A course outline plays a critical educational role in every university. It
is the primary vehicle for course planning. When a course is revised or updated, it is the course outline that records the
changes. As such, it forms the basis for a contract among the student, instructor, and institution identifying the expectations
which will serve as the basis of the student's grade and giving the fundamental required components of the course which the
student is guaranteed to receive from the instructor and institution.
More than just specifying the required components of the course, the outline states the content and level of rigor
for which students—across all sections of the course—will be held accountable. Courses are designed to provide
a coherent body of knowledge to prepare students in a particular subject. The prerequisites students need to advance successfully
through a series of such courses are based on information in the outline of record.
Maintaining academic standards means providing consistent, quality instruction in the classroom. As some courses are
taught by various instructors, both full- and part-time, it is by reviewing the course outline that they may clearly identify
the standards and content of the course they are to teach. In addition, the course outline plays a critical role in the on-going
process of program review by which a college seeks to keep its curriculum relevant and to allocate its resources sufficiently
to maintain its programs. When new programs are designed, it is through the selection of courses and construction of new course
outlines that the program design is evaluated for its ability to meet the newly-identified needs of students.
In most of my adult classes
I use the method of Content Based Instruction (CBI) that emphasizes learning about something (learning English through knowledge)
rather than learning about language. It is an effective method of combining language and content learning. My experience showed that theme based CBI works well in ESL contexts, and I believe its use will
increase in the future as teachers continue to design new syllabi in response to student needs and interests. Teachers can
use almost any content materials that they feel their students will enjoy. What can be better than seeing our students create
something and learn language at the same time? For this purpose, I develop course outlines which reflect linguistic and lingo-pragmatic
realities of language and language use in particular fields. Such course outlines provide a clear and coherent focus and structure
for both teachers and learners.