Designing a syllabus is an essential part of teaching and the OPOSICIÓN A MAESTROS DE INGLÉS EN PRIMARIA requires it for two purposes.
Indeed, several topics deal with a variety of aspects pertaining to Syllabus design. Topic 21, specifically, covers the concepts of syllabus design, unit planning, sequencing and timing of objectives and contents and the methodology to use in learning and assessment activities. Even if the topics may only represent 30% of the total mark for the first part of the OPOSICIÓN (Competitive Exam), the candidates are required to hand in their own syllabus design for a specific year in Primary Education, be it for a mainstream school or for one of the so-called “bilingual” schools, where some kind of CLIL takes place. On top of that, the oral part of the exam involves giving the rationale behind that syllabus design together with the presentation of one of the units.
We assume you have read our GUIDELINES ON HOW TO WRITE GOOD ESSAYS IN ENGLISH, and particularly the section on “The Introduction”. If you haven’t, and wish to have access to it, you only need to register, send us an e-mail, and ask for the code to access it. Hopefully, the following introduction will help you both with the writing of the topic and as a way of checking whether you have included all the required elements in your syllabus design.
Syllabus design is a must in order to give our teaching practice coherence and a sense of direction. Essential as it is, planning the English syllabus for a year at Primary Education level is a complex process, which involves four main factors.
Firstly, the teacher needs to take into account both the Common European Framework of Reference and the legislation issued by the corresponding Education Authorities at central and local level. In this legislation, the authorities typically:
- Provide the rationale behind teaching English at Primary School level.
- Establish the principle of catering for diversity in order to provide quality and equity in education, i.e. quality education for all students.
- Set the key competences students must develop and the objectives to achieve at the different stages.
- State the contents to cover in order to achieve the objectives and develop the key competences.
- Define the Assessment criteria to follow by the teacher when assessing whether a specific student has developed the key competences and mastered the contents (or acquired the knowledge and skills required) so as to achieve the objectives set.
Secondly, the teacher must bear in mind the School Education Project, the School General Syllabus for the specific academic year and any other documents pertaining the running of the school and which relate to the curriculum, the students, facilities, means, etc. These documents provide an important insight into:
- The location of the school
- The type of students attending it
- The resources and facilities at the teachers’ disposal
- The general objectives set by the school itself for that specific year.
Thirdly, and after considering how a foreign language is acquired and learnt by children, the different approaches and techniques at their disposal, teachers have to decide on
- The techniques, approaches and resources they are going to use so as to better achieve the objectives set by the different authorities.
- The activities and tasks which best fit in with the approaches selected and which will best contribute to catering for the different abilities and needs those students have.
This will ensure that all the students:
- receive quality education
- develop the key competences which will enable them to progress successfully in their lifelong learning.
The teacher, thus, performs a variety of roles:
Finally, teachers need to decide on how they are going to distribute the time available to carry out the activities planned for the students to:
- cover the contents
- develop the key competences
- and achieve the goals established in the Official Curriculum and selected by the teacher.
To do so,
- the contents of the syllabus need to be broken into teachable units
- the units into lessons
- these lessons should contain the appropriate activities which, covering the contents, will enable the development of the key competences and lead to the achievement of the objectives.
Time must also be allocated to:
- assessing the level of development and achievement on the part of the students
- evaluating the teaching and learning process in order to address possible problems in the students’ mastery of the contents which may hinder the goals set.
The syllabus design thus presents an overall picture of the plan for the academic year and for a specific group of students, and serves the teacher as a benchmark against which to decide if something needs changing to successfully achieve the goals set with the means available.