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Fraida Dubin and Elite Olshtain provide a useful overview of course design principles in their 1986 book on the subject.

  1. Concept: has it already been done well? Is it needed?
  2. Definition: what will be included?
  3. Objectives: what are the actual needs and goals of the target audience?
  4. Congruence: will the course plan fit with a given syllabus or curriculum?
  5. Voice: whose voices will be in the text and whom will they address?
  6. Teachers: who will have the most control and how much scope will there be for improvisation?
  7. Learners: how much responsibility will learners have and will the course match their cultural expectations and learning styles? How much freedom and risk will be encouraged?
  8. Point of view: how neutral or universal should the text, language and material be (e.g. in terms of age, sex, class etc.)?
  9. Inventiveness: what will be the balance netween internal structure/progression and adaptability/selection?
  10. Skills: how will language skills be integrated with structures, themes, situations, functions etc.?

Janice Yalden notes the following principles in designing tasks for language learning/teaching:

Tasks should:

  1. Be realistic;
  2. Have some kind of information gap;
  3. Be unpredictable and free in terms of language and meaning in order to encourage risk-taking, Independence and true language development;
  4. As far as possible meet the learners’ style, needs, expectations and interests.

Based on Yalden (1987) P.152

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.

Get ss to suggest adjective and noun pairs and write them in columns on the board:

ginger cat
rainy day
frothy coffee

etc.

Ss match unlikely combinations (WC-G-P) and have to explain why they work. This can be made into a points-based competition or fed mack to the class as mini presentations.

Ss could follow-up with short texts or mock dictionary definitions.

(Idea adapted from Five-Minute Activities by Penny Ur and Andrew Wright)

Hello again.

This blog is back in action! I have recently got a job at the local college, so I’ll be using this space as I originally had intended – for educational notes, records and research.

My other blog, Nautiloid Burblings, I shall keep for literary, artistic and other interests.

First up, the amazing Google Form.

I am working on a system to make lesson planning a little easier and quicker.

Google forms allow you to save to a spreadsheet that updates automatically and can have any number of contributors. Fantastic for teachers and students and anyone who needs to share complex information.

Note: I have removed the form to avoid possible confusion if anyone decided to add data!

Please comment if you are interested in working together on this type of project or if you want a link to my form.

A complete Wikibook on Blended Learning theory and practice.

A complete Wikibook on Blended Learning theory and practice.

Second run of tutorials this week.

Continued with Z working on Ableton Live. We couldn’t get the guitar to record on the audio interface, so we used samples to create a complete track. Then we experimented with envelopes to automate volume levels, but again we had trouble getting smooth curves, so we need to investigate how to do this. All in all it was a really good session though and Z achieved a lot.

A has produced a Powerpoint show based around the theme he chose last week on Sunsets. He used his own image and inserted text and automated transitions etc. But we were unable to place an audio track to run through the entire show, as it only seems to play through single slides. On a Mac this wouldn’t be a problem so we ended the session by planning to produce a video using A’s materials on a Mac using Keynote and iMovie to create a complete video and soundtrack which we will upload to YouTube.

Finally, M continued his Shark project. We added information to his Mind Map and used it to start a Keynote presentation. Then we watched the next segment of the Rob Stewart’s film Sharkwater. Pretty strong stuff. I tested M on information he had picked up from the film and he wrote up what he could remember into his presentation. We aim to complete it in the next session and convert it to a short video for YouTube.

This type of work would be ideal for the students at the Phoenix Academy, if we can get a Mac suite set up.

Second run of tutorials this week.

Continued with Z working on Ableton Live. We couldn’t get the guitar to record on the audio interface, so we used samples to create a complete track. Then we experimented with envelopes to automate volume levels, but again we had trouble getting smooth curves, so we need to investigate how to do this. All in all it was a really good session though and Z achieved a lot.

A has produced a Powerpoint show based around the theme he chose last week on Sunsets. He used his own image and inserted text and automated transitions etc. But we were unable to place an audio track to run through the entire show, as it only seems to play through single slides. On a Mac this wouldn’t be a problem so we ended the session by planning to produce a video using A’s materials on a Mac using Keynote and iMovie to create a complete video and soundtrack which we will upload to YouTube.

Finally, M continued his Shark project. We added information to his Mind Map and used it to start a Keynote presentation. Then we watched the next segment of the Rob Stewart’s film Sharkwater. Pretty strong stuff. I tested M on information he had picked up from the film and he wrote up what he could remember into his presentation. We aim to complete it in the next session and convert it to a short video for YouTube.

This type of work would be ideal for the students at the Phoenix Academy, if we can get a Mac suite set up.

I have just started helping out a friend with his sons’ learning skills and academic development. Yesterday, I did my first tutorial with Z. We wired up his M-Audio Axiom keyboard and an Audio Interface and loaded the bundled copy of Ableton Live Lite 6. I got him to record some MIDI drum loops and we added a bassline and synth part.

Our next plan is for him to find an image he likes online and then compose a short piece of music to represent it, as though he were completing a professional commission in adverstising, games design or whatever.

Looking forward to seeing what he comes up with for the next session, when we’ll focus on recording audio in Live.

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