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English Language Curriculums Comparison Research Paper

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Updated: Oct 11th, 2020



The examined curriculum was suggested as a part of the education system reform implemented by the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC). The Cycle 2 English curriculum is focused on the sixth-grade students who are literate in English; the Cycle 2 English curriculum belongs to the curriculum that was discussed in the previous paper – the New School model curriculum. Implementation of this curriculum will supposedly help ADEC meet the needs of the Abu Dhabi Vision 2030, a strategy that the government of UAE has been developing for the past 22 years to improve and reform the economy of the country (Abu Dhabi Education Council, 2016).

Vision, Mission, and Values

The Cycle 2 English curriculum is one of the initiatives that ADEC suggested to support teaching and learning of English but with the focus on Emirati culture. The mission of the curriculum is to implement a student-oriented approach that will, at the same time, take into consideration the experience of international curricula and meet their standards. The curriculum also implies that the students will use ’21 century skills’, e.g. critical thinking and collaboration (Abu Dhabi Education Council, 2016).

Inquiry-based learning which regards real-life context as important for learning is also emphasized by ADEC as a feature of the Cycle 2 English curriculum.

Philosophical Basis

As the Cycle 2 English curriculum is a part of the NS Curriculum, its philosophy is also influenced by the works of John Dewey. Students’ independence is also one of the key characteristics that the Cycle 2 English Curriculum targets. Educators themselves decide which activities might be helpful to their students and influence the personal and social growth of the individuals. Since specific content knowledge is not relevant in the modern world and society, instead, students need to learn how to think critically, use creativity in complex situations, and collaborate with others to achieve their goals.

Curriculum Learning Theory

The curriculum uses two separate learning theories that are professionally combined by ADEC. First, constructivism is used as a basis for the Cycle 2 English curriculum. The theory implies that the learning environment will be similar to the real-life environment, so, at the end of the term, the students will be able to successfully communicate not only in the classroom but also in actual conversations with English-speaking partners.

The second theory used in the curriculum is situated cognition. According to it, knowledge should not be considered as something that can be ‘stacked up’ in a student, but rather as an activity (a.k.a. knowing) that emerges in the students during their interaction with the environment (Roth & Jornet, 2013). Thus, in this curriculum ADEC decided to combine two theories that will demand active participation from the students; moreover, knowledge is not something one can acquire, but rather an activity or a skill that one develops during the learning.



In this curriculum, learning outcomes play a more important role during the study than any textbooks or materials. Students’ skills and understanding are also considered to be the basis of the approach; thus, this curriculum is student-centered and requires the development of skills from the students. However, it is not only students’ performance that is targeted by the curriculum. Teachers must be actively engaged in the learning process of the students; their command of the English language needs to be excellent, and they are required to present and suggest various activities and tasks develop students’ skills in reading, speaking, listening, and writing (Abu Dhabi Education Council, 2016).

Historical Analysis

The strategy implemented by the UAE government is called Abu Dhabi Vision 2030 that targets various industries and social institutions to develop and transform the economy of Abu Dhabi. The educational system is also part of these transformations; the first changes were introduced in 2007 and continue to be implemented. According to this strategy, ADEC aims to improve schools’ quality and make their standards similar to the international ones (Abu Dhabi Education Council, 2012).

Moreover, these standards will also focus on the heritage and culture of the UAE. At the same time, the program is supposed to help students in their adult life, i.e. it will allow them to have better careers. Special needs education is also a part of this program; it should be pointed out that education programs that target students with learning disabilities are actively developing in the West as well (North America, Germany, Belgium, etc.), so the standards of this curriculum were also developed about the ‘Western experience’ in education.

Curriculum Content


The subject of the curriculum in the English language. The curriculum is focused on four sections: writing, speaking, reading, and listening. Each section is divided into other sections that stress certain activities important for students. For example, writing is divided into ‘process’ (what strategies the students need to follow, what activities need to be paid attention to), and ‘producing of written texts’ (specific types of texts are assigned to the grade according to the abilities of the students). The language section (that can be considered as a necessary part of all sections) consists of vocabulary and grammar. ‘Listen and respond’, as well as ‘speak and present’ are the key sections of speaking and listening. At last, the reading section includes ‘strategies’ and ‘meaning and purpose’.

Scope and Sequence

A significant amount of instruction time is appointed to the language section where the Arabic language is also included in some of the tasks to help the students during the study. According to the curriculum, reading will also require a significant amount of time, while writing, as well as speaking and listening, seems to be less time-consuming.

As to the sequence of the sections, the first one represented in the curriculum is the ‘speaking and listening’ section; it is followed by the ‘reading section’. The ‘writing’ section comes next, and the ‘language’ section is presented as the last, although it is the most time-consuming section of all.

Content’s Alignment with the Standards

The content presented in the curriculum is aligned accurately with the set standards. As the main aim of the curriculum is to teach students English using new strategies and a student-oriented approach, most of the tasks require independent monitoring of the learning process and its efficiency. Creativity and collaboration, as well as critical thinking and communication, are necessary parts of all tasks presented in the content, so they repeat the aims that were presented in the standards.


Instructional and Learning Strategies

The learning strategy that will be implemented in the curriculum is the inquiry-based learning approach that helps the students develop lifelong learning skills (Abu Dhabi Education Council, 2016). For example, teachers need to engage students in active learning experiences, encourage them to make connections between the new information and that they already have, use guiding questions that will leave the student an opportunity to control the learning process independently.

Scope of Diversity in the Curriculum

The curriculum does not address the scope of diversity, i.e. it does not differentiate students by sex, gender, race, learning abilities, etc. The diversity that is presented in the curriculum is connected to the grade level classification, but it does not go beyond that.

Use of Technology

The use of technology is highly encouraged in the curriculum. As Abu Dhabi Education Council (2016) states, the process of learning has completely changed in the last 40 years, so the current education system needs to be aligned with it. E-Learning strategies are implemented in the curriculum, as well as other use of technology during listening and reading tasks where students will receive relevant information through various media (the Internet, TV news, etc.).


Internal Assessments

Students will pass various tests by the end of each term that will show the language level they have achieved. The assessment provides various criteria that the students need to consider. Depending on the student’s performance, his/her language skill can be labeled as ‘mastered’, ‘developing’, and ’emerging’.

The ECART framework (English Continuous Assessment Rich Task) is also used during the learning process. It outlines specific themes and topics for each trimester and stresses the importance of teachers’ feedback to the students (Abu Dhabi Education Council, 2016).

External Assessments

The National Assessment Program focuses on curriculum development and teacher development; it collects the data and provides it to the Ministry of Education to evaluate the education system’s efficiency (Egbert, 2012). Another type of external assessment is provided by the External Measure of Student Achievement (ESMA) that measures students’ performance through a set of standardized tests. English reading and English writing are essential parts of the tests (Abu Dhabi Education Council, 2012).

Assessment Benchmarks

Assessment benchmarks are various and depend on the section of the subject. For example, the strategy of summarizing is assessed by the teacher in the ‘speaking and listening’ tasks, while the strategy of questioning and making connections is significant for reading comprehension. By the end of each trimester, a test is conducted where students’ performance is measured according to the assessment criteria.

As to external assessment, ESMA was conducted for the first time in the year 2008 and continued to be implemented each year. In 2011 ESMA was suspended; however, UAENAP still takes place every two years and measures the performance of third to twelfth-grade students.

Assessment’s Alignment with the Standards

Both types of assessments are aligned with the standards presented by ADEC. Since one of the main aims of the curriculum was to prepare students for real-life events and situations that can require English, it is important to notice that this approach is also going to help the students in their future careers. Such a result is expected by the Abu Dhabi Vision 2030, the strategy implemented by the UAE government.

Curriculum Review & Reform

Internal Review and Validity of the Curriculum

As the main aim of the curriculum was to provide new standards in the learning process and assure that the students will develop skills needed for the 21 century, it is possible to conclude that the curriculum is valid. It meets all relevant standards and uses international experience and frameworks as the basis (Abu Dhabi Education Council, 2016). However, to properly evaluate the curriculum, a significant amount of data needs to be analyzed; since this data is not provided yet, the curriculum can only be evaluated through the short-term results.

External Review and Validity of the Curriculum

The education progress was presented in the report of the Ministry of Higher Education, where it was pointed out that instruction time of the subject (English) in the Cycle 2 increased from 4.0 hours (2005) to 5.0 (2010) hours per week (The Ministry of Educational Strategy 2010 – 2020, n.d.). However, in Cycle 3, the number of hours stayed the same. This fact might indicate that no development was detected during Cycle 3. Nevertheless, the plan is still being implemented, so it is not possible to evaluate the results correctly.

Human and Financial Resources

Effectiveness of Human Resources

To implement the curriculum successfully, human resources need to correspond to the assigned tasks. According to ADEC’s plan, education advisors will be employed to support English teachers and present international practices (Abu Dhabi Education Council, 2016). Moreover, licensed teachers from English-speaking countries will also be employed by ADEC schools to ascertain the high quality of education.

Effectiveness of Financial Resources

The primary funding source of the program is the Abu Dhabi Education Council, as well as universities, private funding sources, businesses, and various social institutions. The funding is controlled by the Ministry Of Higher Education and Scientific Research; since the program’s end is scheduled to 2020, the curriculum will be funded permanently and function effectively until that time.

Curricula Comparison

Strengths and Challenges of the Curricula

Since the Cycle 2 English curriculum is still in the process of implementation, it is not as detailed and outlined as the English Language Curriculum and Assessment Guide (Secondary 4 – 6) and may need to present a more detailed description of activities and assessment criteria. However, some of the tasks presented in the English Language Curriculum and Assessment Guide (ELCAG) appear to be unreasonably complicated to the students, while the tasks of the ADEC’s curriculum are designed according to the adequate expectations of students’ skills.

Contextual Relevance

Both curricula present their main aim as the development of lifelong learning skills in students and stress the importance of the English language in the modern world. Moreover, the use of technology is also highly encouraged in both curricula because it is one of the main tools of communication nowadays (Curriculum Development Council, 2007). However, the ELCAG curriculum is focused on the students’ ability to interact with other cultures using the English language, while the Cycle 2 English curriculum aims to develop students’ language skills also for career opportunities.

Impact of the Global Reform Movement

Both curricula seem to be opposed to the Global Education Reform Movement. Thus, education is not viewed as a service sector, and it does not become a trading place for maximizing human capital. Both curricula regard the language as a means to develop the person, his/her abilities, and personality. Moreover, standardization of education is not encouraged in both curricula, but it is one of the main features of GRM.

Reflection & Recommendations


According to the outcomes of the analysis, the curriculum is assumed to be innovative and valid. The principles used in the curriculum were tested and proven successful in various international curricula. Moreover, the curriculum’s focus on the modern tools of education such as E-Learning also emphasizes its relevance. Although the data that will be provided in 2020 might indicate certain imperfections of the curriculum, it must be noted that it combines various efficient approaches and frameworks that are focused on the needs and demands of the students, not on the standardized types of assessment.

Recommended Changes

Because the curriculum is still being implemented and has not yet shown all flaws that it might have, revision of the sections is needed to ascertain that all types of activities are addressed properly. For example, a big part of the curriculum is dedicated to reading and vocabulary improvement; but these activities will not be as helpful in communication as writing and speaking skills. Such an approach is common in many obsolete education systems that prefer to focus on reading and vocabulary. However, this approach does not seem to be successful since it will only help the students comprehend the language, but not operate it. To master a language at a particular level, all sections need to be redistributed equally in the curriculum.

Lessons Learned From the Project

The project has shown me what different aims various curricula can have and how these curricula are implemented in different countries. The modernization of education, as well as a student-oriented approach, might be the necessary means that all education programs need to consider in the context of globalization. The impact of technologies on curricula also should not be neglected because it provides new opportunities both for teachers and for students.

Reference List

Abu Dhabi Education Council. (2012). National assessment. Web.

Abu Dhabi Education Council. (2016). New School Model. Web.

Curriculum Development Council. (2007). . Web.

Egbert, A. (2012). A clearer picture: national and international testing in the UAE. International Developments, 2(2), 1-6.

Roth, W. M., & Jornet, A. (2013). Situated cognition. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science, 4(5), 463-478.

The Ministry of Educational Strategy 2010-2020. (n. d.). Web.

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