Needs Analysis and ESP Curriculum Design Chiou-lan Chern Department of English National Taiwan Normal University Introduction The key steps of curriculum planning include gathering learner information (needs analysis), designing course tasks, activities, and choosing course materials, as well as assessing learners and the program as a whole (Nunan, 1990). • Review definitions and models of needs analysis with sample questions on needs analysis surveys. • Review empirical studies of needs analysis. • Discuss course designs and syllabuses. Definitions and Models of Needs Analysis • Hutchinson and Waters (1987) discuss three kinds of target needs: necessities, lacks, and wants. Figure1. Hutchinson & Waters’ model of target needs • The information of needs analysis will come from different sources. • Necessities can be explored at the workplace. • Lacks can be identified by analyzing what learners can do and match those skills with those needed in the field (i.e., necessities). • Wants are learners’ perceptions and are usually tapped through questionnaires and interviews. • Dudley-Evans and St John (1998) explained the importance of collecting the following information as part of a needs analysis: – – – – Personal information English language information Professional information Language learning information Personal information • Table 1. Sample personal information items on questionnaire 1. Gender: Male__, Female__ 2. Age: under 20___, 21-25___, 26-30___, over 30___ 3. Department: International Trade ____, Business Administration ___ Finance ___, Other (please specify) ___ 4. Years spent learning English: 3 years___, 4-6 years___, 7-12 years, 5. English proficiency tests taken and scores: IELTS ___, TOEFL ___, TOEIC____, Other tests (e.g., GEPT) ___ 6. Why do you want to learn English? to study___, to take exams____ , to apply for jobs____ , others______ English language information • Table 2. Sample English language information items on a questionnaire. Please rank your English language skills from 1 to 5, with 1 being not fluent at all and 5 being very fluent. Listening 1 2 3 4 5 Speaking 1 2 3 4 5 Reading 1 2 3 4 5 Writing 1 2 3 4 5 Overall 1 2 3 4 5 Professional information • Table 3. Sample professional information questionnaire for an EBP course Language learning information • Table 4. Sample language learning information items on a questionnaire Please rank how much you agree with the following statements from 1 to 5, with 1 indicating that you strongly disagree and 5 indicating that you strongly agree to the statement. 1. I learn better when I see the words written down. 1 2 3 4 5 2. I learn better when I say the words out loud. 1 2 3 4 5 3. I learn better when I write the words down. 1 2 3 4 5 4. I learn better when I work in a group. 1 2 3 4 5 5. I learn better when I work alone. 1 2 3 4 5 6. I learn better when I actually carry out a task. 1 2 3 4 5 7. I use English words in sentences to remember them. 1 2 3 4 5 8. I try not to translate word for word. 1 2 3 4 5 9. I read English without looking up every new word. 1 2 3 4 5 10. I pay attention when someone is speaking English. 1 2 3 4 5 11. I try to relax when I feel afraid of speaking English. 1 2 3 4 5 12. I ask for help when speaking English. 1 2 3 4 5 • The following table shows examples of questionnaire items for an EBP course that are aimed at workplace staff. Please rank the frequency of the following tasks conducted in English at your workplace, with1 indicating not frequent at all and 5 indicating very frequent. Reading Writing 1. Email 1 2 3 4 5 1 2 3 4 5 2. Memos 1 2 3 4 5 1 2 3 4 5 3. Financial reports 1 2 3 4 5 1 2 3 4 5 4. Minutes 1 2 3 4 5 1 2 3 4 5 5. Forms 1 2 3 4 5 1 2 3 4 5 1. Phone conversation 2. Meetings 3. Product promotions 4. Video conference 5. Chat with coworkers Listening 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 5 5 5 5 5 Speaking 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 5 5 5 5 5 Interview To find out workplace need: • What English skills are needed most at work? • What are some occasions in which English is required at work? • What are some tasks that you have to perform in English on a daily basis? To discover instructors’ perceptions of students’ needs in a specific field: • What tasks do you ask students to perform in English? • What do you ask students to read in English? • What English skills do students need in order to learn content knowledge in the field? • How proficient should students be in English reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills to learn content knowledge? Summary of Needs Analysis • Needs analysis is important in ESP contexts because students coming from different fields have domain-specific needs. A needs analysis includes more than just finding out about the language students have to acquire. It involves knowing where students come from and where they are heading to (Holme, 1996). Therefore, learners, instructors, workplace administrators, and colleagues need to be involved in the needs-analysis process. Empirical Studies on Needs Analysis • • • • Mazdayasna and Tahririan (2008) Negrea (2010) Lin (2013) The data collected from needs analyses allow course designers to set the main goal for the program, choose an appropriate syllabus for different courses, and select instructional methods and tasks that match students’ needs as well as industry requirements. ESP Course Design • Content-based instruction (CBI) approach. • Task-based language teaching (TBLT) • Hutchinson and Waters (1987): language-centered, skills-centered, and learning-centered course designs. • Dudley-Evans and St John (1998): intensive and extensive courses. ESP course design: Content-Based Instruction • Content and language are on an equal footing, and the type of language used is dependent on the content. Content-based English instruction is about teaching English in a specific content/context, academic or occupational, to learners with a specific purpose in mind. ESP course design: Task-Based Instruction • The task itself is placed at the center of instruction. Brown (2007) further emphasizes the difference between pedagogical tasks and target tasks, with the former being classroom activities and the latter extending beyond classrooms (i.e., to mirror real-world tasks). Pedagogical tasks are similar to role play activities that are commonly found in language classrooms. Three types of ESP course design (Hutchinson and Waters, 1987) • language-centered: identify linguistic features of target situations in order to create syllabi and to design instructional materials • skills-centered: focus on learner performance and competence, and language skills needed • learning-centered: the learners as well as the whole learning context (e.g., the learning process and all interactions among the learners and with the teacher, the material, and learning activities, etc.) are taken into consideration Two types of ESP courses (Dudley-Evans and St John,1998) • Intensive vs. Extensive courses: In an intensive course, the learners are immersed in the course for a specific period of time. An extensive course runs in conjunction with other courses and takes up a small proportion of learners’ schedule. Most ESP courses are run intensively either to prepare students with language and skills needed for a specific content area study or to train company staff for specific workforce tasks. However, in most university contexts, ESP courses are offered along with other content courses and therefore can be considered extensive in nature. Roles of ESP teachers • There are also different roles ESP teachers can play, either as providers of input or facilitators/consultants. The former is a traditional role of a teacher, who organizes the course and controls the class activities and momentum; in the latter, the teacher manages the class, with students or other instructors providing necessary support in content knowledge or skills. • Teachers as facilitators are common in team-taught ESP classes where content-area professors focus on content knowledge and English language teachers offer language support to students. Summary on ESP course design • ESP courses can be designed based on content or tasks; they can also be designed as language-centered, skills-centered, or learning-centered courses. Finally, they can be organized either intensively or extensively. ESP Syllabus Selection • The following is a list of different syllabuses found in the literature that can be applied in an ESP context (Basturkmen, 2006; Carver, 1983; Flowerdew & Peacock, 2001; Hall & Crabbe, 1994; Hutchinson & Waters, 1987): – Lexicogrammar-based syllabus, which is form-focused and centers around teaching structures and technical vocabulary items – Functional notional syllabus, which focuses on language functions – Discourse-based syllabus, which emphasizes text cohesion and coherence at the discourse level rather than at the sentence level – Learning-centered syllabus, which focuses on the processes of learning meaningful content rather than skills and linguistic units – Genre-based syllabus, which focuses on materials and tasks from authentic data in a specific genre – Skill-based syllabus, which focuses on particular language skills like listening, speaking, reading, or writing – Content-based syllabus, which uses informational content and contextualized language – Task-based syllabus, which centers around tasks that students will perform in a specific context (e.g., giving a presentation to promote a product). • Carver (1983) identifies three characteristics of ESP syllabus design: the inclusion of authentic material, a purpose-related orientation, and instruction on self-directed learning. Classroom examples • Yin and Wong (1990) • Business communication course outline (Adapted from Yin and Wong, 1990) Tasks Business meetings Face-to-face interactions Business reports Research techniques Graphic aids Business memos/letters Oral presentations Skills chairing and participating in meetings, writing the agenda and minutes appraising, getting information, and counseling investigating problems, evaluating alternatives, and proposing solutions Gathering information, drawing up surveys and questionnaires, writing reports selecting and designing forms to best represent quantitative data inquiring, informing, promoting and selling products giving short individual or team presentations, and selling ideas/services • In Taiwan, Chen, Chiu and Lin (2011) conducted a study to establish a curriculum model for tourism and hospitality courses. They conducted an in-depth interview with experts in tourism and hospitality and identified four curriculum dimensions in the field: English for food and beverage services, English for air flight services, English for hotel services, and English for tour managers and guides. For each of these four specific sub-fields of tourism and hospitality, different courses were designed. For example, the English for Hotel Services course included reception counter services, hotel telephone services, customer services, transportation services, medical and emergency management, and crisis management. • The two examples of courses and classroom practices were all based on a needs analysis in a particular context that led to a course designed to meet those specific needs. From the results of a needs analysis, specific course objectives and syllabuses can be drawn up and pedagogical activities designed. Once a program is implemented, ongoing evaluation is important to maintain its quality. Conclusion • In this presentation, the importance of planning ESP courses with data on necessities, lacks, and wants that match the needs and common purposes of a specific field have been highlighted. When the needs are identified, they should be worked into concrete goals and objectives in a logical sequence. The next step is to develop instructional plans, or a syllabus that specifies the content of course materials, teaching activities and tasks, as well as assignments for students to accomplish. Finally, ways to evaluate students and assess their ability to perform the tasks specified in the course are needed. Similarly, courses need to be evaluated to see if the goals set out at the beginning of a course have been achieved. Thank you for your attention!