Constructing a Curriculum

by Helene J. Uchida

Beginning teachers often wonder how they will be able to develop a curriculum for their upcoming classes. Somehow the word “curriculum” emits a sense of scholarly expertise that novices fear would be beyond their know-how, but this is really a misconception. A curriculum is nothing to fear. It is a yearly plan which should provide for the continuous progress of the students toward understanding, speaking, reading, writing and experiencing the target language. It is the base, the framework, upon which lessons will grow. But best of all, it is a tool to help the teacher become a better teacher.

Writing a curriculum is like writing an outline. Most teachers organize their yearly curriculum according to the month. Since the school year in Japan begins in April, your curriculum should start here. List the concepts that you want to teach for this month and divide your lessons into how many times the class meets that month, taking vacations into consideration. Do the same things for May and the following months until you reach March of the next year. Now look over all the concepts you have planned to cover. Are they organized in order of difficulty? If they are not, then rearrange them so they are. Are these concepts student-centered? They should be. They should center on the child so that he/she can identify things about him/herself, such as name, age, birthday, school, grade, favorite color, favorite sport, etc. Concepts should also focus on how each child classifies his/her own immediate world. For example, young learners have an interest in naming the alphabet letters, numbers, colors, animals, body parts, fruits, vehicles, food, etc.

Teachers who use a children’s text can base their curriculum on the contents of the text, using the suggestions listed above. After all, the text’s author is a professional at understanding and sequencing learning concepts for children. Feel free to lean on the text for curriculum support.

I would strongly suggest that you keep notes on your monthly outline. Then at the end of the year, you can revise your curriculum based on your notes. The second year you can use the revised curriculum as abase for new classes, and it can be expanded from for continuing classes. It gets easier each year. Both you and your classes get better with age and experience!