This paper proposes that for learning programmes to function efficiently they should be seen as a system. Within the system the three core elements (curriculum, delivery, assessment) must be based on a single philosophy of learning supported by clearly defined models of language ability and progression and underpinned by a measurement model. Failure to ensure that all three are fully in harmony is likely to lead to the failure of the system.
The system itself does not exist in a vacuum, but instead, is situated within a specific educational and social context, which is defined by the key stakeholders who comprise that context.
In addition to meeting the academic and pedagogic requirements of the three core elements, for a system to work well and be accepted, a clearly described theory of action based on the needs and expectations of the key stakeholders is critical, as is the need to communicate with these groups and individuals in a timely and appropriate manner. In this way, the social consequences (both intended and unintended) of the implementation of the system can be closely monitored and effectively dealt with.