This is how our TEFL graduates feel they have gained from their course, and how they plan to put into action what they learned:
I know there is plenty of material out there to teach english as a Second Language, so why should I be interested in syllabus design instead of getting on with the job of teaching and using the materials at hand?
Honestly, the reason is quite practical and simple. I have first of all have never had a syllabus to teach from. This has been frustrating and time consuming coming up with material on the spot week after week. Also, I have looked at some of the material out there both online and in course books, including books like Interchange, and while I feel many have very helpful suggestions most books just don't begin to fit my particular situation and need.
I am sure this has as much to do with my personal teaching style as it has to do with my specific situation. But honestly I have not found anything so far that would be very helpful for the students I have been asked to teach presently. They are first of all on two different levels, both beginners and intermediate to advanced intermediates and have language issues specific to their particular culture and background. While one set are Indians, the others are from the Middle East with Arabic as their mother tongue. There are grammar and pronunciation issues and of course fluency ones as well.
Thus designing a syllabus meeting their needs is my next major project. I know it might be difficult and sometimes almost frustrating and definitely time consuming due to my very limited experience in this field, but I am eager to research and study and rise to the challenge as I feel it will have long term benefits, not just for me as a teacher, but for my students as well.
A working syllabus would give me the structure I currently lack and find very frustrating. To me it would work kind of like a skeleton giving an outline of material and topics to be covered in an education or training course. Making detailed lessons plans and worksheets and planning activities would put flesh on it.
I do believe that designing a syllabus for a particular class would be of great benefit to both a teacher and students. “Students benefit from a syllabus that lays out clear goals and expectations and other information that helps them succeed in the course and capture the overall view of the course from the beginning.”
For the teacher it helps in lesson preparation and planning and cuts down on wasting time wondering, 'now what do I do next.' It also helps for one to have the whole scheme or teaching programme in front of one so one knows what will be covered when. Therefore when we come across language issues in class we can choose to pull out that module and teach it or let our student/students know it will be covered in a subsequent lesson or even another term.
It helps students know what will be covered and when and also what is expected of them and when. This is important for students who find it difficult to see much progress at first. It can be a concrete source of encouragement to a student to show them where they have come from and where they are headed. It gives a sense of focus and plan and purpose.
Thus I think syllabus design and development while challenging, is key to effective teaching.