ELTABB Journal Volume 1 - Page 17

The key information any needs' analysis should provide is: (which in a group environment is impossible anyway), • ! • • • personal profile (Who) needs, wants and expectations (What) motivation(s) (Why) learning preferences/styles (How) It is best to collect this information over a series of lessons - by getting your students to interview each other, design their own questionnaires, compare and contrast experiences, etc. As a teacher, you can monitor and record, noting any relevant information provided by your students as they are engaged in communicative activities (for which they will also receive language-related feedback) - everybody wins! You can even get your students to design the course syllabus for you (if you have this kind of freedom). Why not run a pyramid activity: ask each student to think of five language and five topic areas that they want their course to cover. Put the students in pairs and ask each pair to agree on a combined list, and then do the same in fours or as a whole group. Make note of items that don't make the final list as these will also be relevant once you have covered the prioritised items. You will then know which students are taking the course because the want to (to travel, to study, for family reasons), which need to so that they can get ahead (for an exam or a job) and which need to because they have no choice (they risk losing their job or their parents force them to). Once you've got a degree of understanding of which students have intrinsic (a personal interest or enjoyment in learning English) or extrinsic (the potential reward for improved English is the main factor) motivations; which students have a predominantly visual, auditory, kinaesthetic or tactile way of learning; which students work best independently (field-independent) and which work best in small groups (field-dependent); and who is more logical and intellectual in their learning (left-brain dominated) as opposed to those who are more intuitive and subjective (right brain dominated), what do you do? In short, you offer variety: Key challenges for us are to move away from teaching according to our own learning styles and to enable learners to gain a better understanding of their own preferences. The idea is not to teach each student exclusively according to their preferences • • • • • • whole group, small group, pair and individual tasks pictures, graphics, timelines and realia projects, problem-solving and casestudies discussions, debates and role-plays video clips, recordings, music and poems gap-fills, matching, labelling and ordering activities collaborative and competitive activities and tasks but to aim for a blend of methods. If the right balance is struck, learners will be taught partly in a manner they prefer (leading to an increased willingness to learn), and partly in a less preferred manner, providing practic