Critical English for Academic Purposes: Theory, Politics, and Practice

By Sarah Benesch | Go to book overview
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Chapter 7
Rights Analysis in a Paired EAP/Psychology Lecture Class9

The previous chapter offere d an example of a paired EAP writing/anthropology course in which students worked collectively to meet the limit-situations presented by abstract material and ambiguous assignment guidelines. Implied in that example was needs analysis, that is, discovering target demands. Also implied was rights analysis, keeping open the possibility of challenging unreasonable requirements and conditions (Benesch, 1999a). However, the focus here is more directly on the relationship between needs and rights analysis, to explore critical EAP's role in balancing target requirements and student dissent.

To frame this discussion, I briefly review changes in the EAP literature regarding needs analysis and then compare and problematize needs and rights analysis.


Needs analysis in EAP consists of gathering data about the target situation as the basis for designing EAP courses and materials. Whereas the definition of needs in the early years of ESP was limited to discrete linguistics items required by the target situation, affective and cognitive factors are now sometimes taken into account as well (Dudley-Evans & St. John, 1998; Hutchinson & Waters, 1987). Comprehensive needs analyses may therefore include not only target situation analysis but also learning-situation analysis and present-situation analysis—that is, what students know and do not know about the target subject (Dudley-Evans & St. John, 1998).

Building learning processes and students' prior knowledge into needs analysis is a welcome development. However, sociopolitical factors, such as

An earlier version of this chapter appeared as an article in English for Specific Purposes (Benesch, 1999b).


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Critical English for Academic Purposes: Theory, Politics, and Practice


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