I get asked this question a few times every year. My answer is always the same, “We don’t have one”. It’s true, we don’t have one. We have the Curriculum Guidelines, a badly named book that provides class activities of varying quality for different CLB levels. We also have CLB criteria for assessments, and, of course, PBLA, another assessment tool, but nothing to tell us how to achieve these outcomes such as what grammar to teach or what pronunciation to focus on at specific levels. That would be really helpful, especially if you are a new teacher or switching levels.
Even more annoying is that the Center for Canadian Language Benchmarks says, “Portfolio-Based Language Assessment (PBLA) is a teaching and assessment model designed to enhance nationwide consistency and standards of quality in English as a Second Language…” How can a series of tests that we are all creating individually standardize the material being taught? It is the role of a curriculum to provide a systematic structure. It would mean that Susan in BC is introducing gerunds in Level 3 and so is Mahdi in Ontario. Talk about the tail wagging the dog.
Why didn’t the government spend money on a curriculum first rather than PBLA? We could implement the ‘how’, then later follow up with tests to see how effective it was. Does it make sense to start at the finish line and work your way back?
In order to create a curriculum, they would have had to hire a few professors, knowledgeable in communicative theory, and invite some teachers and students to participate. It would have been something that really added value to our classrooms and established a degree of standardization that the government says it wants. I can’t say for sure, but I also suspect it would have been a lot cheaper than PBLA, not to mention gratefully received.
It’s all very mysterious. How can people involved in education miss the curriculum? It’s like when my mother stopped to ask for directions. The man she spoke to offered to show her the way as he was going there himself. He turned left and then right, weaving in and out of the numerous side streets with my mother’s car following closely behind. Finally, about ten minutes in, he stopped his vehicle and got out. She rolled down her window and he said to her curtly, “I don’t know where it is!” He marched back to his car without so much as an “I’m sorry”, and drove away.
We are like my mother, stuck in the neighbourhood, without a GPS, and only a blurry photograph of where we are supposed to go. No wonder so many of us are upset.
Center for Canadian Language Benchmarks. (2019). Retrieved from on PBLA: https://www.language.ca/resourcesexpertise/on-pbla/