ESTABLISHING ENGLISH COMPETENCIES FOR STUDENTS OF TOURISM DEPARTMENT UNIVERSITY OF MATARAM:

A Proposal

 

By:

Drs. I Made Sujana, M.A.

UPT Pusat Bahasa UNRAM

Jalan Pendidikan 37 Mataram 83125 LOMBOK NTB

Phone 0370 622503; e-mail:PUBAH@mataram.wasantara.net.id

 

 

The purpose of learning English in ESP contexts is to achieve the certain English proficiency level for a situation where the language is going to be used (target needs). For students of Tourism Department, the target needs of leaning English have been well-defined since they have had definite job markets. Thus, in designing curriculum for this target audience, these target needs must further be translated into descriptions of competencies needed in the tourism area so that the students are capable of performing the language needed in the target situation. This article will bring about the application of competency-based approach in designing second language syllabus/curriculum. There are two points to be discussed: (1) general descriptions of competency-based approach in designing second/foreign language curriculum; and (2) a proposal in establising English competencies in ESP contexts with reference to English competencies needed by students of Tourism Department (University of Mataram)

 

Keywords: English proficiency, competency, competency-based curriculum, tourism, syllabus. 

 

 

A.    INTRODUCTION

Preparing school-leavers to enter workplaces or apprenticeship becomes main concerns in education and training programs. Training institutions compete to promote that the training they run produces school-leavers ready to enter  workplaces or apprenticeship by specifying competencies needed in a particular workplace. In addition, to promote programs for prospective students, the institutions include competencies they will impart their students in their syllabus design. It seems the inclusion of competencies needed in workplaces becomes the selling points in designing curriculum/syllabus. Thus, competency-based approaches in curriculum design are preferable in current language training; let alone in designing curriculum/syllabus in ESP contexts whose purpose of learning English is to impart language specific needed in a particular workplace.

      The competency-based approaches (CBAs) have long been adopted in vocational and professional areas. The adoption of these approaches is generated by two developmental lines: educational and economic. In the educational developmental line, the application of CBAs is based on the idea of fulfilling learners' needs in curriculum design and of applying criterion-Reference Testing (CRT) in language evaluation. In economic developmental line, their application is generated by how to "sell" curriculum or programs by the inclusion of competencies needed in a particular workplace and by the idea of how to learn language function in efficient and effective way.

      In designing English syllabus in Tourism area, a course designer should consider the developmental lines mentioned above. The adoption of CBAs in designing English curriculum is urgently needed in this area. This paper will further discuss the Competency-Based Approaches in syllabus design with reference to English for Tourism. First, it will discuss competency-based approaches in designing syllabus for ESP context and second, a proposal for finding out competencies needed in Tourism area with reference to competencies needed by students of Tourism Department (the University of Mataram).

 

B.     COMPETENCY-BASED APPROACH IN SYLLABUS DESIGN

Hagan (1994) defines competency-based training as an approach to vocational education and training which focuses on outcomes or what a learner can do at the end of a course of study. This approach differs from previous approaches which focused on time spent in training and teacher input. The evolution of competency-based appraches can be traced along two main developmental lines: educational and economic (Docking, 1994).  In the educational line, the application of CBAs is based on the importance of considering learner's needs in designing English curriculum/syllabus and on the movement in testing procedures, especially dealing with the application of Criterion-Referenced Testing (CRT). 

Considering the learner's needs to learn English is the central issue in designing syllabus in an ESP context. According to Hutchinson & Waters (1993), the learner's needs can be interpreted into several categories: needs as necessities (i.e. the demand of the target situations -- where the language to be used), needs as lacks (i.e. what knowledge the learner has already known in order to master the language functions needed in the target situation), and needs as wants (i.e. what the learner would like to gain from the language training (personal aims)). In establishing the competencies needed in certain workplace, the needs as necessities (i.e. what the learner has to know in order to function effectively in the target (real) situation) must be used as the starting point in curriculum design in order to know what learners need to acquire at the end of the course. This can be achieved by tracing the responsibilities or duties or job description of the professional workers in the real situation (see the following section for steps in estabhishing competencies).

      The second idea generating the application of the CBAs in the educational developmental line is the movement in testing procedures, especially dealing with the application of criterion-referenced testing (CRT). The CRT is usually produced to measure well-defined and fairly specific objectives (Brown, 1996). The purpose of the CRT is to measure the amount of learning that a learner has established on each objective. In other words, the CRT is objective-based language points. The interpretation of results in a CRT is considered absolute in the sense that each student's result is meaningful without reference to the other learner's results. In addition, using CRT allows for variety of assessment forms such as role play and unstructured obeservation. It also allows for modular and self paced learning, emphasises flexibility to meet individual learner needs and recognises prior learning or current competencies in relation to training (Hagan, 1994). Applying the CRT in language teaching will force the learner to achieve the established objectives; the objectives of which are taken from the aspects of language needed in the target situation where the language is going to be used.

      In the economic developmental line, the CBAs are adopted to give added value (selling point) to the trainees (graduates) in the job market. Trainees graduated from institutions having well-defined and explicit competencies in their course description will have more chances to be considered to get job. Besides, the establishment of competencies will make the training program more effective and efficient. It is in line with Hutchinson and Waters' (1993) claim that time and money constraints created a need for cost-effective courses with clearly defined goals.

      Regarding the influence of CBAs in today's educational and employment contexts, Docking (1994) comments that in education context, the competencies (learning outcomes) underpin curriculum design, teaching strategies, assessment, reporting, acreditation, program evaluation, and certification. In empoyment/economic context, on the other hand, the CBAs are being adopted as the basis of work design, industrial awards, recruitment and selection, performance appraisal, training need analysis and trainng design, etc. Furthermore Docking suggests that it is important to consider the application of CBAs in training programs since the CBAs can be:

Ø      a means of promoting or rewarding excellence, by writing competencies that demand sophisticated and high level performance.

Ø      a means of justifying certification decisions, not on a normative basis but based on real standard.

Ø      a means of ensuring consistency in standards between lecturers across time, across campuses and between internal and external modes of delivery;

Ø      a means of raising standards to meet competency profile requirements and not just pass marks;

Ø      a means of ensuring the credibility and continued resourcing of education and training providers;

Ø      a means of avoiding cultural bias and facilitating equity.

Ø      a means of meeting the need for flexibility and diversity and consistent comparable standards;

Ø      a means of interfacing and integrating different forms of learning and including different education and training sectors, and different levels of education;

Ø      a means of communicating curriculum expectations to students and colleagues and providing a shared language of outcomes for education, training and works;

Ø      a means of empowering learners to take more responsibility for their learning, to increase their options, and to take advantageof oppurtunities for learning as they arise.

 

 

C.    ESTABLISHING ENGLISH COMPETENCY IN ESP CONTEXT: TOURISM

It is claimed that any decision made in designing language teaching programs in ESP contexts must be based on the learners' reasons (learners' needs) for learning English (Strevens, 1998; Robinson, 1991; Dudley-Evans & St. John, 1998). However, knowing learners's needs is not a simple task due to the multi-interpretations of the needs. Needs can be interpreted into  necessities, wants, and lacks (Hutchinson and Waters, 1993). Necessities (target needs) deal with the demand of the target situations (i.e. what the learner needs to know in order to function effectively in the target situation). Lacks refer to the learner's existing language proficiency in order to help determination of the starting point of the teaching and learning process. Wants relate to what the learner would like to gain from the language course (personal aims). In addition, Dudley-Evans & St. John (1998) see needs from various points of view such as from personal information about learners, language information about target situation, professional information about learners, how to communicate in the target situation, language learning needs, learner's needs from the course, learner's lack, and environmental situation. However, both Hutchinson & Waters and Dudley-Evans & St. John agree that the main purposes of doing needs analysis are first to find out language needs in the target situation (i.e. what the learner needs to know in order to function effectively in the target situation) and second to forlumate the learning needs (i.e. how to achieve the target needs in teaching and learning process). (In Dudley-Evans & St. John's terms, they are called Target Situation Analysis (TSA) and Learning Situation Analysis (LSA)).

In establishing English competencies needed in a particular workplace, a course designer can start from target needs (TSA) by analysing responsibilities/duties/tasks of professional workers in the target situation where the language is going to be used. The responsibilities are then translated into competencies (skills and subskills) needed in workplaces in order to be able to master the language needed in the particular workplace. The following are suggested steps in finding out English competencies needed in a particular workplace.

 

Identification of Target Group

Identification of Duties of Professional Workers

Assessment of Communicative Needs

Translation of Needs into Competencies

Translation of Competencies into linguistic and other specifications

Teaching/Learning Activities to develop competencies

 

The process of analysis starts from the identification of learners of the language teaching program. The target group in this step can be categorized into two groups: the identification of leraners who want to study the language in terms of personal, socioculture, education, expectation, interest, real language needs, etc.; and the identification of professional workers in the target situation, who have used the language in the target situation. The identification of responsibilities of professional workers of the target situation will be a useful guideline in the next steps in designing syllabus since the responsibilities of the professional workers in the target situation are used as a basis in course design. In this steps, it is necessary to (a) study in-depth each of the situatons in which they would need to use English; (b) clarify the learners' communicative purposes by analysing the activities and roles they would be performing in English; and (c) determine the level of performance they expected to attain. From the responsibilities of the professional workers, the communicative needs can further be elaborated in order to find out the focus of language skills needed in the particular workplace. The following step is the translation of the communicative into language competencies that need to be developed in in order to be able to do the job professionally in the target situations. The language competencies are then translated into teaching materials from functional and structural point of view and strategies to master the language competencies.

Referring to the main purposes of doing need analysis mentioned in previous section, steps 1 - 4 aim at finding out the target needs (what learners needs to do in the target situataions) while steps 5 and 6 aim at finding out learning needs (what learners need to do in class in order to master the language needed in the target situataions).

The following are a summary and a sample of how these steps work with reference to English for Tourism for Front Office Department (the analysis of complete analysis of competencies needed by students of Tourism Department is in progress).


 

 

NO.

STEPS

DESCRITIONS

EXAMPLES

1.        

Identification of Target Group

Who are the participants of the course we design?

Front Office (FO) receptionist

2.        

Identification of Duties of Professional Workers

What are responsibilities of the professional workers in the target situation (in terms of the use of language)?

Responsibilities of FO

1.       Welcoming and registering guests

2.       Helping guests with queries and problems

3.       Answering the telephone in a quick and efficient manner

4.       Taking reservations, cancellations, and revision.

5.       Receiving and distributing telexes and facsimiles.

6.       etc.

3.        

Assessment of Communicative Needs

What kinds of communicative needs do professional workers need to be able to do the responsibilities?

In order to be able to do these responsibilities the FO receptionist must have language ability on:

1.       how to welcome and register guests appropriately.

2.       how to help guests with queries and problems clearly

3.       how to answer the telephone quickly and efficiently.

4.       how to take reservations, cancellations, and revision correctly.

5.       how to read letters, fax and the like in effective and efficient way.

6.       etc.

4.        

Translation of Communicative Needs into English Competencies

What English competencies do they need to have in order to be able to function effectively?

One communicative needs can be translated into several English competencies:

1.       how to welcome and register guests appropriately.

·         can use greeting and leave-taking

·         can enquiry guests' identity

·         can check room availability

·         can turn away people without reservation when hotel is full.

·         etc.

 

2.       how to help guests with queries and problems clearly

·         can deal with enquiries about hotel facilties, local places and local events, transportation

·         can deal with minor complaints.

·         can take verbal mssages and pass them in oral and spoken form

·         etc.

 

3.       how to answer the telephone quickly and efficiently.

·         can deal with telephone enquiries

·         can can take messages and pass them to guests

 

4.       how to take reservations, cancellations, and revision correctly.

·         can take with reservation, cancellation, and revision orally

·         can read and pass letters and faxes to Advance Reservation

 

5.       how to read letters, fax and the like in effective and efficient way.

 

5.        

Translation of English Competencies into linguistic and other specification

What language input should be included in the syllabus in order to achieve the language needed in the target situation?

To find out the learning needs (language input for class activities), the competencies can further be translated into detailed linguistic and other specifications. For examples:

Ø       can use greeting and leave-taking

·         expressions for greeting and leave-taking; selecting correct form of address; etc.

 

Ø       can enquiry guests' identity

·         questions (yes/no and informative questions/ direct and indirect questions); spelling; numbers, etc.

The results of the analysis will form teaching materials (learning needs), whixh can be in the form of language skills (speaking, listening, reading and writing) and supporting skills (grammar, vocabulary, etc.)

6.        

Teaching and Learning activities to develop competencies

How to impart the language input in teaching and learning process?

From the materials listed above, it can then selected appropriate strategies to impart the language input. The strategies and methods must be adjusted with the materials. Therefore, in the teaching and learning process more than one method should be applied depending on the focus.

 

 


 

D.    CONCLUDING REMARKS

 

The CBAs are preferrable in current language teaching since they have a number of advantages such as fulfilling learners' needs (especially learners' target needs (necessities)), applying obejective-based learning (with the application of criterion reference assessment), learning in effective and efficient ways since objectives and materials based on learners' need, having good selling point because well-defined objetectives in course descriptions.

            In tracing English competencies for a particular target group, a course designer can start by analysing responsibilities of professional workers in the particular target situation. These responsibilities are then translated into communicative needs and English competencies. These competencies are then translated into learning needs.

 

 

REFERENCE

 

Brindley, G., 1989. "The Role of Needs Analysis in Adult ESL Program Design." in R.K. Johnson (ed). The Second Language Curriculum. Cambridge: CUP. pp. 63-78.

Crook, Tonny, 1991. “A Skill-Bases Approach to Language Need Analysis for Hotel Personnel – A Case Study.” A Paper presented at TEFLIN Seminar 37 at FKIP Unram Mataram Lombok.

Dubin, F. & E. Olshtain, 1988. Course Design: Developing programs and materials for language learning. Cambridge: CUP

Dudley-Evans, Tony and Maggie Joe St John, 1998. Developments in English for Specific Purpose. Cambridge: CUP.

Harvey, Annamaria, 1984. “Designing an ESP Course: A Case Study” dalam English Teaching Forum. Vol. XXII, No. 1, January.

Hutchinson and Walters. 1993. English for Specific Purpose. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Krahnke, Karl, 1987. Approaches to Syllabus Design for Foreign Language Teaching. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall Regents.

Nunan, D. 1990. The Learner-Centered Curriculum. Cambridge : CUP

Robinson, Pauline C. 1991.  ESP Today: A practitioner's  Guide. New York. Prentice Hall.

Sheerin, S., 1991. Self Access. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Strevens, P., 1988. “ESP after 20 Years” dalam Tickoo, ML. (ed.)  ESP: State of Art. Anthology Series 21. Singapore : RELC

Sukarno, 1991. “Teaching English at Non-English Department”. A Paper presented at TEFLIN Seminar 37 at FKIP Unram Mataram Lombok.

Wimmer, Roger D. & Joseph R. Dominick. 1991. Mass Media Research: An itroduction. California : Wadsworth Inc.

Brindley, G., 1989. "The Role of Needs Analysis in Adult ESL Program Design." in R.K. Johnson (ed). The Second Language Curriculum. Cambridge: CUP. pp. 63-78.

Crook, Tonny, 1991. “A Skill-Bases Approach to Language Need Analysis for Hotel Personnel – A Case Study.” A Paper presented at TEFLIN Seminar 37 at FKIP Unram Mataram Lombok.

Dubin, F. & E. Olshtain, 1988. Course Design: Developing programs and materials for language learning. Cambridge: CUP

Dudley-Evans, Tony and Maggie Joe St John, 1998. Developments in English for Specific Purpose. Cambridge: CUP.

Harvey, Annamaria, 1984. “Designing an ESP Course: A Case Study” dalam English Teaching Forum. Vol. XXII, No. 1, January.

Hutchinson and Walters. 1993. English for Specific Purpose. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Krahnke, Karl, 1987. Approaches to Syllabus Design for Foreign Language Teaching. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall Regents.

Nunan, D. 1990. The Learner-Centered Curriculum. Cambridge : CUP

Robinson, Pauline C. 1991.  ESP Today: A practitioner's  Guide. New York. Prentice Hall.

Sheerin, S., 1991. Self Access. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Strevens, P., 1988. “ESP after 20 Years” dalam Tickoo, ML. (ed.) ESP: State of Art. Anthology Series 21. Singapore : RELC

Sukarno, 1991. “Teaching English at Non-English Department”. A Paper presented at TEFLIN Seminar 37 at FKIP Unram Mataram Lombok.

Wimmer, Roger D. & Joseph R. Dominick. 1991. Mass Media Research: An itroduction.

Brown, J.D., 1996. Testing in Language Programs. New Jersey: Prentice Hall Regents.

Docking, R., 1994. "Competency-Based Curricula: A Literature Review", Prospect: A Journal of Australian TESOL. Vol. 9, No. 2, pp.8-17.

Hagan, P., 1994. "Competency-Based Curriculum: The NWS AMES Experience", Prospect: A Journal of Australian TESOL. Vol. 9, No. 2, pp. 30 - 40.

 

 

 

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