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English for Specific

Needs Analysis

Ika P. / PBI 5F/08321
Peni R. / PBI 5F/08321 217
Pijar/ PBI 5F/08321


Chapter 1
A. Background
B. The purpose of this paper
Based on the description above, this paper would analyze:
a. Needs Analysis
b. Who Is Conducting Needs Analysis?
c. What Are Target Needs?
d. Gathering Information about Target Needs
e. Learning Needs
f. Analysing Learning Needs
g. Critique of needs analysis
Chapter 2

A. Needs Analysis
Why do learners need to learn English? All courses are based on a perceived
need of some sort. Otherwise why would English find its way in school or
college timetable: someone at sometime must have decided there was a need for
it. What is the difference between ESP and GE? “In theory nothing, in practice
a great deal”. It is often argued that the needs in GE are not specifiable. In fact
this is the weakness of all arguments, because it is always possible to specify
needs, even if its only the need to pass exams at the and of school year. There is
always an identifiable need of some sort. What distinguishes ESP from GE? It is
not the existence of a need but rather an awareness of the need. It is not so much
the nature of the need which distinguishes the ESP from the General course but
rather the awareness of a need, i.e. the awareness of a target situation, the need
to communicate in English. Thus, any course should be based on an analysis of
the learner needs. Analysis for ESP and GE: Questions will be the same, but the
answers will be different. Nevertheless, for the time being, the tradition persist
in GE that the learners can not be specified and as a results no attempts is
usually made to discover learners true needs. Thus if we had to state in practical
terms the irreducible minimum of an ESP approach to course design, it would
be needs analysis, since it is the awareness of a target situation, that
distinguishes the ESP learners from the learners of GE. What do we mean by
“needs”? According to the language-centered approach, it is “the ability to
comprehend and/or produce the linguistic features of the target situation.”
Target needs: what the students need to do in the target situation. Learning
needs: what the student needs to do in order to learn.
B. Who Is Conducting Needs Analysis?
• Learners: current and former
• Teachers and applied linguists
• Domain experts /subject specialists
• Employers
• Documents
• Triangulated sources
C. What Are Target Needs?
Target needs: It is like the umbrella term, which in practice hides a number
of important distinctions.
• Necessities: according to the demands of the target situation, this is
what the learner has to know in order to function effectively in that
• Lacks: according to what the learner already knows, we decide what
necessities are missing. There is a gap between the existing proficiency
and the target proficiency.
• Wants: according to what we have considered from an objective
POV, we have to say that ‘a need does not exist independent of a person.
It is people who build their images of their needs on the basis of data
relating to themselves and their environment’. Thus, objective and
subjective views of needs can conflict motivation. The ESP course
designer or teacher has to be aware of such differences and take account
of them in materials and methodology. Important decisions are to be
made. To undertake Medical Studies To succeed in Agricultural or
Veterinary studies WANTS Means of doing Medical Studies
(Presumably) areas of English needed for Agricultural or Veterinary
Studies LACKS To reluctantly cope with a “second-best” situation The
English needed for success in Agricultural or Veterinary studies
NECESSITIES SUBJECTIVE (i.e. as perceived by students)
OBJECTIVE (i.e. as perceived by course designers).
D. Gathering Information about Target Needs
The analysis of target needs involves far more than simply identifying the
linguistic features of the target situation. Different ways in which information
can be gathered about needs:
• Questionnaires
• Interviews
• Observation
• Data collection
• Informal consultations
Important: the choice will depend on the time and resources available. And,
needs analysis is not a once-for-all activity. It should be a continuing process.
A Target situation analysis framework
• Why is the language needed?
• How will the language be used?
• What will the content areas be?
• Who will the learner use the language with?
• Where will the language be used?
• When will the language be used?
It is obviously necessary to obtain answers to the questions from a variety of
sources, and then negotiate a satisfactory compromise.
E. Learning Needs
Using our analogy of the ESP course as a journey, what we have done so far
is to consider the starting point (lacks) and the destination (necessities) and
where the destination should be (wants).What we have not considered yet is the
route. How are we going to get from our starting point to the destination? The
whole ESP process is concerned not with knowing or doing, but with learning.
We need to take into account the destination or needs of a learning situation: A
task that is enjoyable, fulfilling, manageable, generative, etc. A project in class
can be guided in terms of its general orientation by the target situation, but its
specific content is a response to learning needs. The target situation alone is not
a reliable indicator of what is needed in the ESP course. It can determine the
destination, but we must also choose our route:
• the conditions of the learning situation
• the learner’s knowledge, skills and strategies
• the learner’s motivation
For example, in a target situation students may need to read long, dull,
complex texts, but their motivation may be high because:
• They like the subject in general
• Job/Promotion prospects may be involved
• They will carry out interesting experiments or practical work (based
on the texts)
• They like and/or respect the teacher/boss.
F. Analysing Learning Needs
A framework for analysing learning needs:
• Why are the learners taking the course?
• How do the learners learn?
• What resources are available?
• Who are the learners?
• Where will the ESP course take place?
• When will the ESP course take place?
G. Critique of needs analysis
• Learners may not be reliable sources of information about their own
needs, especially if they are pre-experience learners
• Learners may lack metalinguistic awareness
• Objective needs are not the same as subjective needs
• Perspectives of needs vary; whose perspective of needs should be taken
into account?
• Language use is too unpredictable
• Needs analysis often serves the interests of the institution rather than
Chapter 3


The most characteristic feature of ESP course design is needs analysis. Needs
analysis is a complex process, involving much more than simply looking at what
the learners will have to do in the target situation. Most of all, we have tried to
stress that both target situation needs and learning needs must be taken into account.
Analysis of target situation needs is concerned with language use. But the language
use is not only part of the story. We also need to know about language learning.
Analysis of the target situation can tell us what people do with language. What we
also need to know is how people learn to do what they do with language. In other
words, a learning centered approach needs analysis.

Long, M. (Ed.). 2005. Second language needs analysis. Cambridge: CUP.

Hutchinson, Tom.1989. English for Specific Purposes. Cambridge: CUP.