One of the first things I need to do at the beginning of the planning stage of the course is to conduct a needs analysis. This should be a comprehensive analysis of what the students need, want and lack. It should include information about present knowledge and any gaps in this, general and specific language students will need in the future, skills, types of activity, topics, as well as taking into comsideration the environmental factors outlined in Part 2. The analysis should be partly done by and with the students, but should also take into account research and past experience of similar groups and courses.
The following are some of the aspects I will need to consider:
- What will learners need to learn in order to be able to reach the goals of the course?
- What language will students need in order to communicate at a higher level than present?
- Which skill areas do students need to work on?
- What types of activity or task would best help students in these areas?
- Is fluency work more important than accuracy or vice versa?
- What is the students' proficiency in each skill?
- What language needs to be revised in order to fill in gaps in their knowledge?
- What do students think they need to work on?
- What would the students like to work on?
- What kind of task do students prefer?
- How much time would they be prepared to spend on each aspect of the language?
- Will they spend time out of class improving their English?
- Do students prefer individual, pair, group or whole-class work?
How will I find this information? I will design a questionaire and interview form to use with the students in order to find out as much as possible from their point of view. I will also analyse the work covered this year. I may give students a diagnostic test in order to discover their main weaknesses. When I have all the results, I shall combine them to find the most important areas to include in the course. For example, if an item appears on the "lacks", "needs" and "wants" lists, it is something to spend more time on during the course.