structural based v.s task based syllabus

Topics: Linguistics, Second language acquisition, Language Pages: 17 (3888 words) Published: January 25, 2014
ISSN 1799-2591
Theory and Practice in Language Studies, Vol. 1, No. 10, pp. 1388-1393, October 2011 © 2011 ACADEMY PUBLISHER Manufactured in Finland.

Structure-based vs. Task-based Syllabus: The
Effect of Type of Syllabus on Listening
Comprehension Ability of Iranian University
Leila Mahmoudi
Faculty of Languages and Linguistics, University of Malaya (UM), 50603, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Email:

Seyed Yasin Yazdi Amirkhiz (corresponding author)
Department of English, Faculty of Foreign Languages, University of Tabriz, Iran Email:
Abstract—The present study attempted to investigate the effect of typology of syllabus (structure-based vs. task-based) on the listening comprehension ability of two homogeneous classes (50 participants) during a whole academic semester. The homogeneity was attained through administration of a pre-test taken from Barron’s TOEFL (Sharpe, 1996). The selected students were assigned to a structure-based and a task-based group. The subjects in the structure-based group were instructed through American Kernel Lesson: Intermediate (O’Neil et al., 1978), and the second group was instructed through Expanding Tactics for Listening: intermediate (Richards, 2005), representing the structure-based and task-based syllabus, respectively. Unlike the structure-based group, the task-based group demonstrated a considerable and statistically significant improvement in the post-test performance. The results of this study could be of pedagogic significance to syllabus designers, material developers as well as teachers. Index Terms—Structure-based Syllabus (SBS), Task-based Syllabus (TBS), listening comprehension

For many years, the role of listening in English teaching programs was undervalued and neglected. According to Richards (2002), until 1970s listening was hardly mentioned in journals at all. However, this neglected status of listening was shifted after Krashen (1985) theorized that comprehensible input was very instrumental in triggering language development. The significance of listening was further accentuated with the advent of Communicative Language Teaching (CLT). Therefore, as in other areas of language teaching, listening was approached and studied from different perspectives. Rubin (1994) enumerates five of them: 1) text characteristics 2) interlocutor characteristics 3) task characteristics 4) listener characteristics and 5) process characteristics. Despite the sizeable volume and the novel avenues of research opened for listening skill, it seems that the role of syllabus in teaching listening has been taken for granted. This is while the syllabus and the materials used for the purpose of teaching plays an essential role in the success or failure of any English teaching program. Nunan (1988) contends that the choice of a syllabus is a major decision in language teaching, and its part in the development of language teaching practices is indispensible. It is a truism to say that one of the most remarkable shifts in language education has been moving away from a structural syllabus to the one built around communicative tasks. Structural syllabus, as the name speaks for itself, is centered around structure of language. It focuses only on one aspect of language, namely grammar. However, task-based language teaching which is linked to CLT applies activities which involve real communication and the use of language for carrying out meaningful tasks. In fact, the meaningful language and tasks are considered as the important key for the learner‟s success (Richard & Rodgers, 2001, p. 223). Reviewing through the pertinent literature, the researchers discovered a research gap of the role of syllabus and materials in listening-related studies. This study is, in fact, a small attempt in this direction: to look into the degree of efficiency of the two types of syllabi (SBS and TBS) on listening...

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