Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Multiple Perspectives on ESP Needs Analysis and Research

ESP = English for Specific Purposes, e.g., Legal English and Teaching International Law Students

It's a short article, but it brings up an important issue that may be overlooked in developing LL.M. programs and courses: needs analysis and research.

Multiple Perspectives on ESP Needs Analysis and Research
by Kevin Knight on the TESOL Blog

The author suggests that multiple perspectives must be considered for a needs analysis to be valuable. Focusing on "multiple perspectives" may manifest in a variety of ways. For example, from the article:

In the field of professional communication research, Candlin & Crichton (2012) write of a multi-perspectival research framework. This framework includes multiple and overlapping perspectives of site-specific discursive practices. Briscoe (2009) defines discursive practices in education to be as follows: 
Briefly defined, discursive practices in education are the uses of language in an educational context (e.g., the typical pattern of teacher question, student answer, teacher feedback) or the use of language in context relating to education (e.g., state legislators’ talk when making new educational laws).
Alternative perspectives may include focusing on "necessities, lacks and wants":
Needs or ‘Target Needs’ are comprised of necessities, lacks and wants (Hutchinson & Waters, 1989, p. 54). First, necessities are ‘determined by the demands of the target situation.’ This procedure involves the estimation of necessary skills required for the learner to work efficiently in the target situation. Second, lacks are the gaps between the target proficiency and existing proficiency of the learner. Third, wants are perceptions of the learners about their own needs (Hutchinson & Waters, 1989, pp. 55–57).

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