Since it is impossible to teach the whole of a target language, selection of teaching materials is necessary. The teaching materials will be selected based on the objectives of the instruction, which are stated in the syllabus we have chosen. Our syllabus will tell us the objectives of our teaching either explicitly or implicitly. Since the objectives of our teaching can hardly be separated from our syllabus, types of language syllabus need to be discussed. The following section will address the types of language syllabus.

There has been much confusion as to what types of syllabus are possible in language teaching and to how different they are in the level of implementation. Knowing the syllabus types will help us to decide and choose the one(s) that is appropriate with our teaching goals and our situations and conditions. The following are some types of language teaching syllabus that will be distinctively discussed (Lingualinks Library, 1999).

1.      A grammar or structural syllabus. The content of the language teaching is a collection of the forms and structures of the language being taught.
a.       We decide on a set of forms and structures that the students have to learn and arrange them in increasing complexity, meaning from simple to complex forms and discourses.
b.      We decide a set of vocabulary to be learned together with forms and structures.
c.       We sequence the vocabulary, considering that concrete nouns and more common forms should be taught.
d.      We fit the vocabulary, forms and the structures together into a set of learning tasks.
Below are language materials that have been developed based on grammar syllabus (taken from SIDE BY SIDE: English through Guided Conversation by Molinsky and Bliss, 1983).
Book 2A
1.                  Simple Present Tense
Present Continuous Tense
Subject and Object
Possessive Adjectives

2.                  Simple Past Tense (Regular and Irregular verbs)
Past Continuous Tense

3.                  Future: Going To
Future: Will
Future Continuous Tense
Possessive Pronouns

4.                  Present Perfect Tense

5.                  Present Perfect Tense vs. Present Tense
Present Perfect Tense vs. Past Tense
For, Since

The benefit of a grammar syllabus is that students move from simpler to more complex structures and they may learn the structures more easily. Even though the materials seem to consider grammar-based arrangement, activities in the book enforce students to learn English through guided conversations. The disadvantage of this syllabus is that students are often preoccupied with grammar when they are learning communicative activities, which may block natural communicative process. This syllabus may be more useful in a context in which the students do not have immediately communication needs.

2.      A notional or functional syllabus. The content of the language teaching is a collection of the functions or the notions that are performed when the language is used.
a.       We make a list of communication functions of the language that students expect to master.
b.      We make a list of the semantic notions (meanings) based on the culture the speakers of the language.
c.       We group the functions and the notions together into learning tasks.
The example below is a language syllabus that has been developed based on notional syllabus (taken from Impact: English for Social Interaction by Watcyn-Jones, 1980).
Unit 1: Socializing
a.       how to approach the person you are meeting
b.      how to reply
c.       How to introduce yourself
d.      How to respond and reply to an introduction
e.       Etc.

Unit 2: Asking and Answering Questions
a.       How to ask and answer direct questions where a short Yes or No answer is expected
b.      How to ask and answer direct questions where a longer answer than Yes or No is expected
c.       How to ask a direct question when you already think you know what the answer will be
d.      Etc.
3.      Finding the Way
a.       How to ask someone the way
b.      Etc.

The benefit of a notional/functional syllabus is that students learn how to use the target language to express their own ideas, notions and purposes. The disadvantage of this syllabus is that different kinds of structures are often used to express the same functions so that it is difficult to arrange the structure of the target language from simpler to more complex forms. This syllabus may trigger language learners to use the target language to express their own emotions, ideas or purposes.

4.      A situational (topical) syllabus. The content of the language teaching is a collection of imaginary situations where the language is used.
a.       We make a list of communications situations that students may face.
b.      We make a list of topics, grammatical forms and vocabulary and sequence them.
c.       We group the topics, forms and structures and fit them with communication situations.
The teaching units below are language materials that have been developed based on situational syllabus.

Unit 1              At Post Office
Unit 2              At School
Unit 3              At the Airport
Unit 4              At Restaurant
Unit 5              Shopping
Unit 6              At Party

The benefit of a situational syllabus is that students learn how to use the target language in an authentic communication. The advantage of this syllabus is that when unexpectable situations happen in communication language learners are not accustomed to communicate in the language spontaneously. This syllabus is good for language learners who are preparing to go to a country where the language is being learned. This situational teaching has the goal of teaching specific language content that occurs in situation. 

5.      A skill-based syllabus. The content of the language teaching is a collection of specific skills in using the target language. Examples of skills in using the target language may include reading for the main idea, writing good paragraphs, and listening for the main idea.
a.       We make a list of language skills that students need to acquire.
b.      We make a list of topics, grammatical forms and vocabulary and sequences them.
c.       We group the topics, forms and structures and fit them with the language skills.

The language materials below have been developed based on skill-based syllabus (taken from Writing Academic English by Oshima and Hogue, 1983).
1          What is a paragraph?
            Paragraph Structure
                        The three parts of a paragraph
                        Two additional elements
                        Assignment format
                        How to write a title
            The Topic Sentence
                        Position of topic sentences
                        The two parts of a topic sentence
                        Writing topic sentences: two reminders
            The concluding Sentence
            Review: What is a Paragraph?

2                    Unity and Simple Outlining
Simple Paragraph Outlining 
            Simple outlines
            The 'equivalent value" rule
            The "parallel from" rule
Review: Unity and Simple Outlining
3          Etc.

The benefit of a skill-based syllabus is that students can specify their learning to reach their communicative competence, such as using telephone, booking a hotel, and others. The disadvantage of this syllabus is that it is harder to sequence the materials. This syllabus is good for those who want to learn specific language skills, such as the writing skill as the example above.

6.      A task-based syllabus. The content of the language teaching includes a series of purposeful tasks that language learners need to perform; tasks are defined as activities that are needed when using the target language. Examples of a task-based syllabus may include applying for a job, ordering food via the telephone and getting housing information over the telephone. This syllabus is similar to a situational syllabus but it focuses on more general linguistic competence that is less culturally loaded. 
a.       We make a list of abilities or tasks that students need to acquire.
b.      We make a list of topics, grammatical forms and vocabulary and sequences them.
c.       We group the topics, forms and structures and fit them with the tasks.

The following is a list of task-types used in a five-year project that consisted of teaching a small number classes in primary and secondary schools in southern India (Prabhu, 1987: 138).
1                    Diagrams and formations
a.       Naming parts of a diagram with numbers and letters of the alphabet, as instructed.
b.      Placing numbers and letters of the alphabet in relation to one another, as instructed, to arrive at particular formations.
c.       Placing numbers and letters of the alphabet in given crossword formats; constructing/completing such formats, as instructed.

2                     Drawing
a.       Drawing geometrical figures/formations from sets of verbal instructions.
b.      Formulating verbal instructions for drawing/completing such figures.
c.       Comparing given figures to identify similarities and differences.

3                    Clockfaces
a.       Telling the time from a clockface; positioning the hands of a clock to show a given time.
b.      Calculating durations from the movement of a clock's hands; working out intervals between given time.
c.       Stating the time on a twelve hour clock and a twenty-four hour clock; relating times to phases of the day and night.
4                    Etc.

The benefit of a task-based syllabus is that students learn to carry out activities using the target language. Language teaching through task-based syllabus occurs only as the need arises during the performance of a given task. The disadvantage is that students often learn to perform tasks and language learning is less emphasized.   

7.      A content-based syllabus. A content-based syllabus in language teaching is actually not a language syllabus. The primary purpose of instruction is to teach subject matter of the content course or information using the target language. The subject is primary and language learning occurs automatically while language learners are studying the subject. An example of a content-based syllabus is a science class that is taught in the target language.  
a.       We make a list of topics from the content (subject).
b.      We make a list of topics, grammatical forms and vocabulary and sequences them.
c.       We group the forms and structures and fit them with the topics.

The following is a list of topics that have been developed based on a content-based syllabus and is designed to improve the job-specific English of non-native speakers who are working or being trained in the telecommunications industry (Comfort, et al, 1994).

Unit 1              Networks
Unit 2              Transmission
Unit 3              Switching
Unit 4              Computer communications
Unit 5              Radio communications

The benefit of a content-based syllabus is that students feel satisfied with the purpose of learning the target language, namely acquiring information. The feeling of satisfaction will promote their learning. The disadvantage of this syllabus is that the content of instruction is not organized around the language teaching so that there is almost no teaching of the target language even though the students will automatically learn the language. This syllabus is often used in the immersion program, which has been addressed earlier. 

Some syllabus types may be overlapped with the others. To some extent a content- based syllabus is similar to a skill-based syllabus, in a content-based syllabus students are often involved in activities that link the skills. Students might read and take notes, listen and write a summary, or respond orally to things they have read or written (Richards and Rodgers, 2001: 208). Richards and Rodgers suggest that the teacher or course developer has the responsibility to identify relevant grammar and other linguistic focuses to complement the theme of activities in a content-based syllabus. This implies that the teaching materials are arranged a combination of skill-based and grammar syllabus and such a teaching program may also be called an immersion program. 

The types of syllabus mentioned above are not the only types of syllabus that are commonly known in the context of communicative teaching. There are some other types that are not very popular, such as interactional syllabus and learner-centered syllabus (Richards and Rodgers, 2001: 164).  In having which type of syllabus would work optimally in providing students with learning activities to gain communicative competence, we must take into consideration all factors that might affect the practicality and teachability of a particular syllabus. By experiencing each type of syllabus, we may finally choose one or two types of syllabus that are appropriate in our teaching settings, or combine the types of syllabus according to local conditions and needs.

Even though we define the types of syllabus in isolated contexts, we often combine them in actual teaching settings. No single syllabus may be appropriate for all teaching settings. We may combine them in more or less integrated ways, with one type as the basis with which the others are related. The guidelines to syllabus choice and design below may be worth considering (Reilly, 1988).
a.       We determine what outcomes are desired for the students in the instructional program or define what the students should be able to do as a result of instruction.
b.      We rank the syllabus types presented above as to their likelihood of leading to the outcomes desired.
c.       We evaluate available resources in materials and in training for teachers.
d.      We rank the types of syllabus relative to available resources and consider what syllabus types would be the easiest to implement given the available resources.
e.       We compare the lists of the syllabus types, make as few adjustments and produce a new ranking based on the resources constraints.
f.       We repeat the process, taking into account the constraints contributed by the teacher, student and other factors.
g.      We determine a final ranking, taking into account all the information from the earlier steps.
h.      We designate one or two types as dominant and one as one as secondary.
i.        We translate the decisions into actual teaching units.

Recently, many course designers agree with the combination of syllabus types without explicitly stating that they have combined syllabus types. Frodesen and Eyring (2000) seem to support the combination. In their book, The Grammar Dimensions, Platinum Edition, they introduce a technique for teachers to teach English and for students to use English grammar in communication accurately, meaningfully, and appropriately. This implies that we do not necessarily rely on a single type of syllabus. The grammar syllabus (accurately), which is often believed to be far from communicative competence, can be combined with notional syllabus (meaningfully) and situational syllabus, which deals with cultural settings (appropriately).

The following example illustrates the combination of syllabus types (taken from The Grammar Dimensions, Platinum Edition, Book 4, Unit 1).

One of the goals of the unit:
To use verb tenses correctly to describe events and situations.   

Looking at the goal above, it implies that the syllabus has been arranged in a grammar syllabus (verb tenses) but the grammatical unit is presented to express a notion (to describe events) in certain cultural settings (situations). The syllabus seems to have been meant for students to learn communicative competence of the language through grammar mastery without focusing on the grammar knowledge itself. The grammar is not considered as an end but the grammar is learned in contexts in order for students to be able to use the language in real communication. The book seems to have been developed in an integrated way, with grammar syllabus as the basis with which notional syllabus and situational syllabus are related.

The book The Grammar Dimensions is not only integrative in that the materials are arranged in a combination of several types of syllabus but the activities in the book also integrate the skills of the language. The following instructions are taken from a unit of the book, showing that the four skills are covered in one unit. The four language skills are taught in an integrative way.

Compare your lists with those of two or three other class members. Discuss which groups on your childhood lists have changed and which have remained important groups to you at the present time (p.1).

As an out-of-class assignment, write three paragraphs. For the first paragraph, describe a childhood in-group that was especially important to you. For the second paragraph, write about … (p.1).

Exchange the paragraphs you wrote for the opening tasks with a classmate. After reading the paragraphs, write one or two questions that you have about your classmate's in-groups and ask him or her to respond to them (p.4).   

The three instructions, which have been taken arbitrarily from one unit, have different learning targets.  The first instruction expects students to practice speaking and listening. The second instruction emphasizes writing skill and the third provides students with opportunities to practice reading. The activities that students are expected to do are integrative in the sense that they practice communicative competence of the four skills of the target language.

The skills of speaking, listening, reading and writing should reinforce one another. Consequently, a language teacher has to consider these four skills in dealing with students' learning activities. He/she may not leave one skill behind the others. He/she may start from one skill and continue with the other skills. What skill should go first depends on the purpose of your teaching and the levels of the students. Different writers may propose ideas of which skills should go first. In Silent Way method of Cattegno, reading should be worked on from the beginning but follows from what language learners already know (Larsen-Freeman, 1986: 59). After language learners can produce sounds in the target language and connect the sounds with the truth, they begin to read symbols in the target language. This process can begin after the first class and language teacher does not have to delay it.


To reach the goal, teaching materials may be arranged in different considerations and based on the considerations the materials will be arranged in different types of language syllabus. In language teaching contexts, there are six types of language syllabus, namely grammar syllabus, situational syllabus, notional syllabus, task-based syllabus, skill-based syllabus and content-based syllabus. Each syllabus has strengths and weaknesses and it tells us how the target language should be presented. Even though we have different types of syllabus in isolated contexts, we often combine them in actual teaching settings. We may combine them in more or less integrated ways, with one type as the basis with which the others are related.

1.      Canale, Michael and Merrill Swain. 1980. Theoretical Bases of Communicative Approaches to Second Language Teaching and Testing. Applied Linguistics, Vol. I, No.1.
2.      Comfort, Jeremy, Rod Revell, Ian Simpson, Trish Stott, and Derek Utley. 1994. English for the Telecommunications Industry. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
3.      Frodesen, Jan and Janet Eyring. Grammar Dimensions: Form, Meaning, and Use
4.      Larsen-Freeman, Diane. 1986. Techniques and Principles in Language Teaching. New York: Oxford University Press.
5.      Molinsky, Steven J. and Bill Bliss. 1983. Side by Side: English through Guided Conversation. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall Inc.
6.      Prabhu, N.S. 1987. Second Language Pedagogy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
7.      Reilly, Tarey. 1988. Approaches to Foreign Language Syllabus Design. Washington DC. ERIC Clearinghouse on Languages and Linguistics. Retrieved September 7, 2001, from  http://www.ed.gov/databases/ERIC-Digests/ed29460
8.      Richards, Jack C. and Rodgers, Theodore S. 2001. Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. http://www.ed.gov/databases/ERIC-Digests/ed29460
9.      ________________ and David Bycina.1985. Person to Person. Oxford University Press.
10.  LinguaLinks Library. 1999. How to design language syllabus. SIL International. Retrieved December 7, 2001, from http://www.sil.org/lingualinks/LANGUAGELEARNING  
11.  Oshima, Alice and Ann Hogue. 1983. Writing Academic English. Reading, Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company.

Direct Method

The Direct Method is a method of language teaching associated with Francois Gouin and Charles Berlitz. The method came about as much needed replacement for the Grammar Translation Method. The history of the method took a long way before it had its relatively typical features. At first the method was given different names in different countries and the sort of teaching engendered by the Direct Method was quite different among the countries. A brief story of the birth of the method adapted from Mackey (1975: 143-148) is presented here. 

 A long before Direct Method was widely used, there were a lot of reactions against the teaching of grammar through explanation and translation. One of The first extreme reactions was the idea that the target language was taught through inductive grammar by using texts written in the target language. With the coming of the inductive teaching of grammar, the Grammar Translation Method became an end.

In the latter half of the nineteenth century, there was a movement that advocated the abolition of translation and grammar, and the teaching of the target language through abundant listening. This way of teaching was then improved by adding physical activity in presenting language materials. One of the pioneers of this movement was Gouin of France. He applied principles of modern psychology to the learning of languages; he implemented the principles of the association of ideas, visualization, learning through senses, centers of interest, play and activity in familiar everyday situations. This way of teaching gave rise to the Direct Method movement.

Although Direct Method was introduced in France, the method was first ignored in the country. The method found some support in Germany, Scandinavia, and finally people in France accepted the method at the turn of the century. Later, the method was also developed in England and the United States. Since the method was developed in different countries, the language teaching engendered by this method was at first disorganized and different people tried to understand the ideas introduced by Gouin in different ways.

The Direct Method was finally developed in different directions in different countries. In Germany, the modification of the Direct Method took a form of Eclectic Method, which was the combination of the Direct Method and the Grammar Translation Method. In England the Direct Method was widely used but people gradually drifted back to some forms of grammar translation approach. In Belgium the method had a compromise with the natural method. In the USA the Direct Method was not popular and Americans tried out the new "reform" method, proposed by Vietor. He proposed a new approach to language teaching by using the spoken language as a starting point and providing descriptive phonetics. In his approach new materials were taught through gestures and pictures and through the use of words already known. The grammar was also taught but done in inductive way through the study of texts. His approach was also known the Phonetic Method or Reform Method. The methods proposed by Gouin and Vietor might give rise to the Direct Method. 

Even though the Direct Method has derived from psychology, the method has some principles related to learning foreign languages. The following principles are some of the characteristics of the Direct Method regarding to language learning.
1.    Grammar is taught by situation and through inductive process.
2.    The syllabus is based on situations and related to everyday vocabulary and structure.
3.    Grammar and vocabulary is taught orally.
4.    Concrete meanings are made clear by presenting physical objects and abstract ones through association of ideas, not through translation.
5.    Repetition of new materials is encouraged to make language learners acquire the language naturally.
6.    Listening and imitating sounds are drilled so that language learners become automatic in producing the sounds.
7.    Language learners learn the target language in the class most of the time.
8.    Sounds of the language are essential and presented at the beginning of the course.
9.    Reading follows listening and speaking, and the reading texts are based on the materials of the two skills.
10. Many new items are presented in the same lesson in order to make the language natural.

The principles of the Direct Method kept developing from year to year. There was always some effort to systemize the teaching of language and the method was also combined with other traditional methods. Descriptive phonetics and reading texts were also added to the method to meet the demands at that time. The combination with the traditional methods was eventually called "eclectic method".

Even though a theory of language in the Direct Method is not explicitly articulated, in this chapter the assumptions about language underlying the method have been crystallized from different sources (Larsen-Freeman, 2000 and Mackey, 1975). In the Direct Method language is seen as what native speakers speak so that language learners not only learn the target language but also the culture of the native speakers. The method also suggests that language is seen as a set of grammatical rules and its vocabulary in real situations. Grammatical rules and its vocabulary are presented in texts: oral or written texts. Language teachers should use the grammar and vocabulary in contexts and then relate them to the situations in the classroom. The materials are arranged based on topics. Learning a target language means that the students are able to communicate in the target language, both oral and written forms.

As long as the target language spoken by the language learners is understood by others, the language spoken is accepted. Vocabulary is emphasized over grammar. If language learners do not understood some words, the language teacher will demonstrate in the target language to make the students understand the meanings through pictures, mimics or other physical objects. Pronunciation is essential since mispronouncing a word may hinder communication. Grammar is learned after the learners are able to use the language; this leads to grammar teaching in an inductive way. The teacher should provide many examples so that the students can draw conclusions from the examples. There is no explicit grammar rule given by the teacher but vocabulary exercises and systematic grammar drills may be given    

The Direct Method also sees that the four skills: speaking, listening, reading and writing reinforce another but oral communication is seen basic. Language is primarily spoken, not written, and reading and writing may be given from the start but they are given after the students practice using the language orally. If the materials to teach are reading texts, they should follow oral practice. Translation into the first language is avoided, even though at a more advanced level translation can be added as a part of vocabulary exercises and grammar drills. The textbook in the Direct Method is not a must and language teachers may work on grammar and vocabulary orally but no explicit grammar rule is discussed.

Even though the advocates of the Direct Method agree that structure and vocabulary is taught, the two components of the language must be taught in contexts. The evaluation in the class should be related to communication. The students are not asked about the knowledge of the language but they are asked to use the language. The evaluation can be done to measure both written and oral skills. The students may be interviewed orally to know how far they can use the language orally. The students may also be asked to write a sentence or paragraph so that their skill of using the language in written forms can be evaluated.

Like other methods, the Direct Method also has assumptions about language learning. Some of the assumptions seem to be similar to natural method.  The following are basic assumptions about language learning of the Direct Method.
1.    Meanings are made clear by presenting physical objects, such as pictures, gestures and pantomimes. Translation may be an easy way to make meanings clear but it will not make the students learn the target language naturally. Natural learning proves to be more effective in learning another language. 
2.    Self-correction is more emphasized than teacher correction. This will make the students think in the target language, not do parroting. This can be done by asking them to make a choice between what they said and an alternative answer provided by the teacher. Self-correction can also done by repeating what they said in a questioning voice to signal to the students that there is something wrong.
3.    Vocabulary is learned more effectively if they use it in full sentences rather than memorize it. The teacher can repeat new words by asking them to the students several times in different contexts and eliciting the situations in order for the students to use the words.
4.    Teaching another language means taking a role as a partner of the students in communications. The interaction between the teacher and the students are two-way interaction. The teacher can ask the students and vice versa. Besides functioning as a partner, the teacher is also a facilitator; he can show the students what errors they have made and how they correct the errors.
5.    Students should learn to think in the target language as soon as possible. The teacher avoids teaching individual words and full sentences will encourage the students to think in the target language. Vocabulary is acquired more easily and naturally if the students use it in full sentences, rather than memorizing word lists.
6.    Students should be actively involved in using the target language in realistic everyday situations.

As stated earlier, language teaching presented through the Direct Method may take different forms. No standardized procedure characterizes the method. Different people may develop their own procedures as long as the procedures are based on the principles of the method. Nowadays, there is not much literature related to the method even though still many people use techniques that can be classified under the principles of the method in teaching another language in the classroom. The principle procedure is that language is first introduced through the ear, and then reinforced through the eye and hand by reading and writing. The following procedure is adapted from Larsen-Freeman (2000: 26-28). 
1.    Each student has a reading passage in front of him/her.
2.    The students are called on one by one and they read the text loudly.
3.    After the students finish reading the passage, they are asked in the target language if they have questions.
4.    The teacher answers the students' questions in the target language.
5.    The teacher works with the students on the pronunciation.
6.    The teacher gives questions to the students and the questions and statements are about the students in the classroom.
7.    The students make up their own questions and statements and direct them to other students in the classroom.
8.    The teacher instructs the students to turn to an exercise in the lesson which asks them to fill in the blanks.
9.    The students read a sentence out loud and supply the missing word as they are reading.
10. The teacher asks the students to take out their notebooks and he/she gives them a dictation; the passage is about the topic that has been discussed.

Another way of teaching a language through the Direct Method is also suggested by Titone (cited in Richards and Rodgers, 2001: 12). This way is actually not a procedure but more as a set of techniques suggested by Berlitz, one of the American reformers who attempted to build a language teaching methodology based on the Direct Method. These techniques are still popular among language teachers even though these techniques are not arranged procedurally.

Never translate: demonstrate
Never explain: act
Never make a speech: ask questions
Never imitate mistakes: correct
Never speak with single words: use sentences
Never speak too much: make students speak much
Never speak the book: use your lesson plan
Never jump around: follow your plan
Never go too fast: keep the pace of the student
Never speak too slowly: speak normally
Never speak too quickly: speak naturally
Never speak too loudly: speak naturally
Never be impatient: take it easy

As stated earlier that there is no fixed procedure of the Direct Method. This causes confusion among language teachers; language teachers may argue that they have used the Direct Method in the class even though they may not have used it in a real sense. Referring to the concepts of approach, method and technique introduced by Anthony, which has been discussed in module one (cited in Richards and Rodgers, 2001: 19), probably, the Direct Method is not a real method since there is no overall plan of language teaching. The method only refers to assumptions about language and language learning, and some techniques that have been developed from the assumptions. It is understandable since the method had been born long before the concept of method itself was introduced in 1963.

The birth of the Direct Method really contributed a great deal of improvement in teaching another language in the world. Because of the method language teaching gradually has swung from the teaching of grammar to teaching to communicate in the target language. The Direct Method is believed to be the first method that encourages language teachers to teach a second/foreign language by modeling first language learning. In this method grammar is taught inductively with no explanations of grammar rules, which is really an improvement in language teaching.