Globalization has made it possible for many people to
find their academic and job opportunities overseas. Those
people have to learn English which is an international language to communicate
with others and to be successful in their jobs. As
a result, learning English is considered to be a must for lots of people. But as English teachers what is of
concern to us is that teaching and learning English must be in line with the
specific needs of those people. Here, the
significance of English for Specific Purposes (ESP) becomes highlighted. Richards and Schmidt
(2010) define ESP as “the role of English in a language course or program of
instruction in which the content and aims of the course are fixed by the
specific needs of a particular group of learners” (p. 198).
According to Dudley-Evans and St John (1998), ESP is considered
to be a sub-category of English language teaching (ELT) and it has its own methodologies
which are influenced by the course content.
Saragih (2014) suggests that ESP courses aim to meet “the needs
of adult learners who need to learn a foreign language for use in their
specific fields; such as science, leisure, medicine, economics, technology and
academic learning” (p.60).
(1991; cited in Dudley-Evans & St John, 1998) divides ESP into two main
categories: English for Academic Purposes (EAP) and English for Occupational
Purposes (EOP). Dudley-Evans and St John (1998)
clarify the two terms stating that EAP is “any English teaching that relates to
a study purpose” (p.34), while EOP “refers to English that is not for academic
purposes; it includes professional purposes in administration, medicine, law
and business, and vocational purposes for non-professionals in work or pre-work
focus of this study is on EAP in nursing field.
The importance of learning English for nursing students relies on
the demands of their future career. For
example, many nurses may aim to join Doctors without Borders Doctors or Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)
projects in which they have to be communicatively competent in English so as to
deliver emergency aid to afflicted people. In another example, Gass (2012) states that
due to an increase in the numbers of medical tourists in Thailand, nurses are
required to have a remarkably good command of English to be able to
communicate with the patients. He
emphasizes that “nurses must have the ability to communicate effectively with
them and to deal with different situations that might arise” (p.2).
Since ESP courses
are developed to serve learners with particular and certain needs, the process
of needs analysis is a crucial step which has to be taken to detect their
needs. Brown (1995; cited in Saragih, 2014) defines
needs analysis as “the systematic collection and analysis of all subjective and
objective information necessary to define and validate defensible curriculum
purposes that satisfy the language learning requirements of students within the
context of particular institutions that influence the learning and teaching
situation” (p.61). As Dudley-Evans and St John (1998)
argue, needs refer to the reasons why learners are learning another language
which may vary from their purposes of learning such as continuing academic
studies or of participating in business meetings or conducting research in
English-speaking countries. Hutchinson and
Waters (1987) claim, needs analysis enables us to prioritize students needs and
make the ESP course more effective, useful, relevant and motivating for them.
analysis is the basis for ESP curriculum design.
According to Gardner and Winslow (1983; cited in Gass, 2012), the
purpose of conducting a needs analysis is “to produce information which when
acted upon makes courses better adapted to students’ needs” and “part of the
object of formal needs identification is to back up one’s proposals with
quantitative evidence of their importance” (p.4).
Similarly, Nation and Macalister (2010) make a distinction
between present knowledge and required knowledge.
They believe that there is a difference between students’ existing
knowledge of language (present knowledge) and what they are required to know to
be able to perform in the ultimate situation (required knowledge) and the
purpose of needs analysis is to help us design a curriculum that is able to bridge
the gap between students’ present knowledge and their required knowledge.
purpose of this paper is to carry out a needs analysis in order to recognize
nursing students’ needs to meet their academic needs.
As Dudley-Evans and St John (1998) suggest, in ESP courses there is
a practical and immediate need for the learners which is supposed to be met at
the end of the course. Thus, if we are
going to educate proficient nurses it is essential to design a useful and
effective curriculum which itself relies on conducting a well-established
procedure of needs analysis.
for Specific Purposes (ESP)
Although the idea of language for specific purposes has
been commenced for a long time, it was in 1960s that ESP was introduced as an
independent discipline (Dudley-Evans and St John, 1998). According to Hutchinson and Waters (1987),
there are two historical grounds that led to the development of ESP. First, During
the 1950s and the 1960s there was a large worldwide growth in commerce and
technology. This post-war property boom demanded
an international language to connect financiers all around the world. Due to the economic power of the
United States and many other factors, English was accepted as the international
language. As a result, the number of people who
wanted to learn English increased day by day.
Although previously the knowledge of a foreign language was
considered to be a sign of educatedness and social prestige, at the time of
post-war economic prosperity people had found more reasons to learn it. For example, there were huge numbers
of “businessmen and -women who wanted to sell their products, mechanics who had
to read instruction manuals, doctors who needed to keep up with developments in
their field and a whole range of students whose course of study included
textbooks and journals only available in English” (Hutchinson & Waters,
1987, p.6). As English became the language of
commerce and technology, English learners found reasons and justifications for
the learning of this language. Therefore, the
learners of this era felt a significant need for leading English and they also
knew the reason why they need it. The second reason
that gave rise to the development of ESP was “the oil crisis of the early 1970s
resulted in Western money and knowledge flowing into the oil-rich countries”
(Hutchinson & Waters, 1987; cited in Gass, 2012, p.3).
these changes shifted the goal of learning English from leisure to a purposeful
activity and ” the traditional leisurely and purpose-free stroll through the
landscape of English language seemed no longer appropriate in the harsher
realities of the market place” (Hutchinson & Waters, p.7).
As Nation and Macalister (2011)
suggest, principles, environment and needs analysis are three elements that
provide the theoretical and practical basis of the course production procedure. By principles thy mean the application
of theoretical and research-based guidelines which help us design a successful
curriculum. The second element which is
environment analysis implies that before designing a curriculum we should go
through the capabilities of the students and teachers, and examine the
properties and limitations of the teaching and learning context either to omit
them or work within them. The final element
is needs analysis that is defined by different theoreticians in almost similar
ways. For instance, Dudley-Evans and St John
(1998) define needs analysis as “the process of
establishing the what and how of a course” (p.121). In
addition, Witkin and Altschuld (1995; cited in Spector & Yuen, 2016) define
needs analysis as “a systematic set of procedures undertaken for the purpose of
setting priorities and making decisions about programs or organizational
improvement and resource allocation”
(p.51). Hutchinson and Waters (1987)
give a more comprehensive description of needs analysis which creates the basis
of the present study. They believe it to be consisting of
three parts: necessities, lacks and wants.
Necessities refer to “the type of need determined by the demands
of the target situation; that is, what the learner has to know in order to
function effectively in the target situation” (p.55).
By lacks and wants they mean what students do not know and what
they wish to know respectively.
collected information from the needs- and environmental analyses come into
practice in the curriculum development stage. As
Nation and Macalister (2010) suggest, needs analysis has been carried out so as
to provide “a realistic list of language, ideas or skill items, as a result of
considering the present proficiency, future needs and wants of the learners”
There are few guidelines in
literature that describe how to design ESP courses.
However, Taba (1962; cited in Saragih, 2014) suggests seven steps
for developing a curriculum: detection of the needs, specification of
objectives, selection of content, organization of content, selection of
learning experiences, organization of learning experiences and determination of
the content and medium of evaluation. In a similar
attempt, Grave (2000) introduces five components for designing a language
course; “setting objectives based on some form of assessment; determining
content, materials, and method; and evaluation” (p.3). As
Graves (2000, p.9) mentions “designing a language course is a work in progress
in its whole, in its parts, and in its implementation.” It can be inferred that
designing a course, whether ESP or General English, is a dynamic process. As
Gass (2012) suggests, it begins with basic processes of needs- and situational
analyses, going on the curriculum development, material preparation and finally
modification of the course on the basis of feedback and evaluation.