DESIGNING A NEEDS-BASED SYLLABUS FOR UNIVERSITY ENGLISH DEPARTMENTS IN BANGLADESH
This is a PhD research work.
Needs Analysis (NA) is an integral part of the curriculum development process in ESP and where English is used as a second language or a means of communication. In Bangladesh English is used as a targeted second language and in many professions English is a great means of communication. Thus university level students must develop a required amount of competence in English. Therefore, it is highly logical to analyze the needs orientation of the present courses of the English Departments at the universities of Bangladesh where students need competence in English for their academic betterment and to develop generic awareness of the tasks in their perceived professions. At the same time it is imperative that a needs-based syllabus bears consistency with theoretical underpinnings on one hand and the contextual factors on the other. This study has developed such a syllabus comparing the Profile of Needs in terms of tasks and skills and the status of them in the present syllabuses. Target Situation Analysis has unfolded which tasks and to what amount students need both in the academic area and the targeted professions.
In order to strengthen the study reliability, a well thought out methodology has been designed through in-depth literature review, expert participation and contextual consideration. Sample size has been determined considering the population and the research scope. For validity and reliability of research tools and collected data, careful preparation and participation of the relevant experts have been ensured. To assure the participation of all the stakeholders of teaching-learning, Needs Analysis in this study has used a number of methods and techniques. In everything from questionnaire to genre analysis, triangulation of NA methods has been used whose frameworks are first developed through analyzing the relevant literature. In this NA high gap has been found between the required level and the present level of competence in many important skills which students should develop.
At this stage the study touches another phenomenon i.e. making a model syllabus considering the preferences of the stakeholders and contextual variables to impart those skills effectively. The weaknesses of the situation e.g. a high lack of motivation of the students, less opportunity of English using environment, heterogeneous learning capacity and so on have posed huge challenges in the way of proposing a suitable model of syllabus. At this juncture the preferences of the relevant parties and the theories of language teaching have pushed the researcher to go for a Task-based approach integrated with skills focus.
Not only a framework of a needs-based syllabus has been presented, the study also illuminates the pedagogical methodology, materials, assessment system in line with the concepts of needs and constraints of the context. Along with this, the selected contents have been sequenced and graded as per the demands of the stakeholders and the relevant literature. Indeed the NA model and the syllabus model proposed and prepared here can be adapted in similar situations to prepare the learners for their short term academic need and long term professional need. Thus a Task-based Skills-focused syllabus has been found to have high a value to harmonize the findings of the Target Situation Analysis and the Present Situation Analysis.