The abundance of abbreviations in English language pedagogy must seem overwhelming to the newcomer: ELT, TESOL, ESL, TEFL, EIL, etc. However, these all refer to the profession of teaching English as a foreign language. The abbreviations signal the regional characteristics, similarly to the main purpose of the authors. Writing a book about curricula design and implementation? How is this feasible, since educational systems vary not even from continent to continent, but sometimes even within one country, depending on counties and locally defined areas. Volume III, however, tackles this problem brilliantly, following the footsteps of the two previous Volumes, where the focus was set on the underlying principles of language teaching as well as on classroom management, planning, and assessment. Volume III takes it further: the reader ventures into the realm of curricula design and implementation.
MaryAnn Christison and Denise E. Murray's book entitled What English Language Teachers Need to Know Volume III has been written especially for novice teachers, pre-service trainees, and fresh graduates with little practice, as well as for policymakers hoping to gain insight into the concepts of curricular development and design. It is a daunting task to grasp the complexity of curricula, since their characteristics and implementation are often region- and context-related. This accounts for the authors' decision of dividing the book into six major parts, where the chapters focus on various aspects of the definition and implementation of curricula. Part I scrutinises the general context of curricular design, with regard to different policymakers and educational stakeholders. The concept of a curriculum is considered here as a sociocultural artifact shaped by local/regional features and decisions. Also explored in this section is how curricula reflect wide varieties of English and tackle multilingual contexts; it also examines how technology affects the curriculum development process. Part II is an introduction to the practical side of curriculum design, as it focuses on the process of designing curricula for specific contexts. The authors of the book claim that planning, implementation, and evaluation are not linear phases of curriculum design, but rather are cyclical. Part II also tackles the issue of connectivity—that is, how classes, lessons, and courses can be linked to each other in a logical yet natural way.
Parts III through VI draw upon a wide range of examples to illustrate various curricular themes. These sections are probably the most exciting parts of the book, as they detail and display some specifically designed curricula: linguistic-based, content-based, learner-centred, and learning-centred. Part III treats the linguistic approach and navigates the reader through various types of structural-focused curricula, with many practical examples for novice teachers, such as one based on the four respective language skills (listening, speaking, reading, writing), as well as a novel approach based on multi-skill acquisition. Part IV explores the content-based curriculum: CBI (content-based instruction) is an integration of content and language. The authors guide the reader through the maze of teaching content through language from the primary to the tertiary level. Part V introduces the learner-based approach, which negotiates process rather than content. Here the curriculum is designed to focus more on how learners learn than on what they are learning. It considers the specific learning environment, the importance of which is that it supports teachers working in socially-disadvantaged, multilingual, or other complex classroom contexts. Part VI gives examples of learning-centred curricula, emphasizing aspects of what learners already know and can do. This section highlights such concepts as competency-based and goal-oriented curricula and scrutinises outcomes, standards, and goal-setting.
Volume III was written for anyone involved in teaching English (as a foreign language), regardless of the country or its official language. The authors' attempt to become inclusive and general, yet specific has been accomplished, which makes the book a highly enjoyable and substantially professional read.