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behavioural objectives


Subject Linguistics

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631214823.1999.x


stated in a syllabus or as the goals of a language course are best understood in contrast with linguistic objectives. The latter might take a form such as: ‘By the end of the third year, learners will have mastered the conditional in English.’ This would be an objective typical of the structural syllabus , in that it designates an aspect of the English linguistic system which learners must acquire. However, it does not specify how they might use knowledge of this part of the system, or, in other words, what (linguistic) behaviours it will facilitate. A behavioural objective, on the other hand, might be expressed as follows: ‘By the end of the third year, learners will be able to participate in debates on non-technical subjects, evaluating the arguments of others, expressing an opinion on them in either approving or disapproving but tactful terms, and offering their own viewpoint articulately and persuasively.’ This now clarifies what they will (in theory) be able to do or how they will actually be able to behave through language as opposed to describing the systemic knowledge they will possess. A change of focus is therefore involved. This shift of focus is often associated with notional/functional syllabuses and the development of communicative methodology and english (or other languages) for specific purposes. The major theoretical precursor here was Hymes (1971), ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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