Needs Analysis Assignment for AGG53

Why are students bored in the English Classroom?

A Needs Analysis on a General English Language Course in a Greek Lyceum Class for English Language

Ioannis Kleanthidis Wednesday 25 January 2012

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..p....…..p...p.…………………………………………………….p. 5 Aspects of Needs Analysis Theory:……………………………….. 11 Appendices .....……………………………………. 7 Implications:……………….……. 9 Conclusion:………………………………………………………. 7 Presentation and Discussion of Results:…………………. 5 Description and Rationale:………………………………………. 13 10-12-53-2-KLEANTHIDISIOANNIS-69540 3 .p.p.p.10 References ………………………………………………..Contents: Introduction……………………………………………………… p..

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There are 28 students in the class between 16-17 years old. 1) based on Watanabe’s (2006. In this attempt I have constructed a needs analysis questionnaire (App. while Munby’s model seems like an updated edition of the ‘Threshold Level’. if anything can be done in order to have a positive effect on the teaching process. p. p. 2004. 84 and Richards. 51) where learning English has a special focus on certain areas of the language and allows the course designer to narrow his scope on what to include in the syllabus. 150). “there is no wholly adequate means of identifying learner needs and learning objectives” (Cunningsworth. writers. so my main concern in this analysis will be to attempt an explanation on why is that happening and what. pp. This is a second year class in the General Lyceum of Chrisoupoli. Although there have been several attempts to create a model for determining what a learner needs to be taught like Munby’s Communicative Syllabus Design (1978) and van Ek’s Threshold Level (1975).) deem to be appropriate. interviews. 60-63).Introduction The aim of this essay is to explore the needs analysis basics by conducting one in a class I teach. (see Richards.148-153) and Seedhouse’s (1995.t. 55-56). pp. These decisions are not only based on what the “think tanks” of education (curriculum officers.1. e. They are taught general English and the course book used is at level B. teachers.t. 2001. Some of the means by which those opinions or trends can be obtained are questionnaires. observation.c. Aspects of Needs Analysis Theory Needs analysis has sprung out of the ESP classes (Manolopoulou-Sergi. Cunningsworth’s critique states that van Ek’ model is not “exhaustive” and is based on a rather ‘flimsy basis of information”. but they can also be drawn from what students or even prospective employers have to say (Richards. 2001. pp. 10-12-53-2-KLEANTHIDISIOANNIS-69540 5 . 152). While most of the students are quite competent in English.c. 2001. What follows is an explanation on why I chose the specific questions. But before all these I will try to offer a glimpse on some issues of needs analysis theory that guided me to this work. but it is still unable to provide us with a universal model that can automatically generate a syllabus content from a needs input (Cunningsworth. 1983. p. p. e. 1983.65) questionnaires. p. they lack motivation. an analysis and a discussion on the results.

p. 186). This argument entails that what students want or need from a general English course is not that important and that the important thing is just to pass the end of the year exam and get a good mark.Nunan’s work adopted a ‘bottom-up view of curriculum development’ by taking into account what learner’s had to say about the way they are being taught. pp. Its results might be even flimsier in General English courses. p.” They argue though that there is always “an identifiable need of some sort”. thus introducing the “Learner-Centered Approach” (1988a). 10-12-53-2-KLEANTHIDISIOANNIS-69540 6 .2). Although needs analysis might not be a perfect method. Brumfit suggests that even though we might not be able to identify the exact needs of a learner.53) says that the curriculum of English in secondary level is “based on what curriculum planners consider best for students to study at school in the same way that math. especially when the students’ own opinions are taken into account. Hutchinson and Waters (1987. it can offer guidelines and some useful insight when designing a curriculum or a syllabus. and that English is usually just “considered as an important part of a child’s education”. 59-60) also pinpoints that the real problem is how to interpret the data collected from a questionnaire and how to convert that data into materials to be used in class. p. 53-54) explanation of why needs analysis is not widely used in the EFL classroom is that a “tradition persists in General English that learners’ needs can’t be specified and as a result no attempt is usually made to discover learners’ true needs. There has been some controversy though over the subject of handing out needs analysis questionnaires to students of general English classrooms where the subject is compulsory as a part of a secondary education system curriculum. Richards (2001. Seedhouse (1995. history and physical education are included in the school curriculum”. pp. while Richards stresses that “needs analysis is fundamental to the planning of General English courses” (1990. we will be able to create a “needs profile” which can be used as “a way of measuring the syllabus against the necessary demands of the real world” (1979. nevertheless they can offer various threads to solving problems such as that of unmotivated high school students.

these same students have also been studying English for 6-9 years 10-12-53-2-KLEANTHIDISIOANNIS-69540 7 . e. D and E were bent on the wants or desires of students as far as the areas of English language (e. By using closed-type answers I sought for easily measurable results (Richards. Presentation and Discussion of Results The full results are on display in Appendix 2. In the first part the questions were chosen having in mind that I have to put to the test some of the beliefs that I had about student’s competency and qualifications in English as this would raise a serious discussion about the course book. 2001. p.t. but in private language institutions or with the help of a private tutor teaching English. Nevertheless.). 2. These endeavors are undertaken not within the formal schooling system.g. I administered it in Greek.Description and Rationale The questionnaire is divided in 6 parts.c. 2. p. or at least to get a taste of what students thought that it was their weak point. There were no middle answer alternatives. question 3) and have some diploma in English or preparing to sit exams for one (App. Questions 13 and 14 were open so I could get some personal opinions on why students were not motivated. The questionnaire was piloted in English but. Parts C. vocabulary. and thus making the analysis easier. Part B was designed in order to explore the student’s attitude towards the English language and it also left some room in the end for differed opinions. grammar.8. questions 4. due to many problems that students had in understanding what exactly they were being asked. so students would need to give a positive or negative statement.7.5. Their lack of motivation had also had to be officially checked. the thematology and the procedure of working in class. The last part is dedicated on uncovering students’ needs. The vast majority of students who come to this class have already been studying English for 8-9 years. 1.6.(App. In this section I will just concentrate on the findings that can offer solid ground for reaching some valid enough conclusion.9). I have to comment that I had no part in choosing the course book as the students had already bought it last year and we had to catch up from where they had stopped in the First Grade. 1. These parts dominate the questionnaire because the main aim was to find out what students would like to do in order to motivate them. p.60).

2. dance or even with a different foreign language (App. in the state school language system.within the formal school system. English taught at Lyceum still fails to motivate them. Not all of the students answered these questions. In part B students’ answers show that they feel very strongly about why they are learning English. 2 questions 13-14) which show why they feel unmotivated. p. For example: Positive To get a certificate in English To get a good job Need English at University To travel abroad To talk to foreigners To surf the net Because English is an important international language I don’t know why I am learning English Attitude 26 28 25 26 25 27 25 5 Negative Attitude 2 0 3 2 3 1 3 23 That shows that although students have many good reasons to learn and perfect their English. students are trained on how to pass exams while authentic communication is usually not highly regarded. something that explains the answers above. 2. students in their final exams are tested only on reading and writing skills. Moreover. The first one is that 24 students would prefer to get speaking exercise at school. Part C presents two points of focus. but some of the answers were surprisingly similar like: -It’s an easy lesson and it helps us to relax (15 students) -It’s boring because I have been studying English for too many years (6 students) -It’s boring because I already have a certificate (5 students) At this point we should mention that 79% of the students hold a certificate which is above the level of the course book taught at school. while speaking and listening skills are 10-12-53-2-KLEANTHIDISIOANNIS-69540 8 . 11-12). qs. music. something which can be explained by the way that students are being taught in both private institutions and at school. Because teaching English in private institutions in Greece is mainly exam oriented. It is also interesting to check some of the student’s “open answers” (App. This ‘double’ schooling raises serious motivational problems for the state English school teacher as more than half of the class does not consider that it is important to learn English at school and would prefer to replace the subject with something else like psychology.

The feedback that we can derive from the last group is already expected but important to be spelt out once again. I couldn’t avoid comparing the situation 10-12-53-2-KLEANTHIDISIOANNIS-69540 9 .84). Staging a play might be a bit far fetched. too. like Japan. The stress negative atmosphere of the English classroom should be viewed and treated as an advantage where a different kind of teaching can take place. Other than the class specific implications I would like to attempt some general ones as well. The result is students who are excellent in reading and writing skills but awfully timid in expressing themselves orally. In group D the most popular subjects are travelling (25 positive votes) and internet with cinema (22 positive votes). Teaching materials that utilize the internet. but it could provide excellent learning possibilities. Watanabe states that in some countries where “the government sets national standards or guidelines. it is noteworthy to know that most students dislike doing presentations and writing tests (23 negative votes). English at school do not seem to pose a challenge for students as most of them feel that nothing is too difficult to do in English. Games are always a way to success as well. On the other hand.completely neglected. would be useful. while the least popular theme is news (24 negative answers). Here 23 students would prefer to attend lessons as open discussions and there are no students who object to that. Travelling to an English speaking country or asking for native speakers to join and make any kind of presentations in class would certainly raise interest. apart from what I have previously discussed. 2006. supplementing it with more challenging communicative activities with themes taken from travelling guides and cinema would best fit this class. This consequence could very well be associated with the most favourite answer in E group. 19 students would hate to have just the teacher talking all the time. rather than as a disadvantage. Implications Although changing the course book might not be possible. especially online communication with foreign people through the medium of English. p. In group E. educational goals and standards are decided in a top-down manner and constrain text books and decision making in the school curriculum” (Watanabe. Working with movies and songs has already proved adequately popular and should be carried on.

(Watanabe. A large scale analysis on the dynamics between state school language teaching and private language institutions would be both enlightening and necessary. My experience though of being taught English for 6 years within the same educational system as a student and of teaching English for 10 years in similar classes all over Greece has led me to believe so. unless I have been mesmerized by the demon of self-fulfilling prophecies. Naturally. the dynamics of the classroom would change. On the other hand. 2006. Moreover. I was given the opportunity to test those beliefs in a class and I think that the results have not proven me misguided. p. if we think that most of the students already have a certificate in English and that the Greek school cannot offer an equivalent one. it is too obvious to argue that the above results. both of these curriculums seem to totally neglect the reality about foreign language learning in Greece which is desperately interwoven with the role of private language institutions.84). cannot be overgeneralised and say that they are valid for all the general lyceums in Greece. it was true that “learner’s voices have not been well attended to in language curriculum”. The state should acknowledge the reality and decide if school will be supplementary to such institutions. but this should be more closely linked with the school syllabus. it would not be unwise to argue that tests do not have any real use in the English classroom in lyceum. 2011) as well as the old one (Διαθεματικό Ενιαίο Πλαίσιο Προγραμμάτων Σπουδών) where I couldn’t find any reference to student’s beliefs about learning. 2300 Words References 10-12-53-2-KLEANTHIDISIOANNIS-69540 10 . and maybe that was a factor that took its toll on the much needed but desperately absent motivation of Greek students in the two last classes of the general lyceum. I had a close look at the new Greek national curriculum for foreign languages (Ενιαίο Πρόγραμμα Σπουδών-Ξένων Γλωσσών. Some steps have already been taken towards this direction with the creation of the ΚΠΓ (Κρατικό Πτυχίο Γλωσσομάθειας) which is a state administered language certificate. So. if students could obtain an official diploma through school teaching and school exams. In this light. taken from a B Class in a general Lyceum in northern Greece. but this is not the subject of this paper. or if it is going to render them obsolete.with the reality in the Greek Lyceum. In this paper.

System. In Brumfit and Johnson (eds. (2001). English for Specific Purposes.htm ΔΕΠΠΣ: http://www. A. ΕΠΣ-ΞΓ: http://rcel. “Communicative” language teaching: an educational perspective. Course Design and Evaluation. 11/2: 149-154. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. and Waters. & Spinthourakis. Vol. Brumfit. ‘Needs analysis and the general english classroom’ ELT Journal.C. Van Ek. J. 49/1: 59-65.a review of the state of the art’. The Language Teaching Matrix. The Learner Centered Curriculum. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1. Watanabe. Communicative Syllabus Design. Strasburg: Council of Europe. Munby. A.uoa. (2006). New York: Cambridge University Press. (1995). Oxford: Oxford University Press.C.) The Communicative Approach to Language Teaching.gr/xenesglosses/sps. E. J. J. Y. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.pi-schools. ‘Needs analysis . (1990). Seedhouse. (1987). J. In Ayakli C. 81 – 124. Manolopoulou – Sergi. 25/1: 83-163. Karavas. Patras: Hellenic Open University. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Curriculum Development in Language Teaching. E. (1975) The Threshold Level. Second Language Studies. (2004).enl.pdf 10-12-53-2-KLEANTHIDISIOANNIS-69540 11 . Hutchinson.gr/lessons/english/pdf/eniaio_lykeio. T. K. ‘Needs analysis’. (2004). ‘A needs analysis for a Japanese high school EFL general education curriculum’. (1988). C.Cunningsworth. A. Richards. Richards. D. J. (1983). Nunan. (1979). (1978). Manolopoulou – Sergi.

Appendices 10-12-53-2-KLEANTHIDISIOANNIS-69540 12 .

i Appendix 2………………………………………………………………. p..Appendix 1………………………………………………………………. v 10-12-53-2-KLEANTHIDISIOANNIS-69540 13 .. p.