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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
  • Two classes of freshmen in college
  • Major in geophysics & geographic information system (GIS)
  • China University of Geosciences , Beijing (CUGB)

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  • 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


target needs learning needs (route)

necessities lacks wantspsychological motivational material

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  • 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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  • 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
  • Vocabulary
  • Grammar
  • Listening
  • Speaking
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Translating

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  • 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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spoken english
Spoken English

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

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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Psychological
  • Attitudinal/motivational
  • Materials: besides textbooks, various kinds of resources are available
  • Teacher

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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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