Disparity between Ideals and Reality in Curriculum Construction: The Case of the Lebanese English Language Curriculum


This paper describes the disparity between the principles, guidelines, suggested themes, organization, methodology, classroom activities, and assessment outlined in the thematic, content-based English language curriculum adopted by the Lebanese government in 1997 and the classroom realities and other contextual factors that have hampered its proper implementation. The paper shows that the curriculum is designed in line with international ESL/EFL standards as it has clear goals, objectives, and performance indicators as well as sound perspectives on instruction, material selection and adaptation, and evaluation guidelines. These perspectives are based on widely accepted theoretical views in language acquisition and best practices in English language education. However, the content-based curriculum normally demands a high level of language proficiency and content and pedagogical knowledge from teachers, and it is highly dependent on the availability of adequate resources and ongoing professional development programs. The educational context in Lebanon still suffers the effects of the 1975-1990 civil war in these areas, which has made the implementation fraught with all sorts of problems.

Share and Cite:

Shaaban, K. (2013) Disparity between Ideals and Reality in Curriculum Construction: The Case of the Lebanese English Language Curriculum. Creative Education, 4, 28-34. doi: 10.4236/ce.2013.412A2005.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Al-Jardani, K. S. (2012). English language curriculum evaluation in Oman. International Journal of English Linguistics, 2, 40-44.
[2] Asher, J. (2009). Learning another language through actions (7th ed.). Los Gatos, CA: Sky Oaks Productions.
[3] Bacha, N. N., & Bahous, R. (2011). Foreign language education in Lebanon: A context of cultural and curricular complexities. Journal of Language Teaching and Research, 2, 1320-1328.
[4] Bashshur, M. (2004). Higher education in the Arab states. Beirut: Unesco Regional Bureau for Education in the Arab States.
[5] Bell, J. (1999). Doing your research project (3rd ed.) Buckinghamshire: Open.
[6] Block, C. (1993) Teaching the language arts: Expanding thinking through student centered instruction. Boston: Allyn and Bacon
[7] Bradley, L. H. (1985). Curriculum leadership and development handbook. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
[8] Brandt, R. S. (Ed.). (1981). Applied strategies for curriculum evaluation. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
[9] Brinton, D. M., Snow, M. A., & Wesche, M. B. (1989). Content-based second language instruction. Boston: Heinle & Heinle Publishers.
[10] Carter, R. (1991) The national curriculum for English. London: The British Council.
[11] Cummins, J. (1979). Cognitive/academic language proficiency, linguistic interdependence, the optimum age question and some other matters. Working Papers on Bilingualism, 19, 121-129.
[12] Diab R. (2006). University students’ beliefs about learning English and French in Lebanon. System, 34, 80-96.
[13] Dixon, C. N., & Nessel, D. (l983). Language experience approach to reading (and writing). Hayward, CA: Alemany Press.
[14] Egbert J. (2006). Learning in context: Situating language teacher learning in CALL. In P. Hubbard,& M. Levy (Eds.), Teacher education in CALL (pp. 167-181). Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
[15] Eisner, E. W. (1979). The educational imagination: On the design and evaluation of school programs. New York: Macmillan.
[16] Esseili, F. (2011). English in Lebanon: Implications for national identity and language policy. Ed.D. Dissertation, Purdue University.
[17] Ghaith, G., & Shaaban, K. (1999). The prospects and problems of the new Lebanese English language curriculum. In F. Ayoub (Ed.), The new curricula in Lebanon: Evaluative review (pp. 351-364). Beirut: Lebanese Association for Educational Studies.
[18] Johnson D. W., & Johnson, R. T. (1989). Cooperation and competition: Theory and research. Edina, MN: Interaction Book Company.
[19] Kagan, S. (1992) Cooperative learning. San Juan Capistrano, CA: Resources for Teachers Inc.
[20] Krashen, S. D., & Terrell, T. D. (1983). The natural approach: Language acquisition in the classroom. New York: Pergamon Press.
[21] Kripendorff, K. (1980). Content analysis: An introduction to its methodology (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
[22] Lebanese Association for Educational Studies (LAES) (2002). The English as a first foreign language curriculum. In Evaluation of the new educational curricula in Lebanon: Assessing objectives, structure, and lesson distribution (pp. 272-307). Beirut: Author.
[23] Marsh, C. (2004). Key concepts in understanding curriculum (3rd ed.). London: Routledge Falmer.
[24] Nabhani, M., & Bahous, R. (2010), Lebanese teachers’ views on continuing professional development. Teacher Development, 14, 207224. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13664530.2010.494502
[25] Nasr, N. (2001). The use of poetry in TEFL: Literature in the new Lebanese curriculum. CAUCE, Revista de Filologia y su Didactica, 24, 345-363.
[26] NCERD (1995). New framework for education in Lebanon. Beirut: Author.
[27] NCERD (1994) Plan for educational reform. Beirut: Author.
[28] NCERD (1998). The English language curriculum. Beirut: Author.
[29] Nichols, B., Shidakar, G., & Singer, K. (2006). Managing curriculum and assessment: A practical guide. Ohio: Linworth Books.
[30] Orr, M. (2011). Learning to teach English as a foreign language in Lebanon. Near and Middle Eastern Journal of Education, 2, 1-14.
[31] Reid, D. (1999). Investigating teachers’ perceptions of the role of theory in initial teacher training through Q methodology. Mentoring and Tutoring, 7, 241-255. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1361126990070305
[32] Saba ‘Ayon, N. (2012). Lebanese English as a foreign language teachers’ conceptions of teaching and their practice in Lebanese public high schools. DPhil Thesis, University of Sussex.
[33] Shaaban, K. (1997). Bilingual education in Lebanon. In J. Cummins, & D. Carson (Eds.), Encyclopedia of education. Vol. V: Bilingual education (pp. 251-259). The Netherlands: Kluwer Publications.
[34] Shaaban, K. (2000). Assessment of young learners’ achievement in ESL classes in the Lebanon. Language, Culture and Curriculum, 13, 306317. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07908310008666606
[35] Shaaban, K. (2005). English language teaching in Lebanon: Challenges for the future. In G. Braine (Ed.), Teaching English to the world: History, curriculum and practice (pp. 103-113). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Incorporated.
[36] Shaaban, K., & Ghaith, G. (1997). An integrated approach to foreign language learning in Lebanon. Language, Culture and Curriculum, 10, 200-207. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07908319709525252
[37] Shaaban, K., & Ghaith, G. (1999). Lebanon’s language-in-education policies: From bilingualism to trilingualism. Language Problems and Language Planning, 23, 1-16.
[38] Shaaban, K., & Ghaith, G. M. (2005). The theoretical relevance and efficacy of using cooperative learning in the ESL/EFL classroom. TESL Reporter, 38, 14-28.
[39] Slavin, R. (1990). Cooperative learning: Theory, research, and practice. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
[40] TESOL (1997). ESL standards for pre-K-12 students. Alexandria, VA: Author.
[41] Van Ek, J. A. (1991) The threshold level for modern language learning in schools. Malaysia: Longman.
[42] Weir, C. (1993). Understanding and developing language tests. New York: Prentice Hall.
[43] Yaghi, R. (2012). Lebanon: A personal journey from professional development to GIS implementation in an English language classroom. In A. J. Milson, A. Demirci, & J. Kerski (Eds.), International perspectives on teaching and learning with GIS in secondary schools (pp. 151-156). New York: Springer.
[44] Zakharia Z. (2010). Language-in-education policies in contemporary Lebanon: Youth perspectives. In O. Abi-Mershed (Ed.), Trajectories of education in the Arab world: Legacies and challenges (pp. 156184). New York: Routledge.

Copyright © 2020 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.