I have completely recreated my syllabus almost every year that I’ve been teaching. I have gone back and forth trying to balance not overwhelming students with information with setting clear expectations.

Create a syllabus for World Language courses that conveys important course information and clarifies aspects of your course that are nontraditional.

Can a Syllabus contain too much information?

Well, that’s an interesting question– of course, you don’t want to have a 20 page syllabus that never gets read. The thing that makes me want to really limit the information I include in the syllabus is not overwhelming students on the first day, but I’ve realized that those things aren’t mutually exclusive. As long as I limit what I talk about in the Syllabus on Day 1, I can pack it full of information.

Sometimes, I don’t pass out the entire syllabus at once. I have often waited to distribute my detailed overview of Standards Based grading until just before the first assessment. In the Core Syllabus, there is an overview of grading categories, which I have found is enough to answer the questions that students and parents typically bring about grading. I can also wait to distribute the overview of Storyasking until we are about to ask our first story… but then again, that’s usually on Day 1.

What information is important to communicate in a Syllabus?

These are the basic syllabus elements that I consider to be universal:

  • Course title & teacher name
  • Teacher contact information
  • Teacher office hours/availability for help
  • Materials needed for the course
  • Grading policy (gradebook breakdown)
  • Homework policy

Bring clarity to confusing course elements

I also think it is important to explain anything in your course that might be different than what the parents and students expect. In my case, this involved instruction (Comprehension-based vs. Grammar driven) and grading (Standards based). To that end, I also included this information in my Spanish class syllabi:

  • How language is acquired (an overview)
  • Overview of proficiency levels / the Path to Proficiency
  • Typical class activities
  • Description of storyasking
  • How Core Vocabulary is different than a Vocabulary List
  • What the standards are for the course
  • How assignments are graded against the standard

Explain aaaaallll the policies

Finally, the syllabus is a place to write out exactly what is expected of students each day in class. I don’t go over this with my students (reading through an entire syllabus on the first day is not my favorite!), but I do print it in the syllabus and send it home with students for my one-and-only homework assignment for the year, the Syllabus Homework. Here are some policies that I outline in the syllabus:

  • Seating policy (especially important if you are Deskless!)
  • Absence policy (how to make up work)
  • Tardy policy (what does being on time look like, and what happens if you’re not?)
  • How to enter the room (a good time to explain Passwords if you use them)
  • How to leave the room (clean-up, etc.)
  • Materials policy (what happens if you don’t have what you need for class)
  • Academic Integrity policy (what can you and can’t you do, and what happens if there is a violation)

Comprehension-based Syllabus

Taking all of that into account, here is the syllabus that I put together (Update: reformatted in December 2019):

Pictured here are just the first three pages of the Syllabus, and they are the ones that contain the most important information. On the remaining pages (which are included in the document, but not pictured) , I include the detailed overview of storyasking and all of the Policies and Procedures explanations.

Examples of World Language course syllabi

Find more Syllabus examples for World Language courses–in particular, Comprehension-based courses–on this Pinboard:

… and I’d love to see what you are using! Drop a description or link in the comments!

26 replies on “Syllabus for World Language courses

  1. Nice summary of your class. Supportive parents will appreciate this document. I’m curious what you include in “work habits.” And I see you have your categories “listening” “reading” etc. I would really like to do that but am afraid to take the plunge. Have you done this before?

    1. I have the work habits breakdown listed underneath it on the syllabus (attendance, participation, behavior, work completion). I have done the different categories for the last three years, and I love it. The students like it, too, except for when the end of the quarter comes around and they are reminded that they can’t just hand in missing work and do extra credit to bring up their grades. Then they get frustrated. But they are always glad to know exactly in which area they need to improve.

      1. Hi Martina, I tried to open the editable version of your syllabus and it just sent me to other links,,, How can I get it please?

  2. I love your syllabus! Thank you for sharing it. I have one question. What do you mean by “Do your 50%” under “Rules for Storyasking”? Thank you!

    1. It means that the teacher and students have shared responsibility in the process. I ask a lot of questions, and I need answers to ALL of those questions–yes/no, either/or, open-ended, etc.

  3. I love your syllabus!!! I love all of your materials!! They are excellent! Is your syllabus available for purchase? Or can I get an editable copy of it? That would be wonderful!!
    Thank you!
    Sarah

    1. I’ll put it on Google Docs when I have a chance! Check back on this post later today (and remember that later today for me might be tomorrow for you…it’s not even 9am for me!)

  4. Your syllabus is very information, definitely “pretty” and thorough! Of course I expect nothing less than excellence when you share your materials. 🙂
    Between you and the creative geniuses at Creative Language Classroom I’ve been inspired. In fact your syllabus played a vital role in getting me out of my summer slump, (I was really enjoying the carefree days of summer this year, maybe a little too much) and back into the blogging world.
    I made a new Sp2 syllabus which included your Student/Teacher Responsibilities (I credited you for it) and another section from I.Templeton’s syllabus.
    (If you prefer that I not use your chart on my syllabus, let me know and I’ll make the necessary changes.)
    Thanks.
    Cynthia

    1. Oh please Cynthia…you can use anything that I post, and I am honored as always that you would use it in your classroom. Michele and I were talking about you at a conference planning meeting yesterday…we still need to find a way to get you up here 🙂 I am absolutely nauseated about presenting at the same time as you at ACTFL. It makes me not even want to present. I want so badly to go to your session!! I am so sad. So very sad.

  5. I loved that you referenced Krashen and Asher in your syllabus. The first year I did TPRS the parents were kind of confused and kept asking when the kids would be doing verb conjugation b/c that’s what they knew how to help them with and that’s how they learned Spanish in high school. When a new methodology is present and different from what the parents remember they question it.

  6. Not sure if you can respond to this question in a few sentences or not, but how do you categorize assignments into the 4 components of a language (reading, listening, speaking, writing). It seems that so many activities would cross categories. Thanks in advance for your answer!

    1. Not sure if you can respond to this question in a few sentences or not, but how do you categorize assignments into the 4 components of a language (reading, listening, speaking, writing). It seems that so many activities would cross categories. Thanks in advance for your answer!

      1. Can you give me a specific example of something that you’re thinking of? The short answer is that some assignments receive multiple grades–my semester exams, for example, have multiple reading sections, multiple writing sections, multiple listening sections, etc. Each section receives its own grade.

  7. I was interested in your statement in your syllabus that says your expectations will vary according to the course and time of year. I like the idea of varying the expectations that way! Do you put any weight on writing and speaking at the first for Sp I? And when do you add them in and how much weight do you give them at first?

  8. I love this syllabus…but need to have an editable copy. When I clicked on the “not pretty” version (by the way…lol) I got a “file has been deleted” message…..would you be willing to share again? I am going to be starting teaching with CI next year and I am both scared and excited. Your materials are such a help!

  9. Salut Martina!

    I’ll be starting my third year of middle school French teaching in September and I want to thank you for these awesome insights and resources!

    Merci beaucoup,
    Katie

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