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Understanding the Importance of Syllabus Design when Teaching Business English

Understanding the Importance of Syllabus Design when Teaching Business English | ITTT | TEFL Blog

Syllabus design is one of the most important parts of developing a business English course. In order to formulate a syllabus, a lot of factors have to be kept in mind. These include the purpose of the course, the language proficiency of the students, the field in which the students specialize, as well as the aims, goals and objectives that you intend to achieve by the end of the course. The syllabus design should represent a logical step by step process to take the students from their present level of proficiency to their desired level.

This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Hina I.

The Different Types of Syllabus Design

Your course syllabus could take various forms. It could be a ‘structural syllabus’ which is also known as a grammatical syllabus, a ‘functional syllabus’ which is based on the idea of making the students able to communicate their functions through the concerned language, a ‘learner led syllabus’ in which students have their own input in the design process, or a ‘situational syllabus’ which is based on the situational needs of the students. Furthermore, the syllabus can be categorized into the ‘student syllabus’ which is the part that the students will see, the ‘material syllabus’ which deals with the material required in different phases of the course, and the ‘organizational syllabus’, which deals with organization of various resources etc.

Also read: Guide to Writing Your First TEFL Syllabus

Focus on the Specific Needs of the Student Group

To ensure your design is suitable for the student group, first you require a detailed analysis to identify what the clients need out of the syllabus, followed by initial evaluations of the client’s language proficiency which will help a lot in formulating a suitable syllabus design. The main areas of need will be identified through a detailed discussion and then these main focus areas can be separated into various units or modules for the course. You should then be able to decide what kind of lessons, both in vocabulary as well as grammar, will suit the specific module so that after studying that material, the clients needs are met. The same material can be later translated into lesson plans, with detailed distribution of time corresponding to each activity.

Also read: 7 Great Resources for Teaching Business English

Don’t Forget to Include Testing and Evaluation

While dedicating the number of hours to each unit or module of the syllabus, it must be kept in mind that some time will have to be dedicated to an introductory portion as well as a well-organized testing mechanism. This will allow the teacher to measure the efficacy of the program and allow the students to monitor their progress. These tests could be ‘diagnostic tests’ (to assess the students’ knowledge and skills in specific areas before the course begins), ‘placement tests’ (enabling the teacher to group the students together by ability), ‘aptitude tests’ (to predict the students’ future progress), as well as ‘achievement tests’, ‘proficiency tests’ and ‘progress tests’, for evaluating progress throughout the course.

The final step in course design is the evaluation process which is very important as it helps to suggest improvements in the curriculum as well as teaching methodology for future courses. It also gives the students an opportunity to give their feedback on the course and evaluate its efficiency against the initially planned aims. Moreover, it also helps the teacher in giving useful information to the employer regarding the course and the students’ performances. These evaluations are usually carried out in two ways: Student evaluations regarding the usefulness of the course and teacher evaluations regarding the student's performance.

Also read: Evaluation and Testing of Students in the ESL Classroom

Are you ready to design your first TEFL course syllabus?

Syllabus design is the single most important aspect of a specialized course for teaching business English. Overall, teaching methodology, understanding of the user/client needs, choosing appropriate course material etc, all revolve around syllabus design. A good syllabus design is the key ingredient to achieving a successful conclusion to a business English course.

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