In this essay I will state clearly the definition of needs analysis and explore how needs analysis can be used to develop an appropriate beginners' course for adult learners. Furthermore, I will outline to what extent do the methods and approaches needed to teach beginners differ from those needed to teach students of higher proficiency levels.
In the field of 'needs analysis', the work of John Munby's Communicative Syllabus Design (1978) is one of the most thorough and widely known work. In his work, he presents detailed set of procedures for discovering target situation needs. He calls this set the Communication Needs Processor (CNP). The CNP consists of a range of questions about key communication variables, for example, topic, medium, learners, etc. This would be used to identify the target language needs of any group of learners. With this new idea of CNP, he provided a mechanism for identifying the needs of any group of learners (Hutchinson, D. 1992).
Definition of needs analysis:
Needs analysis is considered as the process of gathering and interpreting information on the uses to which language learners will put the target language (TL) following instruction; and what the learners will need to do in the learning situation in order to learn the TL. The results of needs analysis are used in language program planning to make decisions about appropriate learning objectives, syllabus content, teaching and assessment methods, learning materials and resources. In another definition, needs analysis is 'the ability to comprehend and/or produce the linguistic features of the target language'.
Necessity of needs analysis:
Over the past two decades natural approaches to language learning have been adopted in many language learning contexts. These approaches are based on an assumption that students learn naturally and unconsciously, if they are exposed to the appropriate language input (Krashen and Terrell 1993). When using natural approaches teachers are often reluctant to intervene once they have provided the input. It is considered that intervention will disrupt the learning process.
More recently such natural approaches have been criticized because they are based on an 'invisible pedagogy' (Bernstein 1990:73). Many educators are proposing more principled approaches to teaching and learning based on a 'visible pedagogy'(Bernstein 1990:73) which clearly identifies what is to be learned and what is to be assessed.
There are certain necessities required which identify the types of needs of the learners. Needs analysis involves the collection before and during instruction of both objective information (relating to the learner's biographical data, learning purposes and language proficiency) and subjective information (relating to the learner's attitudes, preferences, wants and expectations).
Procedures used in needs analysis:
There are a variety of procedures that can be used to collect information for needs analysis to develop an...