15 ways to do needs analysis

1. Fill in a form or questionnaire This is the most traditional and perhaps most boring way of doing needs analysis. It can be made more interesting by students interviewing each other and filling in the form for their partner (how much help you will need to give them with question forms etc depends on […]

Written by Alex Case for TEFL.net

1. Fill in a form or questionnaire
This is the most traditional and perhaps most boring way of doing needs analysis. It can be made more interesting by students interviewing each other and filling in the form for their partner (how much help you will need to give them with question forms etc depends on the class) or designing the forms or questionnaires for other people to fill in.

2. Interviews
Especially in 1 to 1 classes, this is the other common way of doing needs analysis. You can make it more interesting by getting students to interview each other in pairs and then mark the interviewers by how much relevant information they got (e.g. giving points for questions they asked that no one else in the class did), or by doing it as a roleplay job interview for a job that uses English, e.g. their own, and getting students to decide who is best for the job.

3. Combine with another lesson
This could mean by language point (see Adverbs of Frequency etc below for examples), or by skill (e.g. reading a text about ways of practicing English or speaking about your previous English studies as IELTS Speaking Part Two practice). If you combine it with ideas on becoming a self-sufficient language learner, you can even do further needs analysis in later lessons in this way, for example if their language wasn’t high enough level to find out much the first time you did needs analysis or if you want to see if their needs and ideas about language learning have changed.

4. Adverbs of frequency
Students use “often”, “once a week” etc to talk about how often they use English in certain ways and do certain things to improve their English, e.g. “I occasionally take part in conference calls in English”. This can be a reading and writing task, or speaking and listening with them asking each other in pairs. Due to the easy language (mainly Present Simple), this is good with even low level classes.

5. Predictions/ possibility and probability
Students talk about their future needs for English, e.g. as a sentence completion task with “I will definitely… in English”, “Next year I might… in English” etc. They can then guess how their partner completed their sentences.

6. Modals
Students fill in the right modal verb for them in sentences such as “I ____________ read newspapers in English”, e.g. “can”, “should”, “need to” or “have to”. They can then compare in pairs, and see if the verbs their partner has put in are also true for them.

7. Functions review
Students match sentences to their functions, e.g. requesting, complaining, apologising, and then talk about how much they need to be able to do those things in English.

8. Ranking
Students rank things they need to do in English by how necessary they are and/ or how difficult they are. They can then get together in larger and larger groups and try to agree new ranking together in a “pyramid ranking debate”.

9. Guess the job
Students match descriptions of how and when people need to use English to the names of their jobs. They can then write similar description for themselves (or their partners after interviewing them), then the whole class can try to match the descriptions to the people in the class.

10. True/false
Students mark sentences about English use and studies true or false for them, e.g. “I need to write more than speak”. Variations include giving the sentences orally rather than on the page, or students making sentences that they think the other person will say “true” for.

11. Make it true
Students change sentences to make them true for themselves and/ or for everyone in their group or the whole class, e.g. changing “Most emails I write are to native English speakers” to “non-native”. If you design the task carefully, this can also be used as practice of specific language points.

12. Presentations
Students give a presentation about their own needs for English, past and present use of English and English studies. To make sure everyone is listening, other students must ask questions at the end and/ or must refer to what other people said when they do their own presentations, e.g. “Unlike Sergio, I almost never answer the telephone in English”. This is good if they need to study presentation skills.

13. Things in common
Students try to find (ten) things that are the same for both of them in their use and needs for English, e.g. “We both read English emails everyday”

14. Needs analysis meeting
Run the needs analysis as a formal meeting with agenda and action minutes

15. Syllabus negotiation
Students negotiate to decide how much time will be spent on certain topics and skills in the course. This is especially useful before or after doing the language of negotiations.

Written by Alex Case for TEFL.net
August 2008 | Filed under Business English
There are links to more than 400 articles and 1000 worksheets plus 1500 blog posts by Alex Case on TEFLtastic blog.

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