I’ve been doing some research on course design and will be summarising some of the key principles here from the literature. Our centre library is not as up-to-date as it could be but this is not really much of a disadvantage as it pays to look back at older material. Indeed, I have only just discovered the amazing work of Wilga Rivers, who is a real inspiration and I hope to make further similar valuable discoveries.

Janice Yalden gives a template for designing situation-based language courses. Her approach is very useful in that she deliberately keeps the outlines as universal as possible so they may be applied to any language.

The steps can be summarised as follows:

  1. Decide on the situation.
  2. List communicative goals: those things a person would typically need to be able to do in this situation in the target culture.
  3. List the types of transaction that would be needed to fulfil the communicative goals.
  4. List the language content: those words and expressions needed for each transaction.
  5. List the language objectives: e.g. specific grammar, lexis and phonological features.
  6. Prepare suitable teaching materials to meet the language objectives. Locate realia, pictures and objects relating to the situation.
  7. Find/create listening activities, dialogues and video extracts. Script and record if necessary.
  8. Find or create further activities to reinforce content: reading, writing, tasks, games etc.
  9. Devise summative tests and evaluative component.
  10. Review and revise material.

Based on Yalden (1987) P.148f.