A syllabus is an expression of opinion on the nature of language and learning; it acts as a guide for both teacher and learner by providing some goals to be attained. Hutchinson and Waters (1987:80) define syllabus as follows:
At its simplest level a syllabus can be described as a statement of what is to be learnt. It reflects language and linguistic performance.
This is a rather traditional interpretation of syllabus focusing on outcomes rather than process. However, a syllabus can also be seen as a “summary of the content to which learners will be exposed” (Yalden.1987). It is seen as an approximation of what will be taught and that it cannot accurately predict what will be learnt
A language teaching syllabus involves the integration of subject matter and linguistic matter.
Difference between Syllabus and Curriculum
Curriculum is wider term as compared with syllabus. Curriculum covers all the activities and arrangements made by the institution through out the academic year to facilitate the learners and the instructors. Where as Syllabus is limited to particular subject of a particular class.
To design a syllabus is to decide what gets taught and in what order. For this reason, the theory of language underlying the language teaching method will play a major role in determining what syllabus should be adopted. Theory of learning also plays an important part in determining the kind of syllabus used. For example, a syllabus based on the theory of learning evolved by cognitive code teaching would emphasize language forms and whatever explicit descriptive knowledge about those forms. A syllabus based on an acquisition theory of learning, however, would emphasize unanalyzed and carefully selected experiences of the new language.
The choice of a syllabus is a major decision in language teaching, and it should be made as consciously and with as much information as possible. There has been much confusion over the years as to what different types of content are possible in language teaching syllabi and as to whether the differences are in syllabus or method. Several distinct types of language teaching syllabi exist, and these different types may be implemented in various teaching situations.