XSL Content

Introduction to Syllabus Design and Language Teaching

General details of the subject

Face-to-face degree course

Description and contextualization of the subject

This course aims to present the fundamental concepts of syllabus design and language teaching, specifically as they apply to second / foreign language teaching and learning. It also explores the extent to which pedagogical practices in ESL/EFL classroom contexts are supported by what is currently known about how languages are learned.

More specifically, by the end of the course, students will be able to:

(i) Identify the main approaches to syllabus design and methodology;

(ii) Analyze the main teaching methods / approaches in second / foreign language teaching;

(iii) Recognise current trends in classroom research and how they can inform the syllabus design practice.

(iv) Design an instructional sequence for an ESL/EFL classroom which is informed by theory and research in second/foreign language acquisition.

Teaching staff

NameInstitutionCategoryDoctorTeaching profileAreaE-mail
BASTERRECHEA LOZANO, MARIAUniversity of the Basque CountryProfesorado AgregadoDoctorBilingualEnglish

Study types

TypeFace-to-face hoursNon face-to-face hoursTotal hours

Training activities

NameHoursPercentage of classroom teaching
Exams, evaluation tests10.013 %
Lectures30.040 %
Preparation and presentation of work15.020 %
Seminars20.026 %

Assessment systems

NameMinimum weightingMaximum weighting
Critical debate in the classroom5.0 % 10.0 %
Drawing up reports and presentations5.0 % 10.0 %
Team work (problem solving, project design).5.0 % 10.0 %
Work and explaining15.0 % 30.0 %
Written examination20.0 % 40.0 %

Ordinary call: orientations and renunciation

Distribution of final grade

 End-of-course presentation (30%)

 class participation (active contribution in seminars) (10%)

 short presentation (Unit 3) (10%)

 classroom / homework assignments (10%)

 final exam based on key concepts presented during class discussion and seminar readings (40%)

The percentage corresponding to the End-of-course presentation, class participation, short presentation and classroom / homework assignments will be considered if and only if the final exam has been passed.

For the practical component of the course, you will be required to do classroom / homework assignments, as well as an oral presentation consisting in the design of an instructional sequence in a teaching unit (6-8 hours of instruction) framed within one of the approaches (at your choice) that will be presented in class. Guidelines on the presentation will be provided in due course. Homework will be assigned throughout the course and will be returned the following week with the necessary comments.

Attendance policy: This is a graduate course; adequate class preparation, active and responsible class participation, and timely preparation are expected. Your contribution is encouraged and expected for productive class discussions. Therefore, class attendance is compulsory. You are not permitted to be absent without a very good reason and you should let me know of any planned absences in advance.

Exam: The use of mobile or electronic devices, notes, books is not allowed

Home-assignments: the work submitted by the students must be their own work and must have been written completely by themselves. The students must identify and include the source of all facts, ideas, opinions and viewpoints of others through in-text referencing and the relevant sources should all be included in the list of references at the end of their work. Direct quotations from books, journal articles, internet sources or any other source must be acknowledged and the sources cited must be identified in the list of references.

Extraordinary call: orientations and renunciation

Second and/or Subsequent Calls

Students who fail the course and/or the final exam will resit the failed part(s) in the Second Call in June. Grades obtained in the grading tasks (if 5 or above) will be carried over to the Second Call (June call), but not to subsequent calls.


Unit 1. Classroom research: current trends

1.1 Interactionist classroom research

1.2 Sociocultural classroom research

1.3 Action research

1.4 The effect of instruction

1.4.1 The effect of different types of instruction

1.4.2 The effect of explicit vs. implicit instruction

Seminar readings

De Graaff, R. & Housen, A. (2009). Investigating the effects and effectiveness of L2 instruction. In M. H. Long & C. J. Doughty (eds.), The Handbook of Language Teaching (pp. 726-755). Oxford: Blackwell.

Unit 2. Curriculum and syllabus design

2.1 Some preliminary questions

2.2 Defining basic concepts: Curriculum, syllabus, methodology, method, syllabus design, course design, lesson plan.

2.3 Curriculum theory: main approaches

Seminar readings

Finney, D. (2002). The ELT curriculum: A flexible model for a changing world. In J. Richards & W.A. Renandya (eds.), Methodology in Language Teaching. An Anthology of Current Practice (pp. 69-79). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Richards, J. C. (2013). Curriculum approaches in language teaching: Forward, Central, and Backward design. RELC Journal, 44(1): 5-33.

Unit 3.Teaching methods in second / foreign language teaching

3.1 Historical overview of methods

3.2 Current approaches

Seminar readings

Larsen-Freeman, D. (2001). Techniques and Principles in Language Teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Unit 4. Approaches to curriculum and methodology

4.1 Structural syllabus

Seminar readings

Ellis, R. & Shintani, N. (2014). Linguistic syllabuses and SLA. In Exploring Language Pedagogy through Second Language Acquisition Research (pp. 52-82). New York: Routledge.

4.2 Task-based language teaching

Seminar readings

Nunan, D. (2004). What is task-based language teaching? Task-based Language Teaching (pp. 1-18). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Nunan, D. (2004). A framework for task-based language teaching. Task-based Language Teaching (pp. 19-39). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

4.3 Project-based learning

Seminar readings

Stoller, F. (2002). Project Work: A Means to Promote Language and Content. In J. Richards & W.A. Renandya (eds.), Methodology in Language Teaching. An Anthology of Current Practice (pp. 107-119). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

4.4 Content and Language integrated learning

Seminar readings

Lyster, R. (2017). SLA perspectives on learning and teaching language through content. In A. Llinares & T. Morton (Eds.), Applied Linguistics Perspectives on CLIL (pp. 19-31). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Class material

The material for the course will be available in eGela ( You will find a copy of the reading assignments in the photocopy shop if needed (ground floor).

Requirements for written work

1. All written homework must be done by computer, double-spaced.

2. Assignments of more than one page must be stapled together.

3. Assignments must be handed in prior to the beginning of the class period that they are due.

4. Late assignments will receive no credit.


Basic bibliography


Clark, J.L. (1987). Curriculum Renewal in School Foreign Language Learning. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Council of Europe (2001). Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, teaching, assessment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Council of Europe (2017). The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, teaching, assessment.

Coyle, D. (2007). Content and language integrated learning: Toward a connected research agenda for CLIL pedagogies. The International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism 10: 543-562.

Decreto 236/2015, de 22 de diciembre, por el que se establece el currículo de Educación Básica y se implanta en la Comunidad Autónoma del País Vasco.

Decreto 127/2016, de 6 de septiembre, por el que se establece el currículo del Bachillerato y se implanta en la Comunidad Autónoma del País Vasco.

Ellis, R. & Shintani, N. (2014). Exploring Language Pedagogy through Second Language Acquisition Research. New York: Routledge.

Gobierno Vasco. Plan Heziberri 2020 (2017). Guía para la elaboración y evaluación de Unidades didácticas. <br /><br /> <br /><br />Gobierno Vasco. Heziberri 2020. Marco del Modelo Educativo Pedagógico. <br /><br /> Retrieved 1st september, 2018 <br /><br /> <br /><br />Harmer, J. (2015).The Practice of English Language Teaching (5th ed.). Harlow: Pearson Longman. <br /><br /> <br /><br />Holm, M. (2011). Project work: A Review of the Literature on Effectiveness in Prekindergarten through 12th Grade Classrooms. Insight: Rivier Academic Journal, 7(2), 1-13. <br /><br /> <br /><br />Lasagabaster, D. & Sierra, J. M. (2010). Immersion and CLIL in English: more differences than similarities. ELT Journal 64: 376-395. <br /><br /> <br /><br />Larsen-Freeman, D. (2001). Techniques and Principles in Language Teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press. <br /><br /> <br /><br />Lightbown, P. & Spada, N. (2006). How languages are learned (3rd edition). Oxford: Oxford University Press. <br /><br /> <br /><br />Mitchel, R. (2009). Current trends in classroom research. In M. H. Long & C. J. Doughty (eds.), The Handbook of Language Teaching (pp. 675-705). Oxford: Blackwell. <br /><br /> <br /><br />Nunan, D. (1988). Syllabus Design. Oxford: Oxford University Press. <br /><br /> <br /><br />Nunan, D. (2004). Task-Based Language Teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. <br /><br /> <br /><br />Ribé, R. & Vidal, N. (1993). Project Work. Step by Step. Oxford: Heinemann. <br /><br /> <br /><br />Richards, J. & Renandya, W. (2002). Methodology in Language Teaching. An Anthology of Current Practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. <br /><br /> <br /><br />Richards, J.C. & Schmidt, R. (2000). Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics (4th edition). Harlow: Pearson Education Limited. <br /><br /> <br /><br />Robinson, P. (2009). Syllabus design. In M. H. Long & C. J. Doughty (eds.), The Handbook of Language Teaching (pp. 294-310). Oxford: Blackwell. <br /><br /> <br /><br />Sierra, J.M. (2001). Project Work and Language Awareness: Insights from the Classroom. In D. Lasagabaster and J.M. Sierra (eds.), Language Awareness in the Foreign Language Classroom (pp. 181-202). Zarautz: UPV/EHU. <br /><br /> <br /><br />Skehan, P. (2010). Second and foreign language Learning and teaching. In M. Berns (ed.), Concise Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics (pp. 350-357). Oxford: Elsevier Ltd. <br /><br /> <br /><br />Swain, M. (2005). Classroom research. In E. Hinkel (Ed.), Handbook of Research in Second Language Teaching and Learning (pp. 225-240). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. <br /><br /> <br /><br />Van den Branden, K., Bygate, M. & Norris, J. M. (eds.) (2009). Task-based Language Teaching: A Reader. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.


Recommended web pages:






XSL Content

Suggestions and requests