Needs Analysis


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Here you will find the main characteristics of ESP and what to have in mind when appoaching our students in connection to the course disign: students' necessities, lacks and wants.

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Needs Analysis

  1. 1. N E E D S A N A L Y S I S
  2. 2. WHY DO LEARNERS NEED TO LEARN ENGLISH? All courses are based on a perceived need of some sort. WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ESP AND GE? “ In theory nothing, in practice a great deal”.
  3. 3. <ul><li>GE learner’s needs are not specifiable. </li></ul><ul><li>This is the weakest of all arguments </li></ul><ul><li>It is always possible to specify needs </li></ul><ul><li>There is always an identifiable need of some sort. </li></ul>G E N E R A L E N G L I S H (GE)
  4. 4. WHAT DISTINGUISHES ESP FROM GE? It is not the existence of a need but rather an awareness of the need. It is not so much the nature of the need which distinguishes the ESP from the General course but rather the awareness of a need, i.e. the awareness of a target situation, the need to communicate in English. Thus, any course should be based on an analysis of the learner needs.
  5. 5. ANALYSIS FOR ESP AND GE: Questions will be the same, but the answers will be different WHAT DO WE MEAN BY “NEEDS”? According to the language-centered approach: it is “the ability to comprehend and/or produce the linguistic features of the target situation.” Target needs : what the st needs to do in the target situation Learning needs : what the st needs to do in order to learn.
  6. 6. 1. TARGET NEEDS It is like the umbrella term, which in practice hides a number of important distinctions. <ul><ul><li>a) Necessities : according to the demands of the target situation, this is what the learner has to know in order to function effectively in that situation. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>b) Lacks : according to what the learner already knows, we decide what necessities are missing. There is a gap between the existing proficiency and the target proficiency. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>c) Wants : according to what we have considered from an objective POV, we have to say that ‘a need does not exist independent of a person. It is people who build their images of their needs on the basis of data relating to themselves and their environment’ </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Thus, objective and subjective views of needs can conflict motivation. The ESP course designer or teacher has to be aware of such differences and take account of them in materials and methodology. Important decisions are to be made. To undertake Medical Studies To succeed in Agricultural or Veterinary studies WANTS Means of doing Medical Studies (Presumably) areas of English needed for Agricultural or Veterinary Studies LACKS To reluctantly cope with a “second-best” situation The English needed for success in Agricultural or Veterinary studies NECESSITIES SUBJECTIVE (i.e. as perceived by students) OBJECTIVE (i.e. as perceived by course designers)
  8. 8. 2. GATHERING INFORMATION ABOUT TARGET NEEDS The analysis of target needs involves far more than simply identifying the linguistic features of the target situation <ul><li>Different ways in which information can be gathered about needs : </li></ul><ul><li>Questionnaires </li></ul><ul><li>Interviews </li></ul><ul><li>Observation </li></ul><ul><li>Data collection </li></ul><ul><li>Informal consultations </li></ul><ul><li>Important : the choice will depend on the time and resources available. And, needs analysis is not a once-for-all activity. It should be a continuing process. </li></ul>
  9. 9. <ul><li>A TARGET SITUATION ANALYSIS FRAMEWORK </li></ul><ul><li>Why is the language needed? </li></ul><ul><li>How will the language be used? </li></ul><ul><li>What will the content areas be? </li></ul><ul><li>Who will the learner use the language with? </li></ul><ul><li>Where will the language be used? </li></ul><ul><li>When will the language be used? </li></ul>It is obviously necessary to obtain answers to the questions from a variety of sources, and then negotiate a satisfactory compromise.
  10. 10. 3. LEARNING NEEDS Using our analogy of the ESP course as a journey, ehat we have done so far is to consider the starting point ( lacks ) and the destination ( necessities ) and where the destination should be ( wants ) <ul><li>What we have not considered yet is the route. How are we going to get from our starting point to the destination? The whole ESP process is concerned not with knowing or doing , but with learning. </li></ul><ul><li>We need to take into account the destination or needs of a learning situation: </li></ul><ul><li>A task that is enjoyable, fulfilling, manageable, generative, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>A project in class can be guided in terms of its general orientation by the target situation, but its specific content is a response to learning needs. </li></ul><ul><li>[Example taken from James Herbolich’s box kite project (1979), page 61] </li></ul>
  11. 11. <ul><li>CONCLUSION: The target situation alone is not a reliable indicator of what is needed in the ESP course. It can determine the destination, BUT we must also choose our route: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>the conditions of the learning situation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>the learner’s knowledge, skills and strategies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>the learner’s motivation </li></ul></ul><ul><li>For example, in a target situation students may need to read long, dull, complex texts, but their motivation may be high because: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>They like the subject in general </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Job/Promotion prospects may be involved </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>They will carry out interesting experiments or practical work (based on the texts) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>They like and/or respect the teacher/boss. </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. 4. ANALYSING LEARNING NEEDS <ul><li>A framework for analysing learning needs: </li></ul><ul><li>Why are the learners taking the course? </li></ul><ul><li>How do the learners learn? </li></ul><ul><li>What resources are available? </li></ul><ul><li>Who are the learners? </li></ul><ul><li>Where will the ESP course take place? </li></ul><ul><li>When will the ESP course take place? </li></ul>
  13. 13. “ From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs” (Karl Marx)