction: course elements are devised to support the use of English in other subjects
[see Language of Instruction ...
... learning and practising exam technique
... texts and activities selected to explore a broad subject area in some depth
... emphasis placed on developing a grasp of careful analysis, lucid argument, informed judgement ...
... the work of the class, usually over long periods, is centred on the careful, detailed study of literary works
[see Literature ...
Multi-lingual experience & the L1
... in contrast to the orthodox view of only using the target language in class, teaching should acknowledge that the target language is embedded in, and interacts with, the student's first language
Computer based & enabled
... information technology, particularly word-processing and the internet, are used as the fundamental means for finding source material and for deciding tasks and activities
** Have a look at the document Design Principles which summarises these ideas in graphic form.
Design Principles : self-assessment
You will probably recognise many of these principles, in your own or in other people's teaching style. As I have suggested, nobody's teaching is defined exclusively by just one of these design principles - we all employ a blend of several principles. But what blend, exactly? And is that blend the best of all possible blends?
You might like to try this sequence of thought experiments :-
? Which of these design principles inform your own teaching, in rough percentage terms?
? How happy are you with that blend of percentages?
? How might you change and/or add to your present blend of design principles - considering the range of options given above?