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Vincent Jerven E.

November 24, 2010

Making a Course Syllabus

According to Altman (2000), based on etymology, syllabus means

“label” or “table of contents”. It should include an outline, schedule of topics
and other pertinent information related to the course. It is laid out in a
descriptive manner. It is often set out by an exam board or prepared by a
professor who ensures the quality of the course.
Its primary purpose is to acquaint the students as to what the course is
about, why the course is taught, where it is going and what will be required
of the students for them to complete the course with a passing grade. In
other words, a syllabus is a basis of common understanding between the
instructor and the student. Moreover, the syllabus: aids the instructor in
course design and development; lists general administrative and logistical
information; delineates policies and expectations; presents an overview of
the course content; provides information on schedules, assignments and
exams; influences student attitudes and increases motivation; serves as a
starting point for mutual discussion; serves as a study guide for students;
and meets administrative needs and requirements. In this model, a "notion"
is a particular context in which people communicate.
There are different types of syllabus. One type is the notional
functional model, which is a way of organizing a language-learning
curriculum, rather than a method or an approach to teaching. In a notional-
functional syllabus, instruction is not organized in terms of grammatical
structure, as had often been done with the audio-lingual method (ALM), but
instead in terms of "notions" and "functions." A "function" is a specific
purpose for a speaker in a given context. For example, the "notion," of
shopping requires numerous language "functions," such as asking about
prices or features of a product and bargaining. Other types of syllabus are:
Grammatical syllabus, Lexical syllabus, Situational syllabus, Text-based
syllabus, Skill-based syllabus, Task-based syllabus, Learner-generated
syllabus, and Mixed syllabus.
On the major content areas of the syllabus, it should include: the
course information, instructor information, text and reading materials,
textbooks, supplementary readings, materials, course description/objectives,
course calendar/schedule, course policies, attendance, class participation,
missed exams/assignments, grading system, and other available support


Altman, H.B. (2000). Syllabus shares "What the Teacher Wants." The
Teaching Professor, 3, 1-2
Brown, H. Douglas (May 6, 2007). Teaching by Principles: An Interactive
Approach to Language Pedagogy (3rd ed.). Pearson ESL. ISBN 978-

Gronlund, N.E. (2005). Stating Objectives for Classroom Instruction (3rd ed.).
New York: Macmillan.

Ryan. M.P., & Martens, G.G. (2009). Planning a College Course: A Guidebook
for the Graduate Teaching Assistant. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan,
National Center for Research to Improve Post-Secondary Teaching and

Stark, J.S., & Lowther, M.A. (2006). Designing the Learning Plan: A Review of
Research and Theory Related to College Curricula. Ann Arbor:
University of Michigan, National Center for Research to Improve Post-
Secondary Teaching and Learning.