A letter to the teachers of English: 89Curriculum Revision: another lesson for us [Archives:2005/858/Education]

July 11 2005

Dr..M.N.K.Bose ([email protected])
Associate Professor of English,
Faculty of Arts, Ibb

Dear Fellow teachers,

In my last two letters I have presented an exercise of curriculum revision that, in my personal view, is not of much use to the students for whom the curriculum was revised. Though my examples were a few, I hope you got the message of my letters. In this letter, I would like to present another exercise of curriculum revision taking place in another University in Yemen. I am writing about these exercises, taking into account the fact that you, my fellow teachers in Yemen, are the ultimate users of these curriculums. I sincerely feel that you should be aware of what has been taking place in the in-camera meetings of the professionals who are engaged in these academic exercises, because the primary interest of the professionals is nothing other than the interest of us viz. enabling our learners to learn English well.

Recently, I was involved in the curriculum revision exercise in a University in Yemen. Experts in different fields of English Language, who had a fairly thorough knowledge of the problems of our learners, their needs and expectations with rich experience in the field of English teaching, participated in the exercise. Their keen perception of the foundations of a curriculum, especially a curriculum for English teaching at the UG level provided a useful background to the exercise. It was made clear from the beginning that the learners' needs are the axis around which the curricular activities should revolve, and so the changes that have been suggested to the six-year old curriculum used at present add strength to the need-orientation of the curriculum.

The new proposed curriculum, if implemented, will help learners to learn and use English, which in turn will enable them to seek jobs after graduation with less difficulty. This will satisfy them, as there is a sincere attempt to meet their needs to a large extent. Of course, there is much to be done and the directions taken in the present proposals are a clue that there will be more changes for the benefit of the students in the future years to come.

Proposed courses include Computer Use in English, Vocabulary Building in English, Language Study Skills, for example. There can be no doubt that these along with the other courses can help learners to enrich their English language, language skills and communicative skills, which are the pre-requirement for better jobs in the national, international and multinational agencies. The proposals also include guidelines for teaching a few courses with a new thrust so that they benefit learners more than at present. The proposed curriculum is certainly not the 'old wine in a new bottle' kind nor is it a 'highbrow' kind nor is it too ambitious to achieve nor is it scholar-teacher oriented; on the other hand, it is learner-need oriented, student-friendly, teaching/learning-focused, more importantly goal-oriented, which is what we need in an EFL situation like in Yemen.

The success or fall of a curriculum is in the hands of the teachers who translate it into classroom activities; we can make the best of the worst or make the worst of the best; in fact, the former is what I think is happening in the case of the curriculum I discussed in my earlier letters and I only wish the latter doesn't happen to the present proposed curriculum I am discussing in this letter.

Yours fraternally,

Dr. M.N.K.Bose.