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Introduction to Needs Analysis

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Introduction to Needs Analysis

Post by offline on Thu Jan 13 2011, 12:55

Needs analysis (also known as needs assessment) has a vital role in
the process of designing and carrying out any language course, whether
it be English for Specific Purposes (ESP) or general English course, and
its centrality has been acknowledged by several scholars and authors
(Munby, 1978; Richterich and Chancerel, 1987; Hutchinson and Waters,
1987; Berwick, 1989; Brindley, 1989; Tarone and Yule, 1989; Robinson,
1991; Johns, 1991; West, 1994; Allison et al. (1994); Seedhouse, 1995;
Jordan, 1997; Dudley-Evans and St. John, 1998; Iwai et al. 1999; Hamp-
Lyons, 2001; Finney, 2002). Also, the importance of carrying out a
needs analysis for developing EAP tests is emphasized by Fulcher
(1999), McDonough (1984), and Carrol (1980, cited in Fulcher, 1999)
According to Iwai et al. (1999), the term needs analysis generally
refers to the activities that are involved in collecting information that will
serve as the basis for developing a curriculum that will meet the needs of
a particular group of students.
Brindley (1989) and Berwick (1989) offer definitions of different
types of needs and accounts of various problems and limitations in
making use of this concept, including ways in which we might usefully
distinguish between needs identified by analysts and those expressed or
experienced by learners. In his state-of-the-art article, West (1994) gives
a thorough overview of needs analysis in language teaching, including its
history, theoretical basis, approaches to needs analysis, etc.
English for Specific Purposes world, Issue 4, 2008, www.esp-world.info

Introduction to Needs Analysis. Mehdi Haseli Songhori

According to Iwai et al. (1999), formal needs analysis is relatively
new to the field of language teaching. However, informal needs analyses
have been conducted by teachers in order to assess what language points
their students needed to master. In fact, the reason why different
approaches were born and then replaced by others is that teachers have
intended to meet the needs of their students during their learning.
From the field of language teaching the focus of this paper will be on
ESP. Clearly, the role of needs analysis in any ESP course is
indisputable. For Johns (1991), needs analysis is the first step in course
design and it provides validity and relevancy for all subsequent course
design activities.
Though needs analysis, as we know it today, has gone through many
stages, with the publication of Munby's Communicative Syllabus Design
in 1978, situations and functions were set within the frame of needs
analysis. In his book, Munby introduced 'communication needs
processor' which is the basis of Munby's approach to needs analysis.
Based on Munby's work, Chambers (1980) introduced the term Target
Situation Analysis. Form that time several other terms have also been
introduced: Present Situation Analysis, Pedagogic Needs Analysis,
Deficiency Analysis, Strategy Analysis or Learning Needs Analysis,
Means Analysis, Register analysis, Discourse analysis, and Genre
Analysis. This article attempts to present an overview of the
aforementioned approaches to needs analysis.

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