The Utility of Needs Analysis for Nondomain Expert Instructors in Designing Task-Based Spanish for the Professions Curricula

By Serafini, Ellen J.; Torres, Julio | Foreign Language Annals, Fall 2015 | Go to article overview

The Utility of Needs Analysis for Nondomain Expert Instructors in Designing Task-Based Spanish for the Professions Curricula


Serafini, Ellen J., Torres, Julio, Foreign Language Annals


Introduction

Across the United States and globally, university language departments have experienced rising student demand for specialized instruction that serves learners' real-world needs in specificprofessional contexts like business and health care (Upton & O'Connor, 2013). To meet this demand, language for specificpurposes (LSP) courses have been increasingly incorporated into existing curricula, particularly English for specific purposes (ESP) courses, and the demand for such specialized language and cultural instruction has steadily grown in a number of more- and less-commonly taught foreign languages as well, most notably Spanish (Long & Uscinski, 2012; Sanchez-Lopez, 2010, 2013).

Whereas the field of ESP has a longstanding tradition of identifying learners' communicative needs to inform curricular design (Basturkmen, 2002; Brown, 2009; Hutchison & Waters, 1987; Hyland, 2009), the subdiscipline of Spanish for specific purposes (SSP) remains largely praxisoriented and lacks a strong research base that is grounded in theory, a gap that Klee (2015) argued is linked to a lack of graduate programs in the United States that prepare faculty to teach and conduct research on LSP/SSP (p. 193). In addition, while course development desirably allows for a certain level of autonomy and collaboration among faculty members (Wang & Zhang, 2014), it also presents real challenges given that most language faculty are not experts in such specialized domains and thus are not likely to know what realworld tasks their students need to be able to accomplish in the target profession. In light of this reality, more theoretically and methodologically sound research in SSP is sorely needed, not only to improve language educators' understanding of and approach to designing LSP courses in general, but also to aid practitioners who increasingly find themselves in the position of designing syllabi, pedagogical materials, and target assessment outcomes for specialized courses.

One way to specify the knowledge and skills that students need in order to participate effectively in local and global business contexts is by adopting a task-based language teaching (TBLT) approach to curricular development, instruction, and evaluation (e.g., Long, 1985, 2005a, 2015; Norris, 2009; Van den Branden, 2006; Van den Branden, Bygate, & Norris, 2009). Research that details the steps and outcomes of a task-based needs analysis can serve not only to increase communication between researchers and practitioners but also to refine instructors' understanding of task-based approaches to language teaching beyond what is commonly equated to "communicative activities" (Ogilvie & Dunn, 2010; Zheng & Borg, 2014). While task-based approaches have become more common, particularly in ESP research (e.g., Evans, 2013; Lambert, 2010) and recently in action-research studies looking at individual tasks (e.g., Calvert & Sheen, 2015), a review of studies in the area of SSP reveals few that implemented needs assessment following TBLT principles. The current study reports the results of a small-scale, multiphase needs analysis project in a business Spanish setting that yielded data on the perceived frequency and difficulty of 40 tasks that were suggested by domain experts in a variety of business settings. From these data, a final list of 14 core target tasks were selected and grouped into five core tasks that in turn informed curricular outcome goals and guided course organization and instruction.

Review of Literature

A Task-Based Approach to Needs Analysis

Rather than developing LSP materials around specific texts or text types, taskbased approaches to language teaching advocate for the use of task as the primary unit of organization and analysis in all phases of program building (Long, 1985, 2003, 2005a, 2005b, 2013, 2015; Norris, 2009; Skehan, 1998; Van den Branden, 2006; Van den Branden et al., 2009). It is important to note that the construct of task is compatible with both psycholinguistic and sociocultural perspectives on how adults learn additional languages as each task provides a unit around which to organize lessons and opportunities for language use and learning (Ellis, 2000). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

The Utility of Needs Analysis for Nondomain Expert Instructors in Designing Task-Based Spanish for the Professions Curricula
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.