This article explores three current, influential English language teaching (ELT) curriculum approaches to the teaching of English in public-sector schools at the primary and secondary level and how the theory of each approach translates into curriculum practice. These approaches are communicative language teaching (CLT), genre-based pedagogy, and content and language integrated learning (CLIL). For consistency across approaches, the theoretical underpinnings of each will be briefly described according to a matrix of curriculum factors including: • the view of language and language acquisition underlying the approach • how learners' needs are construed • the nature of the content and materials • the teacher's role • the context • how language is assessed This is followed by a discussion of research on how each approach is implemented in primary and secondary contexts, the extent to which the theory is put into practice and factors that influence its success in the classroom. Implications for the future of curriculum development in ELT will be discussed. These implications address the viability of CLT in primary and secondary schools, the role of knowledge about language in curriculum implementation, and teacher roles and identity.