Needs Analysis (NA) also interchangeably referred to as Needs Assessment is a tool to collect data on the multifaceted needs of the learners’ for an instructional programme. It is basically an information gathering process, fundamental to English Language Teaching (ELT) programmes, and criterial to English for Specific Purposes (ESP) (Dudely Evans: 1998, Hutchinson & Waters: 1987). NA is carried out from the perspective of the learners mostly; however, perceptions of other stakeholders are also taken into account. Warrington (2005) points out that NA, in ELT contexts, may investigate “what kinds of English, native language, and literacy skills the learner already believes he or she has; the literacy contexts in which the learner lives and works; what the learner wants and needs to know to function in those contexts; and what the learner expects to gain from the instructional program.” Furthermore, it “focuses and builds on learners’ accomplishments and abilities rather than on deficits, allowing learners to articulate and display what they already know and can do” (Auerbach & Holt, 1994).
Needs analysis is, therefore, a process of establishing what and how of a course (Dudley-Evans & St. John, 1998). Hutchinson and Waters (1987) identify needs as necessities, lacks, and wants. Necessities refer to the knowledge learners need to perform effectively in the target situation. Lacks are the gaps between the present proficiency and the target proficiency of the students. Wants are about what the learners feel they need. So, an ESP course designer must be attentive to these issues while selecting materials and methodology (Hutchinson and Waters, 1987).
2. Needs Analysis: Models & Application
Developments in communicative approach to language teaching in the 1970s and 1980s led to the premise that any decision on the choice and use of instructional material for the learners should be based on “systematic analysis of the learners’ needs for the target language. NA involves the assessment of the needs for which a learner or group of learners may require language. Beginning with researchers like Richterich (1972) and Munby (1978), NA has now evolved substantially to be a defining characteristic of any ESP course design. A variety of data collecting methods are used in needs analysis such as surveys, questionnaires, interviews, and observations.
2.1. Munby’s Model (1978)
Munby’s model is the first model of NA. Initial "objective" needs analysis, as Munby puts it, focuses on identifying learners' real world communicative requirements so that courses could be designed reflecting these and preparing users for their intended use of the target language (TL). This model has become "an unavoidable reference point"(Tudor, 1996: 66). It mentions nine factors that determine learners' communicative requirements (participant, purposive domain, setting, interaction, instrumentality, dialect, target level, communicative event, and communicative...