[A] Definition of objectives for LISTENING at ADVANCED LEVEL (taken from B. Carroll, British Council):
See the English Speaking Union Framework by Brendan Carrol & Richard West (1989). Contains performance scales for different LEVELS and SKILLS - therefore good for specifying objectives and defining standards in lesson planning, syllabus or test design.
SIZE : BBC English Magazine, Video "Airport"
COMPLEXITY: Tony Hancock's "Blood Donor"; "Listening Comprehension & Note-taking" Jordan
RANGE: Try with Panorama programme, BBC English Magazine Current Affairs, Interviews outside; outside speakers
SPEED [Normal]: Can keep up with normal lecture at conversation speed
FLEXIBILITY: Try with audio-cassette recordings from English Accents and Dialects by Hughes and Trudgill (Edward Arnold 1979) or from International English - A Guide to Varieties of Standard English by Trudgill and Hannah (Edward Arnold 1982). The BBC released a long playing record: English with an Accent, though you should have enough foreign accents in your school if you are learning English in a multilingual class. I believe the BBC also released an LP: English with a Dialect.
APPROPRIACY: Try with Alf Garnett, Eastenders or Coronation Street
No need to ask for repetition in ordinary topics presented under normal conditions at normal speed.
Understands coherent presentation, but hesitation by speaker may be as confusing as it is to a native speaker.
[B] Definition of objectives for READING from John Munby's Communicative Syllabus Design.
[C] Advanced learners can be categorized in terms of:
See (below) Investigating English Style by David Crystal and Derek Davy for a linguistic model which will allow you to analyse as special variety of English.
Advanced level learners often find themselves in positions of employment where English is important and where much is expected from them. Language school teachers will normally have the competence to help these learners with general aspects of register (e.g. politeness; appropriate forms of address), but will not necessarily know much about professional varieties of English.
Native speaker entering new work environments would need time to adjust to new language needs within their own cultures. English teachers are no exception.
A probable shortcoming of many of the expensive 1:1 courses offered in UK language schools is that teachers do not normally have more than a weekend's preparation time to gather materials appropriate to the varieties of English needed by their next clients and to familiarize themselves with new professional registers.
A teacher can prepare for these demands by spending some of their training in investigating English Style: e.g. the languages of advertising, marketing, banking, finance, economics, religion, literature, science, engineering, nursing, medicine, public administration, politics, air traffic control, tourism, hotel reception & hospitality, news, television, computing, telephony etc.
To learn a new professional register requires considerably more than a knowledge of new words. Stylistic Analysis looks at every level of language: phonetic (e.g. alliteration is important to politicians, advertisers and marketing executives), phonological, graphetic (e.g. lay-out in important in news and TV graphics departments), graphological, morphological, syntactic, grammatical, semantic and pragmatic.
Teachers are unlikely to have done much formal stylistic analysis unless they have chosen it as an option e.g. on a Masters Degree Course in Applied Linguistics.
Investigating English Style by David Crystal and Derek Davy
This work provides a model which linguists have been using from the late 1960s to describe special varieties of English, giving attention to phonology and syntax as well as lexis. The authors are aware of functional critera, though language courses based on notional functional criteria mainly follow the publication of D. A. Wilkins' "Notional Syllabuses" in 1976. However, Crystal and Davy's model of analysis continues to be very useful.
Describing Language by David Graddol, Jenny Cheshire and Joan Swann
The chapters of this book, which is useful across many social sciences, include the nature of language, the sounds of language, sentence and word structure, meaning, writing systems, face-to-face interaction and discourse and text. I covered these areas in some detail in an MA course in Second Language Learning and Teaching, ten years before this useful book was available. Professor Jenny Cheshire supervised my MA thesis, which was a stylistic analysis of the language of political party election manifestos. More recently, learners in UK Secondary Schools have been challenged with the task of textual or stylistic analysis as part of their English language project work. Previously, A-level English more commonly involved the study of English Literature rather than language. "Describing Language" provides a valuable resource, which makes linguistic description more accessible to Secondary as well as Higher Education. There has long been talk of bringing language awareness into the Secondary School curriculum, but there has been a shortage of really good materials on linguistic description. This title has helped to fill the gap.
See (below) John Munby's Communicative Syllabus Design to see what expensive language schools would have time to do in an ideal world.
In addition to LINGUISTIC ANALYSIS, familiarity with both general and specific varieties of English requires considerable FUNCTIONAL ANALYSIS.
Language schools get round this by making time in some 1:1 courses for NEEDS ANALYSIS. Part of this is often getting the learner to explain the roles which he or she has to perform using English.
The well-travelled ESP teacher, who has had many different postings, may be able to cover the generalities of a 'Sales' or 'Credit Control' department.
A few companies recruit their own English language teachers directly. If teachers remain in such postings for a second year, they will then have the opportunity to get down to specific language registers and to prepare their lesson materials according to the needs of the workplace.
Too often, companies use local language schools to supply their teachers, paying well for staff who are often underpaid by their employers. This system is advantageous should a teacher fall ill or need to be substituted quickly, but does not provide the settled position which would motivate a teacher to make themselves a specialist in a particular workplace.
Communicative Syllabus Design by John L. Munby.
John Munby's model (dating from the 1970s) for specifying syllabus design may look like overkill, but the book is a milestone in the history of ESP teaching and it certainly illustrates all the factors at play in situations where special varieties of language are used.
Further tools for functional analysis
"Threshold Level" and "Waystage" are the syllabus specifications set by the Council of Europe for modern language courses at the intermediate level and pre- intermediate levels respectively. Both sets of guidelines have been used by experts (e.g. linguists at the University of Reading in Berkshire!) who are called upon to help large companies and ministries of education in the design of their language curriculums. The needs analysis checklists provided in "Threshold" and "Waystage" are probably easier to work with than John Munby's very detailed procedures. Threshold and Waystage were last updated in 1990, which means that they are due for further revision in the light of developments such as Internet access (access to authentic texts on countless topics) and better communication technology (improved access to audio and video). "Communicative Syllabus Design", "Threshold" and "Waystage" are very good documents to have available when designing any special language syllabus. Search engines, available now to both teachers and learners, can locate masses of text, audio and video. However, needs analysis checklists have an important part to play in determining suitable search strings. To use a familiar analogy, digital TV owners now enjoy a choice of countless broadcast channels. The onus is no longer on quantity, but on quality.