When to teach what (core syllabus)?

The British Council has just published some guidance on what should be taught at different levels for General English. This is very helpful when producing your own syllabus/lesson planning.

In a classroom environment, most teachers often rely on a course book for their syllabus (which may or may not have been well thought through). In 1-1 teaching one is free to design a mini-syllabus around your student, often focussing on confidence, fluency, and the particular needs and interests of the student.

However for longer or more academic courses/students, it is good practice to consider the broader syllabus in English language Teaching. In a publication called ‘Core Inventory for General English’ the British Council has attempted to produce a list of key language points that would typically be taught at different levels. You can view or download it here as a pdf document (go to page 6):

The inventory has 5 sections that relate to the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) levels A1 to C1 (elementary to lower advanced in old money). The sections are:

  • Functions
  • Grammar
  • Discourse markers
  • Vocabulary
  • Topics

For instance, at LEVEL B1 (Intermediate) the following language points would normally to covered:

  • Functions: describing places, expressing opinions, initiating and closing a conversation, checking understanding, describing experiences and events, describing feelings/emotions.
  • Grammar: must/can’t, may, might, past continuous, past perfect, present perfect continuous, reported speech, simple passive, Wh- questions in the past contd., will/be going to, for prediction, comparatives and superlatives, adverbs contd., intensifiers (eg too, enough), complex question tags etc.
  • Discourse markers: connecting words (cause and effect, contrast), linkers (past time) contd.
  • Vocabulary: travel and services contd., things in town contd., shops and services contd., colloquial language, collocation.
  • Topics: education, film, books and literature, leisure activities, media, news, lifestyles.
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