How much CBI is there in "Bridges"?
What is CBI (Content Based Instructions)?
It is an approach to teach a language in terms of topics or themes. In other words, the CBI lesson puts emphasis on topics rather than the language items and parts of speech. It deals with a subject through which the target language is used.
Is "Bridges" a C.B.I - based syllabus?
Nobody can easily say whether the text book assigned to (2ème BAC. Sciences) is an E.S.P syllabus or a content based one. It may be both but in general it is neither. A quick glance at the content of the text-book will certainly impress you with the quantity of hard material used in it. It deals with almost all scientific and non-scientific issues. Its language is hard to teach and consequently harder to learn. It is an amalgamation of diverse scientific topics challenging both teachers and students. The problem comes from its stern and very specialized material which goes from the most universal to the most particular.
These lessons can be classified into categories as follows:
- Medicine Topics:
- Drugs and medicines
- Honey laboratory-Analysis
- Other Scientific Topics:
- Space Exploration
- Mass Media:
- Advertising and TV commercials.
- Technological Inventions
- General Topics:
- Human Rights
These are in general the themes through which the students are supposed to learn English (A third foreign language) Nevertheless; these students have only got a weak knowledge of it. I bet you are going to get amazed about how things will carry on in a classroom where no audio-visual appliances are available. It is not easy for teachers to teach themes like these while they have only got a piece of chalk and a blackboard. More than that, the students are not that interested as to do more research beyond the text-book? These topics are not really inspiring and motivating for them because the students say they are not yet, agronomists, dentists, economists, toxicologists or chemists to focus their attention on themes as such seriously. They prefer topics which fit their age not their careers. The amount of English they have owned throughout the two previous years is very poor in comparison with what they are expected to achieve. They were used to communicative topics such as talking about oneself, one's house, family, neighbourhood, a picnic, shopping and so on.
Is it to be mourned?!
This text-book is entitled "Bridges" whereas it has nothing of a bridge. It needs a bridge itself. The missing bridge is one of the major factors making the program indigestible for both teachers and students. If it happens that you asked any of the two: teachers or students, the general reaction is a sort of delight that these "bridges" are to be blown down but with some degree of regret. The new syllabus, we hope, will be content-based in the proper sense of the word. I mean that the content should be first and principally learner-based. Generations of students quickly shift in interest. The topics the students liked only a few years ago are not motivating for this generation. This should be taken into account and should be obviously dealt with seriously in terms of a sort of questionnaire. The students' suggestions and proposals will help a lot in this project, I'm sure.
There is not really much to say about this program except that it is not well done though it has got various outstanding facets. There are things that we'll miss, but not to the extent to mourn them. They can be reborn in a new fashionable shape that will allow us all to deal with them appropriately. This is important because "functions", for instance, are among the serious things we will surely miss in this curriculum unless they are restated in an up-to-date content. In addition to that, tutorials like "Letters to the editor" and "letters of application" are to be conserved as well as "the scientific problem-solving", but in a more stimulating way for the students.
All in all, the text-book "Bridges" is not all bad but it is not well-done at all. It only needs to be dealt with in a new perspective. The students' viewpoints count much in this context and they could be the onset of a successful initiation of a new syllabus. The content should come first like but this content itself should be directed to answer the students' needs, interests and ... "the labor-market needs" (why not?). In a word this syllabus can reborn from its ashes ... like a Phoenix!