What Needs Are Being Met by School Curricula?
The curriculum for English as a second language is important because in most cases the curriculum focuses on students from different backgrounds whose first language is not English. Basically, the curriculum is designed to cover the basic language needs for conversation and then as students advance, there are some changes that target to attain proficiency.
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Even though every student who enrolled for the class needs to learn to speak the language, they also have individual needs and as such assessment of literacy is a very critical factor of the ESL curriculum (Graves, 2000, p. 3). There are various factors why student may need to learn the language; they include getting a job, to be able to communicate in their new neighbourhood and so on. If these specific needs seem not to be met, the student could even drop because of dissatisfaction.
The assessment is therefore design to evaluate what learners know and what they can do, and then the objectives are set based on what they want to achieve (Graves, 2000, p. 207). These goals lead to the assessment of the proficiencies the students have attained.
The objective of the curriculum is to provide the students with basic interpersonal conversational abilities so that the student can easily conduct face to face discussion in a classroom or outside socializing context (Graves, 2000, p. 157). These basic skills are dominated by contextual cues that direct the speech and may not be completely grammatically correct.
With increased understanding of English, the students the curriculum then seeks to impart adeptness of cognitive language proficiency. This is the English that is context reduced and basically gives the student ability to write grammatically correct texts even when addressing other subject like sciences (Graves, 2000, p. 159). At this level it requires very high cognition where student gain so much awareness of the influence of the language on social and cultural aspects of life.
Finally, the curriculum builds the affective aspect of students where they develop confidence in themselves, their talking, and writing and they appreciate their contribution to knowledge and they can find their own ways of how they can improve their understanding.
What Hidden or Implicit Agendas Can Be Found In School Curricula?
The hidden agenda of English is that it provides a way that the student will be exposed to exceedingly euro-centred learning. English has become a de facto language for science and for uses at workplaces and in some instances communication in proficient English is a show of class (Graves, 2000, p. 229). It’s usually assumed that by the fact the students have opted to study English as a second language, and then they are likely to be from middle class backgrounds and therefore will have great exposure to other cultures, job opportunities, businesses and education due to the increased interaction that will come because of being able to communicate in English (Graves, 2000, p. 229).
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Language is basically a tool of formulating view and opinions based on experiences and then to communicate this to others. This is a representation to personalities and their beliefs. This is why curriculum can communicate views if the authors of textbooks used.
Every student has a role that he/she is set to play in the society and these particular roles are incorporated in the hidden curriculum objectives. Students are prepared for menial and expert positions and they learn the matching language of subservience (Graves, 2000, p. 232). Because many students who take ESL are adults and likely to be working, the class discussions are usually in the context of workplace conversations. However, instructors are usually sensitive to culture and take each students own context as a basis for study because there is so much diversity and some activities may not be of interest to other students. For instance, Asian students do not like rock climbing or parachuting topics because it’s not so much realistic to them.
ESL curricula are very important despite their design because they have a common goal and arms the instructors with concrete tools to determine what should be taught and assessed. This advances the students learning and the instruction can be modified to address specific needs of the students as required.
Graves, K. (2000). Designing Language Courses: A Guide for Teachers, Boston, MA: Heinle & Heinle.