In this video I present a model I have developed for designing language courses for specific purposes. By “language specific purposes” I understand the use of language for professional but also for broader career or life purposes, such as attending a conference, or relocating overseas. My presentation sets out by describing the procedure that I used to design the syllabus of my in-company Business English courses, which I believe is very common in our profession: based on a more or less specific needs analysis, brainstorming the syllabus items, including the language to be taught, using our intuition or our past experience. But brainstorming is not systematic, which means that on one day I may brainstorm some things and on a different day I would get different outcomes. Brainstorming relies on memory, so it will generate whatever stands out in our minds, either by being recent or prominent in our past experience. Also, there is no way to tell when the brainstorming process is complete, that is, when we have generated all the items necessary.
The model for syllabus design that I am proposing is instead grounded on a set procedure that works like a checklist, which ensures that
a) we stay within the terms of reference of our customer’s needs,
b) we generate virtually everything within those terms of reference (parts of which we can later decide to leave out), and
c) we go about designing the syllabus in the same, tested, manner.
The presentation in this video elaborates on a conference workshop I gave in Graz at the Summer Symposium of the IATEFL Business English Special Interest Group (BESIG), in June 2014.