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La programación del área de lenguas extranjeras: Unidades de programación. Criterios para la secuencia y temporalización de contenidos y objetivos. Selección de la metodología a emplear en las actividades de aprendizaje y evaluación.



Autora: Raquel Martín Tena. 



1. Introduction

3. Foreign language area planning: planning units.

    1. Spanish Educational System 
    2. Planning principles.
    1. Before the plan.
    1. Pre-plan.
    1. The plan.


3. Criteria for the sequence and timing of contents and objectives.

    1. The students.
    1. The procedure.
    1. The four skills, knowledge of the language and socio-cultural aspects.
    1. The nature of communication.


4. Methodology used in learning and assessment activities.

    1. Communicative competence.
    1. Learning activities.
    2. Assessment activities
    1. Correction.


5. Conclusion

6. Bibliography



1. Introduction

The best techniques and activities will not have much point if they are not, in some way integrated into a programme of studies. According to Harmer, the best teachers are those who think carefully about what they are going to do in their classes and who plan how they are going to organise the teaching and learning. 

Decisions about the basic aspects of the curriculum are stablished in the LOMCE 8/2013, December 9th, Organic law for the improvement of the quality of education. (Ley Orgánica, para la Mejora de la Calidad Educativa).  

Royal Decree 126/2014, 28th February, establishes the basic curriculum for Primary Education. Each Autonomous Community regulates its own curriculum, following the guidelines established in this Royal Decree. Finally, each school will develop and concrete the curricular application at each level, according to the needs and characteristics of its students. 

According to the LOMCE, the curriculum is integrated by the objectives of each educational stage; the competences, or skills needed to activate and  put into practise the relevant contents of the stage in an integrated way, so as to achieve the realisation of the activities and the effective resolution of complex problems; the contents, or a set of knowledge, abilities, skills, and attitudes which contribute to the achievement of the objectives for each educational stage and the acquisition of the relevant competences; the teaching methodology, ranging from the description of the teaching practices to the organisation of teacher’s work; measurable learning outcomes; and the evaluation criteria to assess the level of acquisition of the competences and the achievement of the objectives of each educational stage. 

The contents are organised into subjects, which are classified into areas, fields and modules, depending on the educational stage, or the programmes students take part in. 


In this topic, we will not consider an overall plan of study (for a term or a year). We will confine ourselves to the issues and principles a teacher must consider when planning a lesson: planning units, criteria for the sequence and timing of contents and objectives and the methodology used in learning and assessment activities.



2. Foreign language area planning: planning units.

First of all, we are going to give an overview of the main elements that form part of the syllabus in our Educational System. Then,   we will see the main elements to consider when designing a lesson plan: we must write and clarify our aims, what we want to teach and how and when we are going to evaluate them. We are going to see the planning principles, the elements to consider before a plan, a   pre-plan and finally the plan of a unit.


2. 1 .  The Spanish  Educational System.

 Royal Decree 126/2014, 28th February, includes in the curriculum the following elements: objectives, contents, competences, measurable  Learning standards and evaluation criteria: 

a) Curriculum

b) Objectives

c) Competences


2.2. Planning principles.

 The two main principles behind a good lesson planning are variety and flexibility.

  1. Variety.  A lesson needs variety in terms of: types of activities (songs, games), types of interaction (teacher and whole class, pairs…), language skills (listening, speaking, reading and writing ), tempo (vary the pace of a lesson) and materials, so that learning is always interesting and never monotonous for the student.
  2. Flexibility is the ability to use any number of different techniques and not to be a slave to one methodology. A flexible teacher will also be able to change the plan if what she or he has planned may not be appropriate for a class on a particular day.


2.3. Before the plan

Before the teacher can start to consider planning his classes he needs to know: the profession, the institution and the students.

  1. The profession
  2. The institution
  3. The students


2.4. Pre-plan 

The pre-plan is for the teacher to get a general idea of what he is going to do in the next class or classes. 

He will consider four major areas: activities, language skills, language type and subject and content.

  1. The activities: what the students are going to do (games, a story, listening…etc).Think of the activities in terms of the students, and class period itself.
  2. Language skills: the teacher will have to decide whether he wishes to concentrate on one skill or a combination of skills on the basis of his student´s needs.


2.5. The plan

There is no ‘correct’ way to write a lesson plan, but it should give a clear picture of what a teacher intends to do.

1.  Harmer presents a unit plan with five major components: description of the class, recent work, objectives, contents and additional possibilities.

2. Brewster includes the following elements in a lesson plan: aims and procedures:

  • Aims: what we want our students to achieve.
  • Procedures: how to achieve the aims and the stages in which they are going to be done




The criteria that we will establish to sequence the contents and objectives will be related to the final aim in the study of foreign languages: ‘to reach the communicative competence’. This will make us to emphasize the importance of the four linguistic skills (listening, speaking, reading and writing) according to the capacities and needs of our students. We will contemplate the following elements: 


3.1 Elements in relation to the students

  1. How mature our students are: we should take into consideration their psychological development to learn a language properly (their interests, level of comprehension, their attitude …).
  2. Previous knowledge: are the students familiar with the topic? Is it too abstract?


3.2 Elements in relation to the procedure

  1. The kind of text to be used: how dense is it? What vocabulary, linguistic and discursive elements does it have?
  2. The channel: are we going to use a written text, a tape? Or is the channel going to be the teacher?


3.3 Elements in relation to the four skills (listening, speaking, reading and writing), knowledge of the language and sociocultural aspects:

Throughout Primary Education teachers should give importance to the four linguistic skills, knowledge of the language and sociocultural aspects. However, taking into account our pupils´level of psychological and linguistic development and the process of learning, we will concentrate more in one or two  other skills and in different aspects of the language an its culture.  


3.4 The nature of communication

There are certain characteristics that the communicative events share according to Harmer:

1. Somebody wants to speak.

2. He has some communicative purpose: speakers say something because they want something to happen as a result of what they say.

3. He selects from his language store: in order to achieve his communicative purpose he will select the language he thinks is appropriate for this purpose.

4. He wants to listen to something.

5. He is interested in the communicative purpose of what is being said: in general people want to find out what the speaker is trying to say.                       



4. Methodology used in learning and assessment activities.

Since the main goal of our practice is to reach the ‘Communicative competence’, all the activities will be orientated to such purpose. The communicative approach is an umbrella term to describe methodology which teaches students how to communicate efficiently.


4.1. Communicative competence

 Communicative competence is a linguistic term which refers to a learner’s L2 ability. It not only refers to a learner’s ability to apply and use grammatical rules, but also to form correct utterances, and know how to use these utterances appropriately.The term was first coined by Dell Hymes (1967, 1972).  


4.2. Learning activities.

When planning activities, we should take into consideration certain principles to reach the communicative competence. Let´s see what different linguists say about it, and then learn about the use of ICT for learning activities.


4.3 Assessment activities

Teachers must assess student work in a variety of ways to gauge if learning has occurred. Besides standardized multiple-choice tests and true- measure the quality of their instruction.  These are some of the aspects to bear in mind when preparing assessment activities:

  • Allow students to self-score and peer-score the work before finally submitting it to the instructor. This places additional responsibility on the student for his  own learning and guides him toward mastery. 
  • Make an effort to present the best options for task types that allow ELLs to show what they know and can do within the practical limits of the assessment program. 

4.3. Correction 

At some stage the student’s language production should be judged on its communicative efficacy in relation to a specific task. But this principie does not negate the utility of teacher correction for grammatical accuracy at some other stage . . . It may often happen that the student succeeds in getting his message across (in a grammatically imperfect way) to a peer who may share his grammatical imperfections. For this reason teacher correction is also important. In the ultimate analysis he is also ‘correcting for content’ because grammar expresses content» 



5. Conclusion     

Spanish legislation has placed special emphasis on the ability to communicate in one or more foreign languages, which is one of the goals to which our present educational system is addressed. For that, the  basic curriculum for Primary Education (RD 126/2014) is structured around language activities as described in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: understanding and production (expression and interaction) of oral and written texts. The relevant contents, evaluation criteria and learning standards are organised into four main blocks, which correspond to the aforementioned language activities. 

In order to achieve this goal, our lessons have to  become  effective, and for this  we need to think of the elements that will affect our planning. Teachers need to think of the objectives, contents, evaluation criteria, learning standards and activities that would be suitable for our learners pointing out the need for variety, flexibility and balance. We also should bear in mind the type of students we have and be able to adapt to their needs.

We looked at the criteria for the sequence and timing of contents and objectives and finally at the type of learners to set the activities. 

We should take into account that In Primary Education students leave from a very basic competence level, and therefore, both in the communicative interaction and in the understanding and production of texts, it will be essential to refer always to familiar contexts for students of that age, thereby profiting from their previous knowledge and from their skills and experience.

To end up, we will say that individual classroom exercises and techniques need to be derived in the first instance from a consideration of the purposes to which the language will potentially be put, and the functions it will fulfil, more than from a particular method.




  • BOE, 1 de marzo de 2014, Real Decreto 126/2014, de 28 de febrero, por el que se establece el currículo básico de la Educación Primaria.
  • BOE, 10 de diciembre de 2013, Ley Orgánica 8/2013, de 9 de diciembre, para la mejora de la calidad educativa.
  • Guidelines for the Assessment of English Language Learners, Copyright © 2009 Educational Testing Service. 
  • Assessment Tools for Teaching & Learning |
  • Teacher & Educational Development, University of New Mexico School of Medicine, 2005
  • Harmer, J. The Practice of English Language Teaching. Longman. London 1983.
  • Brewster, G. Ellis, and Girard, D. The Primary English Teacher´s Guide. Penguin. London. 1992.
  • Johnson, K. Communicative Syllabus Design and Methodology. OUP. Oxford, 1982. 
  • David Nunan, Language Teaching Methodology. Prentice Hall International. London. 1991.


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