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English The Most Important Second Language

2713 words - 11 pages

1. English - the most important second language
Over 700 million people in the world speak English and it is the international language of diplomacy, business, science, technology, banking, computing, medicine, engineering, tourism, and Hollywood films. Furthermore two-thirds of German companies anticipate that applicants have thorough knowledge of English. Therefore teachers have to advance students' foreign language competences as early as possible to prepare them for the globalised world outside the classroom. This is a challenging mission and a lot of teachers fail to provide their students with enough language input so that students feel unsure if they are able to fulfil the companies' expectations after graduating school. So teachers have to find a way to teach the five language skills that are, writing, listening, reading, speaking, and mediating, in a meaningful way by involving students in interacting in the target language while their attention is mainly focused on meaning and negligibly on form.
2. Different approaches to syllabus design
General Information
The main problem for a foreign language teacher is how to present the elements of the target language like structures, words and notions, to their students. To help the teachers with their demanding task, different syllabi have been designed. Widdowson points out that a syllabus is "the specification of a teaching program or pedagogic agenda which defines a particular subject for a particular group of learners ... a syllabus specification, then, is concerned with both the selection and the ordering of what is to be taught"(1990,p.127).
The traditional and the holistic syllabus are the mostly used syllabi in the foreign language classroom and it is crucial to consider which one is more suitable to teach students in a meaningful way.
Traditional Syllabus
In traditional approaches to syllabus design, the teacher, as the authority person, introduces new linguistic items which the students should use in communicative situations later on.
According to Cameron the notion of traditional syllabi is "that the most important part of the language is its grammar, and that language learning is the accumulation of mastered rules of the grammar" (2003, p. 105) As a result students are not actively involved in the learning process because the teacher decides what is done in class. Due to the fact that first a certain point of grammar or pronunciation is taught in its different forms together with some new vocabulary, this syllabus is a structure-oriented one. Once the students are familiar with the introduced form, the teacher moves to a more difficult and complex piece of grammar or pronunciation. This is a traditional and often used way to introduce language, simplifying the learning challenge for students by introducing different linguistic items separately. The focus of this syllabus is mainly on the question what is taught in class.
Holistic Syllabus

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