When needs analysis goes wrong

I don’t mean when they find nothing to say about their needs (I’ve got it set up so that it’s useful as a language task even when it is not as a needs analysis). What I’m talking about here is when you can see it dawning on them “Actually, what the hell am I doing here studying (this kind of) English?” as they go through the questions, something I’d been subconsciously aware of but became really obvious with a recent class.

When they find that they’ve learnt something they might be able to use some time and never learnt in their previous umpteen years of English and that they had fun, the doubt and angst have usually disappeared from their faces by the end of the lesson. I can’t help wondering, though, if it starts gnawing at them again on the bus on their way home, a little bit like this the depressed priest on the bus home with Radiohead playing in Father Ted Goes to America.

More on Needs Analysis

The previous one in what seems to be turning into a “When… goes wrong” series is:

When elicitation goes wrong

This entry was posted in Business English and ESP, Learner motivation, Needs analysis, Onestopenglish, TEFL, Usingenglish. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to When needs analysis goes wrong

  1. Thanks Alex for this bit of thought-provocation. While I completely recognise the situation of learners doing a needs analysis and answering pretty vaguely (err, I need English well I don’t know really but I think it would be good to have as you never know…) I wonder if learners have thoughts like these. My cynical thought is that they do when they realise they aren’t learning it that much, when they get bad results or just don’t devote time to it.

    I’ve toyed with taking Chinese lessons for the same reasons that many people study English – just a feeling that it could be useful and important one day. If I eventually go for it I’ll let you know if I feel the same way after a few classes.

    Thanks too for the pointer towards 26 letters – gosh how many more blogs can my Google reader take before smoke starts coming out of my computer!

  2. Neil Barker says:

    Thanks for those links. In all of my previous teaching jobs, I’ve been simply plugged into the position and never really forced to do a needs analysis in a thorough way. I’ve had to be reactive and adjust my classes and the syllabus as the classes progressed.

    In the next few months, I’ll be teaching more freelance and short contracts, so these links will definitely help.

  3. David V. says:

    Hey, aren’t you that Neil Barker who caused all that furore on the ELT World China forum? I got stalked by a right nut-job because of you.

    Back on topic… I wonder what percentage of needs analysis end with the student being placed in a class to study Headway Pre-int.

  4. SandyM says:

    At a previous place of employment they were referred to as ‘Needless Analysis’, because as soon as we got them in and looked at the results, we would simply … offer them them the same old course and coursebook as we offered to everyone.

    I’m sure you would never do anything like that, Alex!

  5. David V. says:

    Like I said, all roads lead to Headway Pre-int.

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