Analysing Needs at Adults Levels

(Reading time: 3 - 5 minutes)

A. What is ‘needs analysis’?

By definition ‘needs analysis’ is the procedure which is organized in order to determine the gap between the existing knowledge of learners and the one needed for fulfilling the desired aims. Once this gap is determined, decisions can be made concerning the procedures which need to be followed in order to bridge the gap. In an educational setting, especially when teaching adults, a learning needs analysis may help the learners themselves to discover where they are in terms of their knowledge, skills and competencies, compared to where they wish to be and what are their learning goals. Ideally, a learning needs analysis is conducted with a group of students before a course takes place.

B. Why do you need a learning needs analysis?

A learning needs analysis will help the group to:

* Identify skills and knowledge which the learners already have.
* Emphasize skills/knowledge/competencies which need to be developed.
* Become aware of what each student wishes to achieve during the course.
* Outline and set expectations and learning goals.
* Provide information about the students.
* Specify the learning content which suits the learners’ needs.

C. The tool

The following table may be used for a simple needs analysis for adult learners (may be also suitable for younger learners if adapted) concerning their style of learning.
Deliver it to your learners before or soon after the course has started and check the results. Then, you (with or without the involvement of the students) may be able to help each student individually and plan for the group accordingly.

Do you get good marks in grammar tests?         
Do you easily remember new words?         
Do you get upset when you make mistakes?         
Do you get upset or stressed if mistakes are not always corrected in class?         
Is your pronunciation better when you read aloud than when you have a conversation?         
Do you need more time to think before you speak?        
Do you enjoy your classes?        
When you are on a holiday abroad do you find it difficult to learn more than two, three words in the new language?        
Do you believe that it is important to learn new grammar rules, words etc. by heart?        

D. How to calculate the score

3 points for each ‘USUALLY’
2 points for each ‘SOMETIMES’
1 point for each ‘ALMOST NEVER’ OR ‘NEVER’
0 points for each ‘DON’T KNOW’

POINTS: 0-8 – ‘I’m not sure’
This does not mean that you are a weak language learner. However, you need to find ways to understand how you learn and identify which areas you need to develop.
SUGGESTION: Try to become more aware of the ways you learn the language and read the suggestions for the ‘The relaxed language learner’ and the ‘The analytical language learner’.

POINTS: 9-13 - ‘The relaxed language learner’
You are a good language learner who enjoys communicating with other people and it seems easy for you to learn a language. You may have thought of studying grammar rules but you are the type of person who easily loses interest in learning grammar rules by heart etc.
SUGGESTION: Find more time for studying and organize your study time. Also try to become more self-critical, try to identify your mistakes and correct them.

POINTS: 14-22 – ‘The mixed language learner’
You seem to be the type of learner who is motivated by the situation in which you are involved. You seem to be learning in different ways depending on the context and your instant motivation. You are a mixture of the ‘The relaxed language learner’ and ‘The analytical language learner’
SUGGESTION: You may find out that you either fall into the ‘The analytical language learner’ category or ‘The relaxed language learner’ category.
Try to think of the learning areas which need improvement and try to do so during the course.

POINTS 23-27 – ‘The analytic language learner’
Your priority is accuracy and you always need to think carefully before doing a grammar exercise or when learning the meaning of new words etc. It is very important for you to avoid mistakes and you seem to sacrifice fluency to accuracy.
SUGGESTION: Try to become more fluent by trying to speak as much English as possible. Stop worrying about your mistakes all the time and become more self dependant.

Adapted from ‘Learning to learn’ by Ellis and Sinclair, CUP 1989

Akis Davanellos has been a school owner and Practitioner Teacher for eighteen years and he holds an MA in ELT from the University of Warwick. He has written a number of articles in local and international journals and he has worked for international and local publishing companies presenting professional and commercial seminars and courses. He has also been involved in book evaluations and piloting. He is the initiator and the main materials designer of the IGUANA PROJECT publishing house, the initiator of the Iguana Project Educational Support System for schools (I.P.E.S.S.) and the e-enilikes method for adult education.

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