Statements of Best Practice

for Curriculum

The program supports the ongoing development and renewal of curriculum that is relevant to learners’ present and future needs, is based on principles of second language acquisition and adult learning, and provides a flexible framework to guide the teaching/learning process.
37. (a) The curriculum is clearly articulated and provides a flexible and accessible guide to the teaching/learning process.
  • The curriculum articulates the following:
    • The program’s purpose/mandate/goals
    • Learning objectives
    • Suggested approaches and methods
    • Tasks and teaching/learning activities
    • Resources (materials, textbooks, technology)
    • Measurable outcomes
    • Assessment strategies and assessment tools that are directly connected to the learning outcomes
  • The curriculum is readily available.
  • The curriculum is easy to use.
  • The curriculum allows for differences in teaching styles.
  • The approaches, methods, and resources appeal to different ways of learning. (See Best Practices for Supporting Learners with Diverse Learning Needs)
  • The curriculum reflects (UDL) principles, providing multiple means of engagement, representation, and expression. (See Best Practices for Supporting Learners with Diverse Learning Needs)
  • Online courses follow established principles for instructional design and course quality; they are well structured, accessible, and appealing. (See Best Practices for Technology and Online Learning)
  • Flexibility is built into the curriculum, allowing instructors to adapt the content, approaches, methods, activities, and tasks to the needs and interests of the learners in each class.
(b) In settings where curriculum is not prescribed ahead of time but emerges with participation and input from learners (e.g., many workplace EAL programs, ESL literacy programs, and LINC programs), instructors are supported with the time and resources needed for ongoing curriculum development, and learners participate in meaningful ways.
  • Instructors are provided with lead time to understand the context, make initial plans, and curate potential content prior to teaching.
  • In the initial stages of the class, instructors and learners work together to identify learning needs, outcomes/objectives, key themes, and tasks.
  • Learners participate in curricular choices in an ongoing fashion; input from learners generates changes in class trajectory and content.
  • Learners participate in evaluating the curriculum and progress of the class.
38. The curriculum is inclusive; it reflects the mission and values of the program, current principles of adult language learning and teaching, and best practices in TESL methodology.1
  • The curriculum is appropriate for the mission of the program and is clearly linked to program goals.
  • The curriculum is spiraled rather than linear, both within particular course offerings and across levels (i.e., what is taught at one time or at one level is reviewed and reinforced at different times or levels).
  • The curriculum reflects the needs, interests, and prior knowledge and experience of adult
  • The curriculum specifies what the learners need to be able to do with language (i.e., it is competency based).
  • The curriculum specifies authentic, communicative tasks:2
    • Tasks are authentic (i.e., they reflect the present/future real-world needs of the learners).
    • Tasks integrate language skills (listening, speaking, reading, writing).
    • The language necessary for the successful completion of tasks is supported (skills, content).
  • The curriculum is inclusive and fosters respect for other ways of being, appreciation for diversity, empathy, critical reflection, inquiry, analysis, and advocacy.
    • The curriculum honors and recognizes Indigenous peoples’ history and heritage, supporting the call for truth and reconciliation with Canada’s Indigenous peoples. (See Best Practices for Indigenization)
    • Materials reflect the breadth of learner experience and identity. (See Best Practices for Anti-Racism, 2SLGBTQ+ Inclusion, and Supporting Learners with Diverse Learning Needs)
    • The curriculum provides a window into multiple perspectives and fosters respect, empathy, and appreciation for other ways of being.
    • The curriculum goes beyond traditional pedagogical approaches; it includes pedagogies that challenge dominant worldviews and prioritize communal learning, learner voices, reflection, critical conversations, inquiry, advocacy, etc. (See Best Practices for Indigenization and Anti-Racism)
39. Curriculum development and renewal is responsive to learner needs, and is based on input from the learner population as well as from community, educational, and/or workplace stakeholders.3
  • Curriculum development and renewal considers the following input from the learner population:
    • Present and future needs and goals of the current learner population (as individuals, and as members of families, communities, and workplaces)
    • Learner feedback
    • Course evaluations
    • Follow-up feedback with graduates of the program
    • Learner success rates
  • Curriculum development and renewal considers the changing needs of learners and their communities through input from a selection of the following:
    • Feedback from instructors, administrators, and other stakeholders (e.g., employment coaches, mentors)
    • Enrolment patterns
    • Professional associations
    • Social service agencies
    • Cultural/religious organizations
    • Educational institutions that receive graduates of the program
    • Workplace needs assessments (with feedback from co-workers, supervisors, or employers)
    • Essential Skills profiles
    • Labour market trends
    • Immigration trends and needs
    • Current research and practices
    • Other
  • There is a transparent connection between the curriculum and the present/future needs and goals of the learners, as demonstrated by a selection of the following:
    • Curriculum goals and objectives reflect the present and future needs/goals of the learner population.
    • Following the principles of , assessments are directly connected to the learning outcomes and objectives (addressing the question, “How will I know the outcome has been achieved?”).
    • Specified approaches and methods are demonstrably appropriate for the learner population.
    • Specified tasks are authentic and reflect the present or future needs of the learners.
    • Depending on the goals of the learner population, the curriculum prepares learners for success in post-secondary classes, in the workplace, and/or in the community.
    • The curriculum is sensitive to the cultural and religious norms of the learners.
    • The curriculum includes local content.
    • inform curriculum development and materials selection/development to ensure a transparent connection between the curriculum and the present and future workplace needs of the learners.
40. The program ensures regular review and renewal of the curriculum and supporting materials.
  • Curriculum renewal is informed by any of the following:
    • The needs/interests of the learner population
    • Current research in adult second language acquisition and teaching
    • Professional development4
  • The program has a plan for regular curriculum review.
  • The program supports regular meetings of instructors/coordinators/supervisors to review curriculum, materials, and textbooks.
  • Instructors/staff are encouraged to contribute and share new materials that support the curriculum.
  • Specified persons are given the responsibility and time to update curriculum, materials, and textbooks.
  • The program secures funding for curriculum development and renewal.

1 Informed by TESOL (2003), Standard 2B.

2 Ellis (2008) p. 818; Nunan (2004); Manitoba (2009); CCLB (2012, October).

3 See TESOL (2003), Standard 2A.

4 Those involved in curriculum development (instructors, curriculum developers) should be accessing ongoing professional development that reflects current research and meets the needs/mandate of the program and learner population (see Best Practice #25). They should be encouraged to incorporate what is learned in the curricula they develop (see Best Practice #26). For instance, curriculum developers may attend training on the use of Skills for Success/Essential Skills and may then incorporate the Skills for Success into a curriculum they are developing.

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ATESL Best Practices for Adult EAL and LINC Programming in Alberta by Alberta Teachers of English as a Second Language (ATESL) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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