An objective refers to a statement of specific changes a program seeks to ring about and results from an analysis of the aim into its different components. Objectives generally have the following characteristics:
• They describe what aim seeks to bring achieve in terms of smaller units of learning.
• They provide a basis for the organization of teaching activities.
• They describe learning in terms of observable behavior or performance.
The advantages of describing the aims of course in terms objectives are:
• They facilitate planning: once objectives have been agreed on, course planning, materials preparation, textbook selection, and relate processes can begin.
• They provide measurable outcomes and thus provide accountability: given a set of objectives, the success or failure of a program to teach the objectives can be measured.
• They are prescriptive: they describe how planning should proceed and do away with subjective interpretations and personal opinions.
Statements of objectives have the following characteristic:
• Objectives describe a learning outcome.
• Objectives s should be consistent with the curriculum aim.
• Objectives should be precise.
• Objectives should be feasible.
Sound objectives in language teaching are based on an understanding of the nature of the subject matter being taught( e.g. listening, reading, speaking, writing), awareness attainable levels of learning for the basis, intermediate, or advanced-level learners, and the ability to be able to describe course aims in term of logical and well-structured units of organizations. Objectives are therefore normally produced by a group of planners who write sample objectives based on their knowledge and experience and revise and refine them over time.
Competency-based program outcomes
An alternative to the use of objectives in program planning is to describe learning outcomes in terms of competencies, an approach associated with Competency-Based Language Teaching (CBLT). CBLT shifts the focus to the ends of learning rather that the means. As general educational and training approach, CBLT seeks to improve accountability in teaching through linking instruction to measurable outcomes and performance standards.
The characteristics of CBLT are described by Schneck (1978,vi):
: competency –based education has much in common with such approaches to learning as performance-based instruction, mastery learning and individualized instruction. It is outcome-based and is adaptive to changing needs of students, teachers and the community….. Competencies differ from other student goals and objectives in that they describe the student’s ability to apply basic and other skills in situations that are commonly encountered in everyday life. Thus CBLT is based on set of outcomes that are derived from an analysis on tasks typically required of students in life role situations.
Non-language outcomes and process objectives
A language curriculum typically includes other kinds of outcomes. If the curriculum seeks to reflect values related to learner centeredness, social Reconstructionism, or cultural pluralism, they are named non-language outcomes. Those that describe learning experiences rather than learning outcomes are known as process objectives.
There are eight broad categories of non-language outcomes in Australian teaching (Jackson 1993, 2): Social, psychological, and emotional support in the new living environment; confidence; motivation; cultural understanding; knowledge of the community context; learning about learning; clarification of goals; access and entry into employment, further study, and community life.
Objectives in these domains relate to the personal, social, cultural, and political needs and rights of learners. Non-language outcomes represent more than desirable or optional by-products of the language learning process. They are thus teaching and learning issues strongly related to issues of access and equity for non-English-speaking background learners and workers.
Another category of outcomes is sometimes referred to as process objectives. In general education these are associated with the ideas of Bruner (1996) and Stenhouse (1975). Bruner argued that children should acquire through the processes of inquiry and deliberation. Stenhouse argued that the curriculum should focus on activities that engage learners in such processes as investigation, decision making, reflection, discussion, interpretation, making choices, cooperation with others, etc. With this approach it is suggested that detailed specification of objectives is not needed.
Objectives in the category of learning how to learn refer to learning strategies. Learning strategy theory suggests that effective learning involves:
Developing an integrated set of procedures and operations that can be applied to different learning
Selecting strategies appropriate to different tasks
Monitoring strategies for their effectiveness and replacing or revising them if necessary
The English Language Syllabus for the Teaching of English at Primary Level (1991) in Singapore includes a number of categories of process objectives, they are: thinking skill, learning how to learn, language and culture. The planning of learning outcomes for a language course is closely related to the course planning process.
Establishing realistic goals
The information gathered during the fact-finding stage is utilized by a policy-making authority whose job it is to prepare guidelines for new courses. At the national level, the authority might be a curriculum advisory committee, while at the local level it could be a teachers’ committee. The process requires translating societal needs and expectations into operational and attainable goals. The teachers’ committee would prepare both the specifications of the goals and the course syllabus with its more specific objectives.
1. In an EFL setting
In an EFL setting, the purpose of introducing an additional language into our educational system is to allow communication with the rest of the world. The main objective learning an additional language is to allow for personal growth and enrichment. Both of these quite general statements might lead policy makers towards different types of decisions.
If the emphasis is on the communicative aspect of language learning, then planners are likely to design a utilitarian-oriented syllabus, one which encourages the development of communication-type teaching materials. In some countries, general goals of language program might be defined more narrowly if the system has different types of schools, for example: academic high schools, scientific high schools, vocational high schools, etc.
On the basis of the broader goals, it is necessary to set up a number of intermediate objectives in an attempt to specify expected outcomes at each stage.
2. In an ESL setting
In an ESL where learners have moved to a new environment in which the target language plays a crucial role in the overall process of acculturation, individual needs and wants are more pronounced. The broader goals may simply state: ‘learners are expected to eventually use the language as “near” native speakers.’
In this kind of situation, courses for both children and adults must set up goals to fit individual needs and wants by reflecting social objectives as well as academic, professional or occupational ones.
3. Planning for courses outside the school system
ESP courses are often financed by the participants’ employer. Therefore, the overall goals are set up by the employer’ representative. In a course for ‘management English”, for instance, the stated objectives might be for learners to develop the following abilities: (a) to negotiate in English with clients, (b) to correspond with foreign companies, (c) to lead business meetings in English, (d) to develop a richer business vocabulary, (e) to communicate over the telephone, etc. For such a course to be successful it is necessary to broaden objectives to include both the company’s requests and the participants’ own personal agendas.
4. Language analysis or language use as course goals
Establishing goals must be influenced by current trends in the language teaching profession. When a ‘language analysis’ approach is favored, emphasis is placed on grammatical analysis and on language philosophy. When ‘language use’ is favored. The focus is on utilization of the target language for actual communication.
A problematic area for course planners and materials writers is that of using the output of linguistics or the analyses of language as the sole or even primary input for course designs and materials.
Surveying Existing Programs
Most new programs are designned either to remedy the deficiencies in existing ones or to expand and improve them. In describing a oprigram currrently in operation, five basic component below are needed. Only by understanding the strengths and weaknesss of the existing program can be better one be developed.
The Existing Syllabus
The syllabus, the first component to be examined, is the vehicle through which policy-makers convey information to teachers, textbook writers, examination commitees, the learner concerning the program. It is the content of the document which concerns program designers, not what it might. Be called in a specific setting. It is a document which ideally describes:
1. What the learners are expected to know at the end of the course, or the course objrctives in operational terms.
2. What is to be taught or learned during the course.
3. When is to be taught, and at what rate of progress, relating the inventory of items to the different levels and stages as well as to the time constraints of the course.
4. How it is to be taught, suggesting procedures, techniques, and materials.
5. How it is to be evaluated, suggesting testing, and evaluating mechanism.
The syllabus becomes a useful starting point in surveying the existing situation. The course goals, may be onrealistic such a situation might be typical of the goal of a one-semester course for foreigners where the planners expect full communicative ability, but in terms of available time this is a comlpletely unrealistic goal. Some section of the curiculum or syllabus should reflect the philosophical and educational approach that guided the policy-makers, but such an approach may be outdated or unsuitable for learners’ present needs. If this discrepancy is discovered in examnining the syllabus, the next step in the invstigation is much clearer, since the effect of the syllabus on slecting and developing materials and teacher training is of utmost significance.