Thursday, May 24, 2012

Using Needs Assessments in the ESL classroom

Here is another guest blog post from the English Skills Learning Center (ESLC) about using needs assessments in the ESL classroom. (Read another guest blog post from the ESLC about using repetition in the classroom here, or interactive activities here.)

When was the last time that you asked your students what they want to learn? Conducting a needs assessment, or asking students what they want to learn, is essential because adult students who feel they are not learning what they need to know in English class are more likely to stop attending class than to express their discontent. On the other hand, students who feel that they have a say in what they are learning are more likely to attend class regularly and to participate in class.
                There are a few ways you can effectively use a needs assessment::
  • Students point to or circle the picture of the subject about which they most want to learn.
  • Students circle more than one picture and then rank their preferences. If you are teaching a class, you could then share the results with the entire the class so that they understand that decisions about the curriculum are based on their feedback. 
  •  Do a “vote with your feet” activity in which you post pictures of ESL topics or the four language skills on the walls of your classroom and then invite the students to stand by the topic or language skill that they most want to work on.
The ESL Center recommends that you conduct needs assessments on a regular basis. This could be when a new student joins the class, when you finish a unit or chapter in your lesson material, or when you receive new testing results. You will find that as you begin to make needs assessments a part of your classes that students will share their personal English-language goals with you. As you teach students the English they need to accomplish those goals, you will share in the students’ excitement as they succeed in accomplishing their goals!

For more information about Needs Assessments, please visit:

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