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Vanessa Armand & Aarika Floyd Needs Assessment March 2, 2012 Assessing Needs of the 8th grade Chilean Student

The Online Questionnaire: The questionnaire (Appendix A) developed for this context is intended to serve as a needs assessment tool for students entering into their 8th year of elementary education in Chile‟s public school system. Chile‟s national curriculum has undergone drastic reforms (the most recent of which being implemented in the past two years) resulting in a highly communicative and highly structured language teaching classroom approach. This needs assessment tool takes into account the highly structured nature of this curriculum, which grants students and teachers minimal control in choosing course content. Instead, it attempts to identify the specific elements of the chosen themes that students would prefer to study, as well as to better identify students‟ preferred learning styles. The poll will be administered in Spanish in accordance with a needs assessment study performed by Liu et al. (2011) which concluded that it is necessary for understanding that the survey be in the native language in light of students‟ lower level ability in English. We also feel that by providing the survey in the students‟ L1, their confidence is at a higher level for its usage, which allows for higher reliability in their responses. The first three questions are used to identify the survey taker, have the student‟s birth date for celebrations in class, and to have an email address for electronic correspondence. The use of technology in the classroom has become an integral element in the implementation of the new curriculum in Chile; therefore, using electronic correspondence with the student and parents is promoted by the school administration. This method is also part of nation-wide

environmental awareness to cut out the usage of paper to help the environment. Question 4 is a

ranking question used to assess how enjoyable students find certain input activities in hopes to provide more authentic input in the mediums that students find most enjoyable. Questions 5 through 7 are matrix questions meant to assess the students‟ likes, dislikes, and how useful they feel certain activities are for their learning as well. The use of descriptive adjectives in place of simple like/dislike scale is designed to elicit more precise data in terms of students‟ feelings about the activities. Question 5 is meant to find how students like to complete class activities (groups, pairs, individually). Questions 6 and 7 ask more about productive skills-based tasks (production activities) in contrast to question 4 that elicits responses about receptive skills-based tasks (input activities) for students. Knowing that the Ministry of Education sets up our curriculum, they allow teachers to use the assigned textbook, but also to freely create their own lessons and forms of assessment. By informing the students of the mandatory themes they will be taught throughout the year (questions 8 and 9), these questions hope activate schema and to provoke the responses of what students wish to learn about the given topics. For example, if the student chooses to talk about „famous people & places,‟ there are endless famous people and places in the world, but here the teacher can elicit who or where students want to learn more and teachers can add this information into lessons. Finally, question 10 is for any additional comments by students about the upcoming year in English class. Following assumptions about assessment (Brown, H.D, 2010, Carr, N., 2011), the sequence of questions in the survey is meant to go from easier to more critical thinking on the student‟s part to answer the responses. Overall, the purpose of this survey needs assessment is to provide the teachers with information directly from students about their preferred means of acquiring input, as well as their

opinions about production both in the classroom and in the real world, and to develop the curriculum activities in lieu of the student‟s interests.

Pen-Pal Activity Strand & Guided Reflections In keeping with the Chilean Ministry of Education‟s approach to English as a key to cross-cultural communication, as well as the integration of CALL in Chilean schools, our classroom-based activity serving as needs analysis is a weekly pen-pal activity conducted through email, and is coupled with guided, bi-weekly student reflections. The pen-pal interaction will promote real world written language use, whereas the guided reflections will serve to inform the instructor as to how well students are retaining and recycling vocabulary and grammar from the lessons. Each written reflection will highlight specific grammar point(s) covered in the prior six class sessions, and will seek to recycle elements of other lessons. The reflection is bi-weekly/after 6 hours of instruction. Students are prompted to use their cultural exchanges with their pen-pals as the basis for completing the given written task. In drawing these activities together, we hope to promote intercultural sensitivity, self-reflection, inspire implicit language learning and practice, and give students opportunities to test out language hypotheses outside of the classroom. The pen-pal activity would ideally be conducted via email and in partnership with an Anglophone school. However, after considering the low-level abilities of the learners in this context, we determined that a partnership with a school in a different region of Chile would be more advantageous. In this way, students are granted the comfort of communication with students of their own proficiency level and who are studying the same themes at the same time. The student exchanges will not be directly overseen by the teacher, but rather through the

integration of material from the pen-pal exchanges. Students will be held accountable for pen-pal communication by way of editing tasks that make use of pen-pal responses. In these tasks, the students personally select pen-pal exchanges to edit. The rationale behind this approach is the following: we are promoting the free exchange ideas between pen-pals (free of fear of observation and assessment), as well as creating implicit learning opportunities related to target forms. These two activities, beginning in the second semester, are designed to coincide with course content themes that discuss life and culture in other countries. The choice to incorporate these activities in the second semester instead of the first was made on the rationale that the students need the first semester to solidify skills for performing extended writing tasks. The sample prompt provided in this paper (Appendix B) is designed to supplement Unit 3 (subject focus: Different Lives). The grammar focus here is the use of comparatives/superlatives, with an additional component of conditional sentences in the present simple. This task also requires students to recycle vocabulary from Units 1 and 2, as well as frequency adverbs learned in Unit 1 (Appendix C). In order to respond to potential affective factors, such as communication breakdown or absence, 10 minutes of class time will be dedicated to class discussion and student feedback about how the pen-pal activity. The goal is to determine how conversations are flowing and how students feel about their pen-pals (what they are like, what they write, how that affects our students). In the event of communication absence or difficulty, the teacher would contact the partner teacher directly to resolve the issue.

Conclusion The purpose of these needs assessment tools is to provide the teacher with some ways in which they can mold their highly structured course to fit the needs and wants of their students, thus making class activities more personalized and enjoyable for learners. In doing so, we hope to inspire more autonomy in learners and to spark their curiosity and desire to use English on their own in the real world.

References Brown, H. (2010). Language assessment: principles and classroom practices. White Plains, NY: Pearson Education. Carr, N. (2011). Designing and analyzing language tests. Oxford New York: Oxford University Press. Graves, Kathleen. (2000). Designing Language Courses. Heinle & Heinle. Liu, J.-Y., Chang, Y.-J., Yang, F.-Y., Sun, Y.-C. (2011). Is what I need what I want? Reconceptualising college students‟ needs in English courses for general and specific/academic purposes. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 10 (4): 271-280.

Appendix A: Student Questionnaire Student Survey can be found at http://www.polldaddy.com/aarika 1. Please enter your name. 2. Please enter your birth date. 3. Please enter your email address or email address of your parents. 4. Rank the following activities from MOST enjoyable to LEAST enjoyable:  Reading books in English  Reading newspapers & magazines in English  Looking at websites in English  Watching movies & TV shows in English  Listening to songs in English  Looking at Twitter, Tuenti, Facebook, and/or blogs in English  Listening to radio shows in English

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Fun Interesting Useful Working on projects with a group Performing a dialogue with a partner Working on homework by myself Playing competitive games Working on tests in groups Role-playing activities in a group Doing in-class assignments with a partner Not Boring Challenging Frustrating Useful

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Fun Interesting Useful Writing letters or postcards to someone Writing a story Completing workbook activities Making songs or poems Using Twitter, Tuenti, Facebook, and/or blogs Keeping a journal Translating a family recipe Not Boring Challenging Frustrating Useful

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Fun Interesting Useful Talking to your friends Performing songs or poems Watching TV shows or movies and talking about them Having conversations Having a debate Making videos with a partner or a group Singing Karaoke Not Useful Boring Challenging Frustrating

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8. The first semester we will be studying these topics: “Famous People & Places” and “Addictions & Self-Care”. Please write what you would like to learn based on what you may already know or what you find interesting. 9. The second semester we will be studying these topics: “Life in other Countries & Communities”, and “Traditions, Popular Music, & Literature in other Countries”. Please write what you would like to learn based on what you may already know or what you find interesting. 10. Your comments or questions: Appendix B Unit 3: Different Lives Reflection Prompt: Describe a festival from the unit (or one of your choice) that you are interested in. This can be a festival that you celebrate or a festival that you would like to celebrate. How is it the same and how is it different from the festival that your partner shared with you? Write 6 sentences. Please use 2 conditional sentences, 2 superlatives (best) or comparatives (better), and don‟t forget our friends, the frequency adverbs (ex. usually, never)!

Appendix C THIS CHAPTER - VOCAB/GRAMMAR Unit PREVIOUS CHAPTERS 3 Unit 1

We focus on: Unit Superlatives/Comparatives: beautiful/more beautiful/most beautiful, happy/happier/happiest, big/bigger/biggest, good/better/best, far/further/furthest, … Conditional: (maybe just present conditionals) -If/when I go to the festival, I [always] eat... -I [usually] go to the festival if/when it is in my town. And recycle: adverbs of frequency: often, never, sometimes, usually, rarely, always, normally,... Simple Past: I saw..., I went... Present Perfect: I have seen... I have gone vocab related to traditional celebrations, music, dance vocab related to feelings/moods

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