Friday, 25 September 2015

Need analysis

What do we mean by needs?

In the language centered approach, needs means the ability to comprehend and/or produce the linguistic features of the target situation.
For example, the ability to understand the passive voice.

Needs can be divided into two parts which are:

  1. Target needs/ target situation.
  2. Learning needs

a.      What are target needs?

i)       Necessities- what the learners has to know in order to function effectively in the target situation.
         E.g. a receptionist needs to have good communication skills.

ii)      Lacks- what the learners don’t know/ the necessities that the learner lacks.

iii)     Want- what the learners wanted to learn.
         E.g. Ahmad wants to pursue his studies in England. He needs to be able to survive socially and professionally in an English speaking community. So he needs to attend an English course to improve his competency in English.

Objective needs Vs. Subjective needs.

( i.e. as perceived by course designers)
( i.e. as perceive by the learner)
The English needed for success in agricultural or veterinary studies.
To reluctantly cope with a ‘second- best’ situation.
(Presumably) areas of English needed for agricultural or veterinary studies.
Means of doing medical studies.
To succeed in agricultural or veterinary studies.
To undertake medical studies.

Gathering information about target needs.

The most frequent ways used are:
§  Questionnaires
§  Interviews
§  Observation
§  Data collection
§  Informal consultation with learners or others.

The analysis of target situation needs is conducts in order to ask a question about the target situation and the attitudes towards that situation of the participants in the learning process.

A framework for target situation needs analysis. (Hutchinson & Waters 1989:58)

Why is the language needed?
-          For study
-          For work
-          For training
-          For combination of the these
-          For some other purpose, e.g. status, examination, promotion.

How will the language be used?
-          Medium: speaking, writing, reading.
-          Channel: e.g. telephones, face-to-face
    Types of text discourse: e.g. academic texts, lectures, informal      
    conversations, technical manuals, catalogues.

What will the content areas be?
-subjects: e.g. Medicine, Biology, Architecture, Shipping, Commerce, Engineering.
- Level: e.g. technician, craftsman, postgraduate, secondary school.

Who will the learner use the language with?
-          Native speaker or non- native
-          Level of knowledge of receiver : e.g. expert, layman, students
-          Relationship: e.g. colleague, teacher, customer, superior, subordinate.

Where will the language be used?
-          Physical setting: e.g. office, lecture hall, hotel, workshop, library.
-          Human context: e.g. alone, meetings, demonstrations, on telephone.
-          Linguistic context: e.g. in own country, abroad.

Learning needs

In an ESP course, we have to consider:

1)      The starting points ( lacks)
2)      The destination ( necessities)
3)      The journey ( wants)

Learning needs is to consider about ‘how are we going to get from starting point to the destination. In learner-centered teaching approach, the needs and abilities of the learners determine the curriculum details and teaching requirements of the course. There are four main perspectives to view the learner-centered language teaching program: goals, means, rate, expectations. Further, the teachers are trained in way they can fulfil the needs of learners.

A framework for analysing learning needs

Why are the learners taking the course?
-          Compulsory or optional
-          Are status, money, promotion involved?
-          What do learners think they will achieve?

How do the learners learn?
-          What is their learning background
-          What is their concept of teaching and learning?
-          What methodology will appeal to them?

What resources are available?
-          Number and professional competence teachers
-          Materials
-          Aids
-          Teacher’s knowledge and attitude to the subject content.
Who are the learners?
-          Age/ sex/ nationality
-          What do they know already about English?
-          What are their interests?
-          What is their socio-cultural background?
-          What is their attitude towards English or to the cultures of the English-speaking world?

Where will the ESP course take place?
-          Are the surroundings pleasant, dull, noisy, cold etc.?

When will the ESP course take place?
-time of day
- full- time/ part- time

- Concurrent with need or pre-need. 

 Framework for developing a new ESP course. 

(1) Students analysis, which is followed by
(2) Formulation of goals and objectives,
(3) Content,
(4) Selection of teaching materials,
(5) Planning the course, and
(6) Course evaluation.

Course development should be viewed as an on-going process, one in which the teacher makes necessary changes to suite students interests and needs, even as the course is in progress.

Hutchison, T. & Waters, A. (1987). English for Specific Purposes: a learner-centered approach. England: Cambridge University Press

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