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Needs Analysis on Non-English Major Students’ English Language Needs. --An analysis based on Hutchinson and Waters’ categorization of needs Group members: Tao Tao, Wu Qiong, Hu Xiaohui, Liu Zhiping Presenter: Tao Tao Oct. 14, 2008. Target group. Two classes of freshmen in college

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Needs analysis on non english major students english language needs

Needs Analysis on Non-English Major Students’ English Language Needs

--An analysis based on Hutchinson and Waters’ categorization of needs

Group members: Tao Tao, Wu Qiong, Hu Xiaohui, Liu Zhiping

Presenter: Tao Tao

Oct. 14, 2008

Target group
Target group Language Needs

  • Two classes of freshmen in college

  • Major in geophysics & geographic information system (GIS)

  • China University of Geosciences , Beijing (CUGB)

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Background Language Needs

  • English is widely taught in universities in China as a foreign language.

  • The curriculum is aimed to develop students’ strongreading competence, listening ability, and preliminary writing and speaking skills, so that they can use English as a tool to get information concerning their own major.

    (National Education Department, 2005,)

  • College English Test, Band 4 (CET-4) is a basic requirement for non-English-major students. It tests students’ general ability of language skills, as well as their mastery of grammatical structure and uses of vocabulary.

    (Committee of CET-4 & CET 6, 2006)

  • Students’ levels of English vary greatly by the time they finish English courses. Some even fail in CET-4.

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Hutchinson and waters categorization of needs
Hutchinson and Waters’ categorization of needs Language Needs


target needs learning needs (route)

necessities lacks wantspsychological motivational material

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Purpose Language Needs

  • What are the necessities?

    What do they lack?

  • What do this particular group of students want/desire?

  • What are the issues?

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Method Language Needs

  • Student questionnaire (adapted from Li & Richards, 1995)

    50 questionnaires distributed, with 41 of them collected back.

  • Informal interview with teacher

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Necessities cet 4 outline
Necessities—CET-4 outline Language Needs

  • Vocabulary

  • Grammar

  • Listening

  • Speaking

  • Reading

  • Writing

  • Translating

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Lacks Language Needs

  • Problems are encountered in every specification of language skills/area, i.e. vocabulary, grammar, listening, speaking, reading, writing, translating

  • Teachers reported the fact that there are major pronunciation problems for the majority of students.

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Results vocabulary
Results--Vocabulary Language Needs

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Grammar and listening
Grammar and Listening Language Needs

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Spoken english
Spoken English Language Needs

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Reading and writing
Reading and Writing Language Needs

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Lacks Language Needs

  • 46.34% of students encounter vocabulary problems often, 34.15% sometimes.

  • 46.34% of students sometimes have difficulty in grammar, 19.51% often, and 26.83% occasionally.

  • Difficulties are met in their listening, speaking to varying degrees.

  • A little more than 50% of students met reading problems ‘sometimes’.

    Reading does not seem to be as serious a problem as listening, which is also a receptive skill.

  • Writing and translating difficulties are generally met to varying degrees.

    What are learners’ wants?

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Vocabulary Language Needs

  • They do want to enlarge their vocabulary and know about different uses of specific words.

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Grammar Language Needs

  • The majority of them want to understand grammatical rules better with the help of teachers and be able to utilize the rules in language output.

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Listening Language Needs

  • They have a strong desire to improve general listening comprehension ability. More than 70% of subjects chose the highest degree in ‘want to improve this skill’.

  • Also, more than half of them expressed the strongest desire in ‘want to be able to watch and appreciate English movies’.

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Speaking Language Needs

  • Students want to be able to do formal presentations/speeches and participate in classroom discussions in English.

  • More than half of them expressed the strongest desire to be able to effectively communicate with English speakers.

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Reading Language Needs

  • The majority of them have the desire to develop the ability to read English literature concerning their major and read for authors’ viewpoint, but not so much for critical reading.

  • More than half expressed strongest desire to improve reading speed and nearly half of them badly want to develop their own effective reading strategies.

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Writing Language Needs

  • More than 90% of subjects have strong desire to be able to express their ideas, emotions, viewpoints etc. in written form.

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Translating Language Needs

  • Students in general show a stronger desire for translating English into Chinese (which is of more practical value for them) than for from Chinese to English.

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Other wants
Other wants Language Needs

  • To know more about cultures in English speaking countries;

  • To pass CET-4;

  • To improve all-around skills of English and continue studying abroad;

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Other wants mentioned
Other wants mentioned Language Needs

  • An environment of the English language;

  • More amount of reading;

  • To learn to sing English songs;

  • To pass CET-4 in first year;

  • Enhance interest in English learning;

  • Intonations and tempo in reading English aloud;

  • English thinking pattern;

  • To speak English fluently

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Learning needs possible route to meet target needs
Learning needs—possible route to meet target needs Language Needs

  • Psychological

  • Attitudinal/motivational

  • Materials: besides textbooks, various kinds of resources are available

  • Teacher

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Issues Language Needs


  • Four hours of English class per week

  • Two hours for listening and speaking

    two hours for reading and writing

  • Far insufficient in meeting students’ needs to improve basic language skills

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Issues Language Needs

  • No opportunity for communication with native speakers;

  • Teachers’ level, especially spoken English;

  • Spoken English

    specified in the outline, but not tested, making it likely to be overlooked in teaching and learning

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Conclusions Language Needs

  • Students want to achieve more than the test outline requires;

  • For them, English is more than a subject. It can be a tool for them to understand the world, and entertain themselves;

  • Issues exist in bridging the gap between learners’ target and present proficiencies.

  • In order to satisfy learners’ various kinds of needs, they themselves have to be the main driving force. What administrators and institutes can offer is limited.

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References Language Needs

  • Brown, J. D. 1995. The Elements of Language Curriculum: A Systematic Approach to Program Development. Heinle and Heinle.

  • Hutchinson & Waters. 1987. English for Specific Purposes. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • National Committee for CET-4 & CET 6. 2006. Outline of CET-4. Shanghai: Shanghai Foreign Language and Education Press.

  • National Education Department. 2005. Syllabus for college English teaching.

  • Richards, J. 2001. Curriculum Development in Language Teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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