A student recently expressed that he wanted greater structure for his Spanish lessons and also wanted to have a clearer sense of what he would be learning when. He said that he wanted a textbook and practice exercises. I am reluctant to head too far down the coursebook path for various reasons such as the likely greater focus on grammatical forms than on communicative competencies, the lack of individualization (and therefore relevance to students’ lives) and the limited amount of textbook-like resources for Spanish that are available online.
To address the student’s concerns, I have developed a kind of syllabus that gives greater structure to the classes and yet is naturally student focused. This syllabus is based around situations that the student may well find himself in and themes that he is interested in. There is a tendency for certain communicative skills to be foregrounded according to the situation, but neither specific linguistic skills nor grammatical forms are the driving force behind this syllabus. Instead, there is considerable flexibility with how the student and teacher jointly interpret the activities proposed by the syllabus.
The syllabus contains the following sections…
- Subjects for discussion: My World activities are suggested topics of conversation that focus on the students’ own lives. There are also suggestions of how to ensure that these in-class conversations are pedagogically fruitful.
- Situations for role-play: Practical Simulation activities are unscripted role-plays that allow students to prepare for everyday scenarios that they anticipate encountering in the near future.
- Teacher’s guide to help teachers use the syllabus. The guide includes support on preparing lessons and on how to teach using the syllabus.
- The student guide helps students understand what their role could and perhaps should be in the learning process.