Once the first section is more or less ready, get to the practical part – Needs Analysis (NA).
Some tips (from my experience):
- You need a student or a group to write about. Just choose one (if you have access to a few) you like most or (if, currently, you are not teaching) find someone who agrees to help you.
You should like these people as you will have to keep them in mind up to the last page of the assignment.
- Make sure that there is no contradiction between your specialism and the group. You can have the one and only student for NA only if your specialism is 1-2-1 or BusinessEnglish; in all other cases, you need a group. If you were writing about exams, your group should be preparing for the exam, if it’s ESP – it should match the group profile, if… you got the idea.
- Read the related section of the DELTA Handbook. Highlight key requirements. Open the DELTA Syllabus and find everything related to the NA section and highlight it too. This is your starting point and the roadmap through the section.
- Basically, NA consists of two parts: the NA itself (about Ss’ expectations, priorities, wishes) and the diagnostic testing which will check the language level right before the course starts. Both parts plus group description, some references and theory, your methods, conclusions and course priorities should be squeezed into 900 words. It won’t be easy; luckily, for this section, you can (and have to) use appendices. In the appendices, you put the samples of NA, testing, their results and your analysis of them.
- I believe that this section is the key to the whole assignment because whatever conclusion you got from NA, you will have to build the rest of the work based on them. Wrong assumptions, poor choice of the pieces of crucial information will lead to not clear course priorities that, in the next section, will make it problematic to come up with the course objectives, on which you will build the course and assessment. Keep this in mind and make enough time to do this part properly and without hurry.
- Think critically. Don’t overestimate your abilities in analysing and the word count. For each step, you will have to prioritise what is the most important to check and how.
You will start with NA so you need to come up with certain questions. Double-check if the answers make any impact on the course and if you really need to know all of that. For example, don’t ask “why do you take English classes?” if the course is obligatory. make the questionnaire (NA interview) realistic in terms of time and common sense. If you have 25 students, you won’t be able to do 1-2-1 interviews fifteen minutes each even if its a perfect way to learn your students better. Don’t give loooong questionnaires with those choices “always-sometimes-rarely-never” with fifty questions, esp to a totally new group or to teenagers. It’s boring and people will try to look better than they are so the ticks may appear randomly or not honestly.
It may be a good idea to talk to other stakeholders or people involved – parents, management, business partners, the head of your department etc. Those people, whose decisions (or money) make the course happen.
- When you get the NA results analysed, think about the diagnostic test. Again, it should be realistic (you cannot give the whole IELTS past-paper at the first lesson to see what’s going on – it’s too much) and somehow meet the results of the NA.
If you have a group, you need to analyse all works, put one sample in the appendix, but the analysis and results should include all works and main strengths and weaknesses. If you want to check speaking, you need to attach a script of the dialogue or whatever else you did. You need to be able to give clear reasons why you did these very activities.
Remember, you cannot check everything but you should get a general idea of what are the strengths to support and build on and what are the weaknesses to build the course around.
- People like to use graphs and diagrams for a visual representation of the data. It’s ok, but don’t fall into a trap of adding graphs here and there just to have them. Often they are not necessary and the information can be easily expressed in a few lines. Plus in the body of the assignment diagrams may mess up the word count. If you can say things clearly or use a very straightforward table – go for it.
- The theory is difficult to weave in for this particular section but you need at least 5 references. First, read something from the book list, then start creating your own materials to have inspiration and see the process from different angles.
- When you are almost done with the section, read it once again and cut out all the details which add nothing particularly important. With the spare words you have now add more reasoning and explanations of your methods, materials and outcomes.
• Who is your specialist group? What are their main characteristics? (e.g. age, educational and language level, nationality, learning style(s), preferences, motivations, job)
• How did you identify the needs of your specialist group? For example: Did you use a questionnaire, interviews, examination results? Why did you select these methods?
• What form of diagnostic testing did you use and why?
• What were the results of the diagnostic test(s)? How did you use these in clarifying the learners’ needs and identifying language areas requiring attention? What aspects did you focus on and why?
• What priorities have you identified from the above?
BTW you’ve just finished reading 950 words which are already over the limit of the section. Just to show the scale.
PS Proofreading is crucial for all parts so it is not on the tips list.
PPS Find someone to read this part, just those 900 words without appendices. Answer their questions and write the unclear parts again in a better manner.