Free Link to Evaluate New K-3 Software

June Main Page
Online Newsletter at Abu Dhabi Women's College
Featured ESL Professional
Report from JALTCALL2002
Building a CALL lab
Who has time for tech projects?
Training Thai teachers with CANHELP
An Index of ESL MiniConference Stories
Notes and contacts
Search the site

Submit your email,
join ESL MiniConference

ESL MiniConference Online!

Teaching Well Within An Imperfect Curriculum
An Argument For Flexibility and Harmony in ESL

Robert Bruce Scott There was an intense exchange on the TESL-L listserv recently regarding how teachers can respond to a situation in which their own sense of what their students need seems to clash with the curriculum and policies at the place where they teach. Here is my brief contribution to this important discussion.

There have been some very interesting and closely related queries on the list yesterday and today regarding the dilemma a teacher faces when his/her assessment of the needs of the students conflicts with the school's curriculum and materials.

In the ideal ESL/EFL program, such a conflict would result in the school making changes in its curriculum to more closely match what the teachers say the students need. In that same ideal school, teachers would encourage and train their students to express their needs and interests, as the starting point for changes in the curriculum. Christopher Candlin has written and spoken about this ideal very eloquently.

In reality, however, we know that there are about as many different dynamics as there are distinct programs and schools. I've been in programs where there was no written curriculum and teachers were completely free to develop their own syllabuses; I've also been in programs which forced teachers to follow a tightly-controlled textbook plan. And I've supervised teachers, trying to toe a fine line between encouraging creativity and requiring a certain standard.

Early in my ESL career, I was fortunate enough to spend a few months working with Keith Pharis, then the director at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale's Nakajo campus in Japan. He told me that as teachers it is important to recognize the difference between rules and policies which "impede" our teaching and others which simply "impinge" on what we do in the classroom. It serves not only the institution but our students best when we try to be less selfish and look for ways to work within the curriculum, ways to make it work for them.

By Robb Scott
Editor, ESL MiniConference Online

2002 ESL MiniConference Online