Oman: The Implications of Implementing a `Flexible' Syllabus for ESL Policy

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Thu Sep 13 13:51:07 UTC 2007

The Implications of Implementing a `Flexible' Syllabus for ESL Policy
in the Sultanate of Oman

Ali S.M. Al-Issa, Sultan Qaboos University, dralialissa at

The education system in general and ELT in particular are rigidly
controlled in the Sultanate of Oman, which gives teachers little room
to supplement the mandated textbook. This article, hence, discusses
ideologies about the `flexible' ELT syllabus and the role of the
teacher's professionalism in the syllabus implementation process.

One of the powerful `ideologies' that govern ELT in the Sultanate of
Oman is thus the `neocolonial/communicative'. Another powerful
ideology is the `professional', which is exclusively concerned with
the teacher's professionalism. These two ideologies complement each
other and are present in the various statements made by different
agents involved in the Omani ELT system, the pertinent literature and
the Philosophy and Guidelines for the Omani English Language School
Curriculum (Nunan et al. 1987), herewith referred to as the National
English Language Policy/ Plan (NELP). However, these seem to conflict
with the `colonialist/culturalist' ideologies incorporated in the
content of the materials produced locally by the Ministry of
Education—Our World through English (OWTE) and its suggested means of
implementation. This is considered to negatively impact `Omanization'.

This research paper, therefore, critically examines and discusses this
state of ideological conflict via triangulating data from
semi-structured interviews conducted with different agents involved in
the implementation of ELT in Oman, pertinent literature and policy
texts and NELP. Such examination and discussion have their
implications for second language policy implementation.
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