1. Target situation needs = needs defined in relation to the situation in which the learner will eventually need to function
A. Necessities = what the learner needs to know in order to function effectively in the TS
B. Lacks = what the learner already knows and does not know
C. Wants = what the learner feels s/he needs
Q: Which of these are subjective and which objective?
2. Learning needs = needs of the learning situation (what is manageable at present)
Learner 1: What are his necessities, lacks and wants?
Karl Jensen is a German engineer who has a frequent and important need to read texts in English. He also needs to talk to overseas colleagues occasionally, for example, at the annual planning conference. The company he works for is a multi-national company and the operating language for communication outside national boundaries is English, although the majority of workers are non-native speakers. By any quantitative analysis Karl Jensen’s need is for reading, because it is a much more frequent activity for him. But he feels a far stronger need to spend his time in the English class improving his oral competence. Why? The answer lies in the way in which he identifies his own personality with the use of a foreign language. He reads in private and at his own speed: he can use a dictionary if he wants. But when he is speaking, his pride is on the line: his English competence (or lack of it, as he sees it) is exposed for all to see and he is under pressure to participate at a speed determined by the discourse.
Learner 2: What are her necessities, lacks and wants?
Li Yun Zhen is a Chinese graduate in chemistry, who is going to study in the United States. She needs to be able to survive socially and professionally in an English-speaking community. Fluency is, therefore, her greatest need. Li Yun Zhen, however, prefers to spend her time improving her knowledge of English grammar. Why? Her answer lies in her estimation of priorities. Inorder to be accepted for her course of study she must first pass a test. The most important criterion in the test is grammatical accuracy. She, therefore, sees as her priority need as being to pass the test.
Learner 3: What are his necessities, lacks and wants?
Jose Lima is a Brazilian salesman. He needs to be able to talk on the telephone to customers and to other colleagues. He also needs to read catalogues and business letters. Jose is an outgoing, sociable man, who gets on easily with people. His spoken English is not very accurate, but is fluent. His employer feels that Jose ‘s real need is for greater accuracy in spoken conversation, because it reflects badly on the company’s image to have one of its representatives speaking very incorrect English. However, Jose feels that his spoken English very good, and he resents the implication that it is not. After all, he communicates very well. He sees the English classes as a criticism of his performance as a salesman. He, therefore, has little motivation to attend classes.
Target situation analysis vs. analysis of learning needs
Target situation analysis
Why is the language needed? (e.g., for study, work)
How will the language be used? (speaking on the phone)
What will the content areas be? (e.g., medicine)
Who will the Ls use the language with? (native/non-native speakers, customers/colleagues)
Where will the language be used? (meetings abroad)
When will the language be used? (concurrently with ESP course/afterwards; frequently)
Analysis of learning needs
Why are the Ls taking the course? (e.g.,their attitudes)
How do the Ls learn (what methodology will appeal to them?)
What resources are available? (materials, trained ESP teachers?
Who are the Ls? (age, nationality, subject knowledge)
Where will the ESP course take place? (classroom features)
When will the ESP course take place? (every day/once a week)
Types of needs analyses I
Dudley-Evans & St John (1998)
1.Target situation analysis
= objective, perceived, product-oriented needs
2. Learning situation analysis
= subjective, felt, process-oriented needs
3. Present situation analysis
= the learner’s current strengths and weaknesses (what learners already know)
Target situation, learning situation or present situation needs analysis?
1. I need to see vocabulary written down.
2. I have occasional meetings with British colleagues.
3. I find it difficult to write persuasively.
4. I pick things up by listening.
5. Student X needs to read more widely.
6. I like problem solving.
7. I get my tenses mixed up.
8. I hate group work.
9. I have to write reports.
10. My problem is finding the right word.
Types of needs analyses II
Holliday & Cooke (1982): means analysis
= analysis of the environment where the course will be run
Factors in the environment are seen not as negative constraints but rather as relevant features
Question to be asked: What is best given the situation? (rather than ‘How can programme X be implemented’?)
Conducting needs analysis: Sources of information (based on Long, 2005)
Literature: published (e.g., ESP research articles) and unpublished (e.g., in-house reports)
Learners: current and former
Teachers and applied linguists
Domain experts /subject specialists
Conducting needs analysis: Methods of gathering data (based on Long, 2005)
Discourse analysis (spoken and written) using genre analysis, computer-based analysis, etc.
How not to design a questionnaire: What is wrong with the following items?
1. Do you need spoken and written language? Yes / No
2. Do you use a lot of English in your work? A) a lot b) a little c) not much
3. do you prefer a friendly student-centred approach to a rigid teacher-dominated one?
4. If you utterance is linguistically deviant, do you want: a) peer correction, b) a metalinguistic signal, or c) language correction
5. How much individual consultation with the teacher do you think you should have on this course?
Suppose you were hired by the International Academy to do a needs analysis in order for new pre-sessional and in-sessional courses to be introduced for MA students at Essex. What sources of information and methods would you use to collect information?
Critique of needs analysis (based on Basturkmen, 2006)
Learners may not be reliable sources of information about their own needs, especially if they are pre-experience learners
Learners may lack metalinguistic awareness
Objective needs are not the same as subjective needs
Perspectives of needs vary; whose perspective of needs should be taken into account?
Language use is too unpredictable
Needs analysis often serves the interests of the institution rather than learners
Long, M. (Ed.).(2005). Second language needs analysis. Cambridge: CUP.
For further information on methods and sources of information in needs analysis see Long’s own article in the volume.
For examples of needs analyses in various settings, see other chapters.
West, R. (1994). Needs analysis in language teaching. Language Teaching, 27 (1), 1-19.
Good for the history and development of needs analysis.
Cowling, J.D. (2007). Needs analysis: Planning a syllabus for a series of intensive workshop courses at a leading Japanese company. English for Specific Purposes, 26 (4), 426-442.
1. the client’s requirements?
2. the target group?
3. sources of information used for needs analysis?
4. methods of data gathering used?
5. methods of data gathering discussed but not used? Why were they not used?
6. information provided during each step in the data gathering process?
7. the most useful and the most disappointing step in needs analysis?