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К содержанию номера журнала: Вестник КАСУ №2 - 2010

Автор: Бухрякова М.В.

For the late years, in the world's educational process new tendencies which indicate its development in the movement of general and pedagogical culture have been outlined. New value system and educational purposes have appeared and have been being discussed; the personality concept based on the ideas of the nature conformity, culture conformity, and individual-personality development has been revived. New educational paradigms have appeared, pedagogical activity is reflected in them through the new scientific language. These tendencies denote that the cultural approach is the basic approach of educational planning and development. This approach orients educational system to the intercommunication with the personal culture as its creator with the subject capable of cultural self-development. Such educational structure provides personality-sense development of a student, supports individuality, uniqueness and originality of every person, his ability to self-changing and to cultural self-development.

Relevance of the Learner-Oriented approach in education is significant for the modern society and it is provided with empirical and theoretical premises. The former is the experience gained by the pioneering activity directed to the designing of alternative educational systems. The latter is the basic research of personality function in society and of his vital activity in a social stratum.

Learner-oriented education reflects essential features of educational system: its purpose, the content of the experience passed on, techniques. The purpose of it is to create favorable conditions for formation of abilities and capacities of an individual. The content of the learner-oriented education is provided by the synthesis of two types of experience, they are: object and personal. The technology of the learner-oriented is the technology of supportive pedagogy which purpose is focusing on the personality. The development of the learner-oriented education causes the set of methodological, psychological and pedagogical problems. A number of scientists and teachers-practitioners create their works in order to solve these problems, to help teachers in planning and making a learner-oriented curricula and syllabi, they are for example D. Nunan, R. White, J. Munby, J. Richards in the English-speaking countries, G. Rogova, I. Yakimanskaya, I. Zimnyaya in Russia, O. Uruntaeva, A. Krasnoperov, etc. in Kazakhstan.

As the interest in the Learner-Oriented Approach and its importance in making a curriculum are growing, there are a number of discussions between methodologists on the question what should be included in the curriculum.

As the teachers of the English language we should know what "curriculum" means. But opinions differ and methodologists can not work out a common notion of this term. Let us see some variants.

According to Rogova [7, p. 96], "curriculum" is the document which states the subjects to be studied, the number of hours (periods) allotted to the study of each subject, the sequence in which the subjects are introduced.

For Stenhouse [6, p. 245] a curriculum should consist of three major parts relating to planning, empirical study and justification.

Nunan [3, p. 131] suggests that the term "curriculum" incorporates initial planning including needs analysis, grouping learners, goal and objective setting, selection and grading of content, methodology (which includes materials and learning activities), learning arrangements (incorporating learning models and environments), and finally assessment and evaluation.

We can not say that one of these definitions is correct and others are incorrect. All of them are not unreasonable. And I offer you to consider the different opinions about what the components of a curriculum for the English language learning are.

So, what are the components of the learner-oriented curriculum according to Jack C. Richards [4, p. 51]?

One of the basic assumptions of curriculum development is that a sound educational program should be based on an analysis of learners' needs.

The term needs is not as straightforward as it might appear, and hence the term is sometimes used to refer to wants, desires, demands, expectation, motivations, lacks, constraints, and requirements. Needs are often described in terms of a linguistic deficiency, that is, as describing the difference between what a learner can presently do in a language and what he or she should be able to do.

How can the curriculum give learners the linguistic and other resources they need to understand and access resources they have the right to make use of in the community and to articulate and defend their own rights and interests? Planning an ESL curriculum in this case not only involves identifying students' language needs, but seeks "to enable them to critically examine [the existing order] and become active in shaping their own roles in it" [1, p. 36].

A variety of procedures can be used in conducting needs analysis and the kind of information obtained is often dependent on the type of procedure selected. Since any one source of information is likely to be incomplete or partial, a triangular approach (i.e., collecting information from two or more sources) is advisable. Many different sources of information should be sought. For example:

- samples of student writing;

- test data on student performance;

- reports by teachers on typical problems students face;

- opinions of experts;

- information from students via interviews and questionnaires;

- analysis of textbooks teaching academic writing;

- survey or related literature;

- examples of writing programs from other institutions;

- examples of writing assignments given to first-year university students

Procedures for collecting information during a needs analysis can be selected from among the following:

Questionnaires

Questionnaires are one of the most common instruments used. They are relatively easy to prepare, they can be used with large numbers of subjects, and they obtain information that is relatively easy to tabulate and analyze. They can also be used to elicit information about many different kinds of issues such as language use, communication difficulties, preferred learning styles preferred classroom activities, and attitudes and beliefs.

A disadvantage of questionnaires, however, is that the information obtained may be fairly superficial or imprecise and will often need follow-up to gain a fuller understanding of what respondents intend.

Self-ratings

These consist of scales that students or others use to rate their knowledge or abilities. (Self-ratings might also be included as part of a questionnaire).

Interviews

Interviews allow for a more in-depth exploration of issues than is possible with a questionnaire, though they take longer to administer and are only feasible for smaller groups.

Meetings

A meeting allows a large amount of information to be collected in a fairly short time. However, information obtained in this way may be impressionistic and subjective and reflect the ideas of more outspoken members of a group.

Observation

Observations of learners’ behavior in a target situation are another way of assessing their needs. However, people often do not perform well when they are being observed, so this has to be taken into account. In addition, observation is a specialized skill. Knowing how to observe, what to look for, and how to make use of the information obtained generally requires specialized training.

Collecting learner language samples

Collecting data on how well learners perform on different language tasks (e.g. business letters, interviews, telephone calls) and documenting the typical problems they have is a useful and direct source of information about learners' language needs.

After all the required information is obtained, the essential is to make use of it and to make the curriculum considering the learners' needs:

- situations in which English is frequently used;

- situations in which difficulties are encountered;

- comments most often made by people on learners' performance;

- frequencies with which different transactions are carried out;

- perceived difficulties with different aspects of language use;

- preferences for different kinds of activities in teaching;

- frequencies of errors made in different types of situations or activities;

- common communication problems in different situations;

- suggestions and opinions about different aspects of learners' problems;

- frequencies of linguistic items or units in different texts or situations.

Jo McDonough and Christopher Shaw [2, p. 89] consider that any curriculum consists of a number of syllabuses that should obligatory be included in the curriculum.

However, for David Nunan [3, p. 146], the basis for making curriculum is materials. He claims that at the classroom level, materials often seem more prominent than any other element in the curriculum. This no doubt is largely due to the fact that materials are the tangible manifestation of the curriculum in action. They are, in fact, omnipresent in the language classroom and it is difficult to imagine a class without books, pictures, filmstrips, realia, games and so on. Even the most austere classroom will have some sort of materials. Inexperienced teachers very often look to materials first for assistance in planning their courses and also for teaching ideas. There is evidence that experienced teachers also look to materials when confronted with an unfamiliar class or learner type.

Materials are, in fact, an essential element within the curriculum, and do more than simply lubricate the wheels of learning. At their best, they provide concrete models of desirable classroom practice, they act as curriculum models, and at their very best they fulfill a teacher development role. Good materials also provide models for teachers to follow in developing their own materials.

Materials come in many shapes and formats. The most obvious distinction is between local materials produced by a teacher for her or his class, and those which are commercially produced.

One of the problems with comprehensive, structured course materials, particularly those with a strong methodological bias, is that they can sometimes dictate what goes on in the classroom, leaving teachers with little opportunity to exercise their own creativity (although there is evidence that many teachers have an independent streak, and tend to modify materials to suit themselves).

As the focus will be on assisting learners to do in class what they will need to be able to do outside, the materials should reflect the outside world. In other words, they should have a degree of authenticity. This authenticity should relate to the text sources as well as to student activities and tasks. The materials should also foster independent learning by raising the consciousness of the learners and making them more aware of the learning process.

All in all, whatever component might be included in the curriculum (be it needs analysis, syllabuses or materials) it is made with orientation on the learners, their needs and interests. Any teacher should take into consideration all these components as they are of great importance for making a learner-oriented curriculum of the English language.

REFERENCES

1. Auerbach A. Making Meaning, Making Change: Participatory Curriculum Development. McHenry, IL: Center for Applied Linguistics, 1995.

2. McDonough, J., Shaw, C. Materials & Methods in ELT Blackwell Publishing, 2003.

3. Nunan, D. The Learner-Centred Curriculum. - Cambridge University Press, 2001.

4. Richards, J and Rodgers, T. Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching. - Cambridge University Press, 1986.

5. Rowntree, D. Developing Courses for Students. - London: McGraw Hill (UK), 1981.

6. Stenhouse L. An Introduction to Curriculum Research and Development. - London: Heinemann, 1975.

7. Rogova G.V. Methods of Teaching English. – М.: "Просвещение", 1983.

8. White R. The ELT Curriculum. - Oxford: «Blackwell», 1989.



К содержанию номера журнала: Вестник КАСУ №2 - 2010


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