Sunday, April 26, 2009


Carter, R & Nunan, D, 2001 The Cambridge Guide to Teaching English to Speakers of other Languages. Cambridge University Press

- The teaching and materials of ESP are founded on the results of needs analysis

- Initial questions in ESP preparation:

Ø What do student need to do with English?

Ø Which of the skills do they need to master and how well?

Ø Which genres do they need to master, either for comprehension or Production purposes?

- Main Components in ESP needs analysis:

1. Target Situation Analysis

- What learners will have to do in English in the target situation?

- What skills and language do they need?

2. Learning Situation Analysis

- What are the learners’ subjective perception of their English?

3. Present Situation Analysis

- Investigation of learners’ weaknesses or lacks.

4. Means Analysis

- Analysis of the environment in which English is taught versus

that in which it is used.

- Outline of Needs Analysis procedures

1. Deciding objects of analysis,

2. Selecting Method & instrument for data collection,

3. Data Collection,

4. Data Analysis

5. Results

6. Course / Syllabus Design


(Courtesy: Eleni Bindaka and Marisa Christopoulou)

NA can be carried out in a number of different ways which can be classified as either inductive (case studies, observations etc.) or deductive (questionnaires, surveys etc.) (Berwick,1989: 56-7) Some of the most common ones are: (West, 1994: 7-8)

1. Pre-course placement/diagnostic tests which estimate the language level of the learners.

2. Entry tests on arrival which can have a diagnostic value and identify learners’ language weaknesses and lacks.

3. Observation of classes which are of value mainly for deficiency analysis.

4. Surveys based on questionnaires which have been established as the most common method and help us draw a profile of our learners’ needs/lacks/wants/learning styles/strategies etc. and at the same time make them aware of these

needs/lacks etc.

5. Structured interview which consists of pre-planned questions the answers to which can either be recorded or written down.

6. Learner diaries which can be used as supplementary to end-of-course questionnaires offering retrospective, qualitative information.

7. Case studies which provide in-depth information about the needs and difficulties of individual learners or groups.

8. Final evaluation/feedback usually in the form of questionnaires which provides information on the evaluation of the course and helps design/improve the next course.

It is clear that depending on the method of data collection NA can be (West, 1994: 5):

a. off-line’, which is conducted in advance of the course, so that there is plenty of time for syllabus design and materials preparation.

b. ‘on line’ or ‘first-day’, which is carried out when learners start the course.

c. ‘on-going needs re-analysis’ which reformulates objectives periodically as awareness of the demands of the target situation increases and the needs become more focused.

It is important to have in mind that there is no single approach to needs analysis or method of data collection and that a combination or adaptation to one’s own teaching situation might be more illuminating. What is of paramount importance to remember is that what really matters is not perhaps the data collected through a NA process/project, but how we exploit it to our students’ benefit. In the light of the above we favour the use of an on-line questionnaire (at the beginning of the school year) which, as the course progresses and hopefully the needs awareness increases, can turn into an on-going needs re-analysis. The following questionnaire is an indicative example of an on-line NA, which can be adapted according to your students’ needs, interests and profile.


West, R. (1994) “State of the art article: Needs Analysis in Language Teaching”,

ELTJ, 27/1. 1-29

Sample ESP Needs Analysis (Learning Situation Analysis)

1. What’s your job/intended profession precisely?

2. How much do you use English?

3. What fields/ topics do you need to talk about?

4. In which of these areas do you most need to improve your English?

5.Are you doing anything to improve your English at the moment?

6. Do you do anything else in English-CNN, subtitled movies, DVD, newspapers?

7. What resources do you have at home/ work? (Dictionary- bilingual/ monolingual, Internet access, TV/ DVD, Pressnewspapers or magazines)

8. What’s the next thing you have to do in English?

9. Any conferences/ meetings/ trips/presentations coming up?

10. How far do you want to go with your English (listening, speaking, reading, writing)?

Source: Alex Case

- Discussion

Methods for the analysis of the 4 components?

- Group Project

Conducting ESP needs analysis on various target situations and groups of learners.

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