Curriculum design

Pleines, Christine and Vialleton, Elodie (2025). Curriculum design. In: Álvarez, Inma and Fuertes Gutierrez, Mara eds. The Politics of Language Teaching and Learning. Perspectives from Higher Education in the UK. London: John Murray Press (In Press).


Framed by notions of language and what language education aims to achieve, this chapter explores issues around curriculum design for language learning. It asks what language learners may want to communicate and to whom, and how we can establish a framework which will support the development of understanding and competencies that are relevant in a global society. The chapter looks at current practice in UK Higher Education and discusses how language curricula are influenced by trends and policies, and further shaped by documents such as the revised Common European Framework, which is now taking account of mediation skills and plurilingual practices. In a case study, it critically explores the introduction and continued development of a new curriculum framework at the UK’s largest university, The Open University, between 2014 and 2023. Key issues include static versus more process-oriented approaches to curriculum design, the integration of a wide range of skills into language curricula, ongoing discussions around ‘content’ and ‘language’ teaching in Higher Education, and the inclusion of learners’ plurilingual repertoires. The strive to ‘decolonise the curriculum’ is highly pertinent for languages provisions and it seems essential to reflect on what languages are being offered and for what purpose, in what ways the field could and should be made more interdisciplinary and how diversity can be built into the curriculum itself.

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