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Syllabus and material design in English language teaching (MGL3038)

Textbooks are a useful tool and a guidebook for both teachers and students during a language course. However, due simply to its form, a textbook tends to incorporate activities that are repetitive, aimed at one particular level of students with little room for differentiation and catering for individual needs. It is therefore a teacher’s responsibility to provide additional material and use it so that all students benefit from it and use it to their fullest potential.

The guidelines set by the curriculum need to be operationalized through concrete practices and techniques within the language course. The choice and design of material provides the content, while the organization of that material and monitoring of the learners’ progress provides a structured context where learners work towards the competence aims. It is important to understand different approaches to syllabus design and beliefs about language teaching and learning in order to plan meaningful, age- and proficiency-appropriate semester and yearly plans.

Course description for study year 2022-2023. Please note that changes may occur.

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The course is roughly divided into two modules. In the first one, Students will get to know and discuss different types of syllabi and their purpose. They will work on the half-yearly plans and syllabi based on the national curriculum core competencies and competence aims. They will look into the influence of Second Language Acquisition theory and educational, social, cultural, economic and political factors on the syllabus creation and consider these factors when writing and adapting designs for groups of learners in a range of contexts.

In the second section, students will continue working with LK20 requirements as the basis. They will evaluate material based on the theory and research in material development. Students will address the opportunities that authentic material (podcasts, video, realia, etc.) provides and how best to apply it to different learner needs. Building on their knowledge form previous English language courses (MI theories, affective learner characteristics, language learning theories, etc.), students will develop material to include integrated skills and different communication modes. Finally, they will work with scaffolding and differentiation in material design.

Learning outcome
  • General competence - by the end of the course the students will be able to
    • read and discuss syllabus and material development research;
    • make decisions based on research and good practice;
    • reflect on the significance of different syllabus and teaching material types;
    • explain, discuss and analyse benefits and drawbacks of different teaching material, including digital resources;
    • reflect on, discuss, and evaluate peer-created activities sharing constructive feedback
    • communicate confidently and professionally using academic English both orally and in writing;
    • apply their knowledge of theory and research in teaching material and syllabus development  in the field to English language teaching and in their own teaching practice and research.


  • Knowledge - by the end of the course, the students will have gained knowledge of
    • theories and research about material development;
    • different types of syllabus development;
    • strategies employed in material development and adaptation;
    • appropriate criteria and procedures for evaluating material;
    • the ways in which the learner age affects the choice and application of the material;
    • the role of different types of material in English language teaching;
    • appropriate methods and materials which support language learning.


  • Skills - by the end of the course, the students will be able to
    • assess critically different types of syllabus;
    • develop independently semester and yearly plans taking into consideration the language needs of the learners; 
    • develop a syllabus according to the national curriculum aims;
    • do independent classroom research on material development;
    • design activities that follow the curriculum demands, including digital resources;
    • adapt authentic material to suit pupils’ needs;
    • match material and assessment;
    • incorporate differentiation into material; 
    • use the material so that it works on integrated skills.
Required prerequisite knowledge
MGL1032 English Linguistics for Teachers for grades 1.-7., MGL1033 English 1 - Teaching Methodology for Young Learners (1-7), MGL1034 English 2; English Teaching Methodology for Young Learners (1.-7.), MGL1035 English 2: English Language, Literature and Culture (1-7), MGL3036 Critical literacies pedagogy in the EFL classroom
  • have reached the CEFR C1 level in English in reading, writing, speaking and listening
  • have passed the following courses: MGL1032, MGL1033, MGL1034, MGL1035 or an IKS equivalent
  • have taken MGL3036 or an IKS equivalent

Take-home exam and Oral presentation

Form of assessment Weight Duration Marks Aid
Take-home exam 3/5 3 Weeks Letter grades
Oral presentation 2/5 15 Minutes Letter grades

Both parts must be passed to get a final grade. 

Coursework requirements
3 individual hand-in assignments, 1 pair hand-in assignment, Minimum of 70% attendance
The obligatory assignments are designed so as to build one onto another and lead the students towards their final project.
  • 3 individual hand-in assignments: analysis of material for its usefulness, practicality, applicability (complete / incomplete, 500 words +/-10% each, submitted in Canvas)  
  • 1 pair hand-in assignment: mid-term mini project (complete / incomplete, 1000 words +/-10%, submitted in Canvas);
  •  a minimum of 70% attendance;
Course teacher(s)
Course coordinator: Nina Lazarevic
Study Program Director: Ingeborg Knævelsrud
Programme coordinator: Karen Elizabeth Gilje Woie
Open for
Primary and Lower Secondary Teacher Education for Years 1 - 7, Master
The syllabus can be found in Leganto