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Needs Analysis

1090 words - 5 pages

The major difference of ESP from GE (General English) is that it focuses solely on the particular needs of the students. In GE specific learning materials design is not always necessary as it is mostly predetermined by the school, government or other institution. In ESP it is the case that teachers themselves have to develop the whole course or at most– the materials (Hutchinson and Waters, 1987). Nevertheless, ‘what distinguishes ESP from GE is not the existence of a need as such but rather an awareness of the need’ (ibid.: 53). Being aware of the students’ needs can have a great and positive influence both on the development of materials and on the teaching process itself.
Hutchinson and ...view middle of the document...

The authors separate two kinds if needs – target needs (how the learner has to operate with English in the target situation) and learning needs (‘what the learner needs to do in order to learn’) (ibid.: 54). The first term holds in itself also aspects like necessities, lacks and wants (ibid.: 55). It is important to discuss these above mentioned terms closer. Necessities are objective needs that are predetermined by the target situation. These imply specific demands from the workplace (e.g. writing letters, participating in a meeting, etc.), academic environment (e.g. writing critical literature reviews, giving presentations, etc.) or any other target situation. The students’ ‘target proficiency needs to be matched against the existing proficiency’ (Hutchinson and Waters, 1987: 56) to recognize the current lacks which have to be fulfilled by the ESP course. Finally, wants are the subjective needs of each student. The latter needs to be analysed carefully as it is often the case that students tend to express their personal needs more than the professional (ibid.: 56-59).
The newest research in the ESP field has discussed the significance of needs analysis (Mehdi, 2007; Chen, 2006; Kaur and Clarke, 2009; Sarjit and Alla, 2010; Shing and Sim, 2011; Tahir, 2011; Gass, 2012; Masoumpanah and Tahririan, 2013; Sanmugam, 2013); nevertheless, yet again scholars confirm the opinion of already established names in the field as Hutchinson and Waters (1987) and Dudley-Evans and St John (1998).
Hence, the next logical step for ESP materials development is establishing Needs Analysis for the target group. Basturkmen (2010: 17) defines this term as ‘a process of recognizing the peculiarities of language and skills the specific group of learners need in their academic and/or professional life’. These needs are taken into account when the course is being developed and can be used at the end of the course as testing material.
It has to be considered that teachers cannot design materials based only on the idea of what students think they need or want to learn (that may also be another case). Interviews with stakeholders, English teachers of the group, former students, colleagues and other possible parties involved have to be held in order to secure the ideas of what language elements and skills have to be emphasized in the classroom and individual work. A recent study in ESP for the Arts of...

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