Various Criticisms Of Needs Analysis English Language Essay

This essay will discourse in item three of the varied and frequently seize with teething unfavorable judgments that Basturkmen offers of demands analysis. It will reason that while the first of these unfavorable judgments are undue, the other two are instead more weighty and withstand possible counterarguments. This essay will get down with an debut to necessitate analysis, and an account of the background to academic attacks to demands analysis. It will so discourse each of the three unfavorable judgments at length, and supply counter statements and defenses of each of these counterarguments. It will reason that Basturkmen is wholly justified in her unfavorable judgments of demands analysis.

Needs Analysis: An Introduction

Harmonizing to Johns and Dudley-Evans ( 1991 ) , needs analysis or needs appraisal is the surveying of English pupils ‘ purposes and backstories ( both English for academic intents and English for particular intents ; and of class in ESL excessively ) . It is besides constituted, writes Benesch 1996: 723 ) “ confer withing module about class demands, roll uping and sorting assignments, detecting pupils in realistic scenes, such as talk categories, and observing the lingual and behavioral demands ; or uniting schoolroom behavior. ” Needs analysis constitutes the general academic method on the footing of which English classs are planned and developed. To set it in a instead more straightforward manner, we may turn to Basturkmen ‘s ain debut to necessitate analysis. In both EAP and ESP, English, Basturkmen notes, scholars do non hold clip or forbearance to larn all of the English linguistic communication, and their acquisition is non for general conversational or educative intents. Rather, it is for a peculiar faculty member or professional or specialist state of affairs. It hence makes sense to aim carefully ( analyse ) the demands of ESP and EAP pupils, and detect what will be most interesting and relevant for a peculiar group of scholars. ( Basturkmen 2006 )

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Given the more or less scientific attack that is taken to descriptive linguistics in general, it is slightly surprising that needs analysis is by and large non submitted to really strict unfavorable judgment ( Robinson 1991 ) ; it is by and large accepted that its conceptual foundations – the classs listed above – are natural sorts. That is, they are thought to organize natural ontological classs which have submitted themselves to discovery by the lingual scientist. However, as Robinson ( 1991 ) and Benesch ( 1996 ) point out, these classs appear to be to a great extent ideologically influenced. These descriptive classs, Benesch suggests, do non offer any consideration of the sociopolitical grounds for a given module ‘s pick of class demands, the balance of power between pupil and instructor, and the apprehension they have between them. Furthermore, classs of demands analysis are frequently rough-hewn and unclear – they take the signifier of wide statements along the lines of “ what the pupils themselves would wish to derive for the linguistic communication class ” or “ what the scholar needs to make to really get the linguistic communication ” ( Benesch 1996 ) .

Needs analysis, hence, is a self-contradictory subject for the ground that, it is itself a vague, intuitively decided set of constructs on the footing of which extended and strict research has been carried out. It against this background that Basturkmen degrees his unfavorable judgment. This essay will turn to what the writer takes to be the three most of import of these unfavorable judgments.

Criticism 1: Learners are non dependable beginnings of information

Basturkmen degrees the following unfavorable judgment against demands analysis, mentioning Long ( 1996 ) as her beginning. She writes that needs analysis is frequently carried out by the surveying of scholars – that is to state, by inquiring scholars themselves about their ain demands. First, scholars are frequently unfamiliar with the specific intents for which they are larning English ; they likely do non cognize exactly what they require in order to derive the best working cognition possible for the occupation or academic subject they are about to set about. This may be extended to the wider unfavorable judgment ; pupils frequently do non cognize what is best for them. Relatedly, ( following Chambers 1980 ) scholars are seldom in the place of possessing, before holding begun larning, of cognizing an equal expressive metalinguistic vocabulary for depicting their lingual demands. Indeed, it would be unreasonable for us to anticipate scholars to hold such a vocabulary. These two unfavorable judgments are related in that they are, if we take them to be justified, damaging to demands analysis in exactly the same manner ; they both render bastard a needs analysis methodological analysis harmonizing to which pupil audience is the primary informations beginning. I therefore take them to be sub-categories of the same unfavorable judgment: that inquiring pupils what their acquisition demands are is illicit. Let us take, so each-sub unfavorable judgment in bend, and see if one or other is justified.

The first sub-criticism, put frontward by Long ( 1996 ) , has besides been given the superficial visual aspect of holding been leveled in several other quarters. Hutchinson and Waters ( 1987 ) note that there is a great extent to which care must be taken when placing pupils needs following what has antecedently been taken to be the standard theoretical account of demands assessment – the Munby theoretical account. Munby ( 1978 ) puts frontward what he takes to be a comprehensive theoretical account for course of study design based on the appraisal of pupils ‘ demands. This theoretical account requires that we take into history a figure of different factors into our appraisal of pupils ‘ demands, including, “ purposive sphere, puting, interaction, instrumentality, idiom, mark degree, communicative event, and communicative key. ” ( Le Ha 2005 ) Information on these countries is gathered by manner of a study of the pupils, and the replies pupils give are placed in clearly defined classs. Hutchinson and Waters ( 1987 ) argue that what this misses out is information which could, but has non so far been, gathered – information on how much a pupil enjoys the class. Now this, of class, is non an arguements against inquiring the pupil, but it may be so construed if we look into Hutchinson and Waters ‘ motive for seting it frontward ; viz. that a big scope of psychological factors are involved in the acquisition procedure – factors which must be taken into history in needs analysis. And it is ill-defined that simple, purely structured studies of the sort put frontward by Munby tantrum this intent. ( Hutchinson and Waters 1987 ) .

We do non take this to be a justified unfavorable judgment of demands analysis for two grounds. First, it ignores the manner in which most demands analysis is carried out. Needs analysis does non, even on Munby ‘s now instead antique theoretical account, rely wholly or even chiefly on what the pupil says per Se. That is, it does non trust squarely on what a given pupil says are his demands as its footing for syllabus design. Rather, it gathers information about a pupil, sometimes through study, sometimes through such luxuriant methods as descriptive anthropology ( Benesch 1996 ) . This point holds for the 2nd portion of the unfavorable judgment excessively. The job of a pupil ‘s neglecting to hold the metavocabulary to depict his demands is no longer a job if this metavocabulary is supplied by the research worker, and applied no straight to what a pupil says, it to a set of informations that has been gathered and manipulated.

Finally, it does non look right to state that needs analysis must be carried out, as Hutchinson and Waters seem at times to connote, on the footing of a purely structured, standardised study entirely. Whilst a certain sum of standardization is necessary ( Berwick 1989 ) , it is far from clear that this is the lone manner. It may be supplemented, as Jasso-Aguilar ( 1999 ) notes, by manner of other methods. She argues that “ the usage of qualitative research methods and more specifically, of descriptive anthropology, can assist to accomplish [ critical duologue with-rather than observation and use of-students ] by taking into history the societal context of people ‘s lives, and by leting them to show their ain voice and demands. ” ( Jasso-Aguilar 1999: 44 ) Now, it is clear that this sort of needs analysis would fall into merely the sorts of jobs suggested by Basturkmen. But used in combination with a more “ nonsubjective ” Hutchinson and waters-type attack, a balance may be struck. At any rate, it seems far from clear that Basturkmen ‘s unfavorable judgment of demands analysis on the footing of the footing of the pupil ‘s ignorance is justified.

Criticism 2: The institutional power-balance

Basturkmen ‘s 2nd unfavorable judgment has to make with the balance of power in a given establishment. Mentioning Auerbach ( 1995 ) , she writes that the information given in needs analysis excessively frequently comes from establishments themselves. Institutions have outlooks sing what a pupil ought to larn and how it ought to be taught, and hence demands analysis “ serves the involvements of the establishments, frequently at the disbursal of the scholars. ” ( Basturkmen 1995: 19 ) The appraisal of whether this unfavorable judgment of demands analysis is justified will depend on two points. First of wholly, we would necessitate to measure the extent to which it truly is the instance that most demands analysis truly does affect establishments confer withing pupils when it carries out needs analysis. We may follow Benesch ( 1996 ) and Auerbach ( 1995 ) in taking it that this so is so. Needs analysis is by and large carried out by establishments on their ain pupils ; and given that, in malice of there being popular theoretical accounts, there is no standard method of transporting out demands analysis ( and even if there were it would certainly be unfastened to a certain sum of reading ) establishments are more or less free to analyze their pupils ‘ demands as they please. Second, so, we must measure the extent to which Auerbach ‘s and Basturkmen ‘s unfavorable judgment truly is a danger – either theoretically or in fact.

The unfavorable judgment presently under treatment can merely of all time be a theoretical danger insofar is it is highly hard to quantify. The extent to which socio-political motivations of an establishment are hidden within a needs analysis programme ( Benesch 1996 ) can non be set out utilizing difficult and fast grounds: the exacting of control by an establishment is a elusive and ingratiating procedure. That is non, nevertheless, to state that this is a danger that can be ignore. Benesch ( 1993 ) can non easy be refuted when she writes that seldom are socio-political factors, such as the socioeconomic places of the pupils compared to each other, the purposes of the establishment – peculiarly it ‘s concealed political docket: “ Needs analysis has avoided inquiries about unequal power in the workplace and academe, leting institutional demands to rule in the name of alleged genuineness, pragmatism, and pragmatism. ” ( Benesch, 1993 ) Auerbach writes that pupils of EAP are so frequently so extremely integrated into their programme that they come to believe that their class demands are the same as their ESP demands ( Auerbach 1996 ) . Benesch notes that classs are frequently shaped to bring forth pupils who will make full places required to be filled within the university, instead than for the general academic intents for which the pupils signed up to the class in the first topographic point. ( Benesch 1996 )

What might be said against this unfavorable judgment? One thing might be as follows: the sort of meta-analysis which Benesch and Auerbach are demanding requires what might be called a “ thick ” socio-political description of establishments, along with the setting-out of guidelines which would depict how, and in what manner, the inclination of an establishment to utilize its ESP and EAP learning programmes to its ain terminals, along with instructions as to how to counter this inclination. One might inquire the extent to which this is truly possible. On the one manus, it would endanger the independency of academic establishments if handed down from above by a regulation organic structure. And it would barely be instituted by the establishments themselves unless it were so forced upon them. On the other manus, it is ill-defined the extent to which it would be possible to decently incorporate the consequences of surveies into concealed institutional motivations into learning programmes without modifying each and every programme on a individual footing. Doing so might good contradict the possibility of a pre-planned class construction ( Hutchinson and Waters 1987 ) .

In response to this we might state the followers, after Benesch herself ( 1996 ) . Universities might non be willing to follow purely prescribed pedagogical regulations, but they might be willing to accept softer guidelines which might, to a certain extent, aid to cut down the power of the establishment ‘s purposes within ESP learning. And this may be done, merely like demands analysis research, without wholly giving a more stiff normative attack. Auerbach and Benesch both put frontward the impression that model might be developed for presenting both structured course of study and sensitiveness to socio-economic demands and socio-political presuppositions and dockets.

Even if such a model were non operable, it would non truly take away from the power of Benesch and Auerbach ‘s unfavorable judgments. Whether or non a manner of assisting to counter the affects of concealed political dockets through prescriptions or guidelines is possible does non impact the extent to which such dockets exist and problematize demands analysis. Their unfavorable judgment is, hence, to the full justified.

Criticism 3: Language Needs vs. Learning Needs

The concluding unfavorable judgment, posed one time once more by Hutchinson and Waters ( 1987 ) before Basturkmen ( 1996 ) , takes issue with the purposes of demands analysis and their true relevancy to teaching method. Basturkmen asks whether or non it is truly necessary or helpful to place merely the usage demands of a mark group of pupils when in fact what the pupils need to make is larn the linguistic communication. That is to state, even if we discover what a pupil needs, it is ill-defined that this will assist us to detect what a given pupil demands to make to larn the needed component of linguistic communication. Needs analysis, Basturkmen argues, will non state us this.

Again, for this unfavorable judgment to be to the full effectual, it must foremost be clarified and expanded. For it to genuinely be justified, two things must obtain. First, it must so be the instance that needs analysis fails to accurately detect the stipulations for a pupil ‘s really larning the coveted parts of a linguistic communication. Second, it must be possible to determine what a pupil will necessitate in order to larn that linguistic communication. Let us cover with each point in bend. It is non, on first sight, wholly clear that it is so the instance that portion of demands analysis encompasses, or at least may embrace, an analysis of a peculiar pupil ‘s pedagogical demands ( construed as an analysis of what is required to assist a pupil learn about a certain country ) . Even a type needs analysis presented by Basterkmen herself ( 1996 ) – one which takes as its pillar a “ thick ” socio-cultural analysis ) looks into the things which might impede the pupil from rapidly larning the mark linguistic communication. And the “ critical ” progrmme put frontward by Jasso-Aguilar ( 1999 ) , for illustration ( along of class with Benesch 1993, 1996, 2001 ) once more proposes to analyze in item the pupil ‘s pedagogic demands.

However, the Prima facie visual aspect of a deficiency of justification on the portion of Basturkmen is, it seems, merely leading facie. The spliting line between larning and ends is non as squarely dealt with as the foregoing paragraph might connote. Following West ( 1994 ) , we might detect that it is hard even to state “ how ” a linguistic communication is learned – the precise mechanism of larning – is a wider lingual inquiry than the present pedagogical survey ( and than those cited ) may lawfully cover with. But that is non to state that it should be ignored. There is no ground why the consequences of a sensitively assessed needs-analysis might non be coupled with current research in larning techniques – and it seems obvious that these techniques should be considered and applied in needs appraisal. The failure of many needs-assessment programmes to advert this may good be seen as a echt defect, and therefore Basturkmen ‘s unfavorable judgment can be viewed as justified.


Of the three unfavorable judgments discussed, the 2nd seems the most fruitful point for treatment and practical betterment. Benesch and Auerbach ‘s demands for a more socio-politically sensitive attack to necessitate appraisal can non neglect to assist those elements of demands assessment which fail to take into history the inside informations and vicissitudes of the demands of the person and the biass and dockets of the establishment. Having said that, it seems necessary to indicate out that this attack comes with danger ; structured attacks must sit aboard unstructured treatment, and a place of via media must be reached wherein equity between, and non merely within, establishments is achieved. The general regulation seems to be this: attacks to necessitate appraisal must be every bit comprehensive as possible, taking into history all known factors.



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