Did you know that a good language course must be based on a powerful syllabus?
by Louis Alexander
A syllabus is a list of items that are to be taught in a course, usually in some kind of ordered sequence. Syllabuses can be constructed from various points of view, so we can have a structural syllabus, which is grammar-based, a syllabus for vocabulary ('lexical syllabus'), a situational syllabus, based on presumed situations the learner is likely to encounter, and so on. Direct English uses three kinds of syllabus: 1) a communicative and structural syllabus in Books 1-3; 2) a grammatical syllabus in Books 4-6; 3) a text-based syllabus in Books 7 and 8. One generalization we can make is this: the more organized the syllabus, the sharper the focus for the learner.
The main communicative objective in Direct English, Books 4-6 is to train learners to manage interaction with other people, which, in the broadest sense, means exchanging non-contentious information and/or negotiating/arguing in a foreign language. The syllabus constructed to achieve this is structural, so the whole of essential English grammar is fully covered in Books 4-6. This gives learners a sound grasp of the structure of the English language and provides a solid, underlying basis for communication. The grammatical information is drawn from the 'English Grammar'. Here is a glimpse of the syllabus for the first nine lessons of Book 4 of Direct English:
1 Major grammar topic: Nouns & Adjectives
Lesson 1: Countable and uncountable nouns compared.
2 Major grammar topic: Articles and Quantity
Lesson 2: General statements with a/an and 'zero' and the 'plural' form of a/an.
3 Major grammar topic: Pronouns and Relatives
Lesson 3: Personal pronouns, subject and object; gender.
4 Major grammar topic: Adverbs and adverb clauses
Lesson 1: adverbs of manner; adverbs with two forms, but different meanings.
5 Major grammar topic: Prepositions and phrasal verbs
Lesson 2: words used as prepositions, adverbs or conjunctions.
6 Major grammar topic: Verbs and verb tenses
Lesson 3: Stative and dynamic verbs.
7 Major grammar topic: Modals and related verbs
Lesson 1: Two uses of modal verbs: literal meanings and degrees of certainty.
8 Major grammar topic: Direct and indirect speech
Lesson 2: Quotation marks and other punctuation marks.
9 Major grammar topic: The infinitive and the '-ing' form
Lesson 3: Forms of the infinitive; the bare infinitive and 'to'-infinitive.
This syllabus is cyclical, based on nine major recurring grammatical themes (numbered above) and repeating itself every nine lessons. Units 31-33 (nine lessons) cover and expand the themes again; Units 34-36 (nine lessons) cover and expand the themes again, bringing us to the end of Book 4. By the end of Book 6, the major grammatical themes have been covered and expanded nine times, so learners are equipped to cope with many kinds of interactive situations as the intermediate level based on a firm grasp of the underlying grammar.
© LG & DE Limited 2006
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