IELTS Course Project

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Section 1 Context

The preparation course described herein is for Kurdish students who are sent to learn abroad. Lately, the Kurdistan regional government (based north of Iraq) established the Human Capacity Development Program (HCDP, scholarship) in Higher Education. This aims to develop the young generation in Kurdistan region in the field of higher education. Yearly, the Iraq government sends thousands of students abroad, and it has established an institution for the preparation of students to be familiar with the English language Exam (IELTS). The institution’s name is Academic General Training. Based at the capital city of Kurdistan (Erbil), there is a good atmosphere for learning; the classrooms are modern with a single chair for each student, a living room with comfortable sofa where students can take a rest during breaks. The fee payable is $350. There are weekly exams for skills such as reading, writing, listening, and speaking but at the end of the course, students have an exam very similar the IELTS exam. These are practice exams to help students familiarize with the main IELTS exam.

This course helps them to improve their English ability skills such as speaking, listening, writing, and reading, but with more focus on writing and speaking skills. Kurdish students have difficulties with these two skills more than other skills. They do not know how to write an academic essay and how to manage their time to write essay in the IELTS exam because in this exam time is limited. To be sent abroad, the students must achieve an undergraduate average grade point of not less than 65%, they should be employed, and have at least two years of working experience, IELTS score should not be less than 5 score in overall and each skill should not be less than 4.5. This may not be enough but with IELTS 5 the government provides at least six months English language or pre-seasonal courses for those students who are sent to study abroad. In each class, there are 15 students; major subjects include law, accounting, computer science, medicine, psychology, history, and English. Course length is four years at the university to achieve a bachelor’s degree. The class includes both males and females aged between 22-30 years of Kurdish nationality whose first language is Kurdish .The preparation course lasts for one month and runs three days a week. The program runs during the evenings from 5-6 because all the students have day jobs.

Section 2 Introduction

Curriculum defined

According to Stenhouse (1975), curriculum is defined as the desire to communicate the fundamental principles and features of an educational proposal in such a form that it is open to factual scrutiny and capable of effective translation. A curriculum ought to present a foundation for setting up a course, studying it empirically and allowing for the grounds of its validation. The Course and Syllabus Design approaches and models can be varied according to taste. According to Hargreaves (1989), a curriculum can also be described as a process or a, product or a program.

According to Johnson (2002), the second language curriculum a program is the full organized range of courses offered. Curriculum, being a second language in schools, universities and other language programs it is both the process of designing a program and its components. Moreover, it is also used in providing a document’ that provides the goals and overall specification of what is to be taught or learnt based on that process. As a product, curriculum can be described as a body of knowledge to be transmitted. On the other hand, as a process it is the communication of designers, instructors, leaners and knowledge (Johnson, 2002). For example, it entails what goes on in the classroom and all that needs to be done in order for that to happen (Graves, 2000). Designing language courses: A guide for teachers, Boston, MA: Heinle & Heinle describes the elements of curriculum design to include the many things that include environment or Situation analysis, Needs analysis, Articulation of beliefs/principles guiding teaching and learning. Elements of curriculum design are also reported to include formulation of goals, Syllabus design – content and sequencing, Materials design and implementation and Monitoring or assessment Evaluation (Graves, 2000).

This article attempts to analyze the element of needs analysis. The elements of language curriculum. Brown (1995) argues that Curriculum Design and Project Planning go hand in hand because most curricular models draw on general project planning and design models. These have traditionally more the domain of project managers and administrators Includes key stages of planning/designing, implementing and evaluating (Brown, 1995).

The role of principles/beliefs about learning

Anything that guides my understanding of and decisions regarding learning and teaching language can be based on own learning experience (Soriano, 1995). Conducting Needs Assessments: A Multidisciplinary Approach Soriano argues that classroom teaching experiences, experience of seeing children develop their knowledge gained from course, literature, or research.

The last two decades have seen tremendous changes in the way people’s communication levels are affected by language with many interests in languages many and many students and people alike are getting more and more interested in the language study. However, while these developments a have brought many benefits to the world, it can be argued that future interest I  English as a language is even becoming more interesting and will produce more  positive effects. As an onset, these developments have brought many benefits to the lives of many (Gergusan, 1996). The English Language has made communication, in particular overseas, simpler and faster, resulting in several benefits for commerce, education, and business. Furthermore, the World Wide Web means that many and many more students will benefit from online courses it is evident that this has made life far easier and more convenient for large numbers of students and people alike.

Needs analysis

Graves (2000) describes needs analysis as  “… a systematic and on-going process of gathering information about students’ needs and preferences, interpreting that information, and then  making course decisions based on the interpretation in order to meet the needs. Goals, aims and outcomes of need analysis are; to find out what language skills a learner needs in order to perform a particular role, such as sales manager, tour guide, or university student; to identify a change of direction that learners, teachers and other stakeholders feel is important; to identify a gap between what students are able to do and what they need to be able to do and to collect information about a particular problem learners are experiencing.

The three elements of C&SD are as outlined below

Needs, Wants and Lacks

students often find it hard to describe what language needs they have and are not able to

distinguish between needs, wants and lacks. It was Allwright (1982, cited in Lekatompessy ,

2010) who made a distinction between needs (the skills which a learner sees as being

relevant), wants (needs on which learners put a higher stake in the available, limited time ), and lacks (the distinction between the students present proficiency and the desired proficiency.

There is need to perform this  because it’s important to discover out what language skills a student needs in order to undertake a particular task. The need to help establish if an existing course satisfactorily addresses the language needs of future learners, and to establish which learners from a section are largely in need of instructions in a particular language.

The students have specific needs of living and working in an English speaking nation. And therefore to assist the students the teachers and instructors need to set a direction that is important. There is also the need to spot a gap between what the learners are able to do against what they need to be able to perform.overal the teachers need to be able to collect information regarding a particular problem learners are going through.

The students want to able to communicate effectively and be able to interact with peers, employers, fellow employees and the entire audience

The students lack an understanding in the basics of the English language they lack the grammatical applications of the language and they lack the principles that exist in the English language, lack of being able to express oneself confidently before others and also the lack of writing proper English Lack of linguistic information, technical vocabulary, lack of spelling power and lack of correct pronunciations.

 Section 3 Needs Analysis

The intent of Needs Analysis as regards Curriculum Development

Richards (2001) on his discussion toward needs analysis argues that the initial step in performing a needs analysis is to choose exactly what its intent or purposes are. fundamentally, needs analysis in language teaching may be used for a variety of different aims, e.g.:

  • To find determine what language skills a learner requires so as to undertake a particular task , such as a tour guide, or teacher.
  • To help establish if an existing course effectively satisfies the needs of probable Students
  • To establish which students from a group are most in need of training in a particular skill.
  • To spot a change of bearing that people in a reference group feel is significant
  • To identify a gap between what the learners are able to do and what they needs to be able to do
  • To gather information concerning a particular problem learners are experiencing (Richards), (2001)

Evaluating a needs analysis scheme

Need Analysis can be described as the practice of identifying and evaluating needs in a community or other defined population of people.  The identification of needs is a process of describing the problems of a target population and possible solutions to these problems.

Graves (2000) describes needs analysis as a systematic and on-going process of gathering information about students’ needs and preferences, interpreting that information, and then making course decisions based on the interpretation in order to meet the needs. I have identified a need in the Kurdish region where students have difficulty in English grammar and therefore are not able to communicate well.

Needs analysis models

The models as described in Nation & Macalister try to answer the following questions

(a)  The elements or questions in the NA models that map onto necessities, lacks, and wants

  • The elements that are more about environment
  • Any additional elements or questions not easily categorized into necessities, lacks or wants or environment, What they focus on and whether they are important
  • To what extent the content and focus of needs analysis is affected by access to/knowledge of the learners prior to syllabus design stage.

Needs analysis for the course

(a). Generating a list of questions or information required for needs analysis.

(b). Deciding where, when and from whom one will look to find the information.

(c). Listing at least three ways to gather the information for the course.

(d). Picking one item from the list and preparing some sample items and describing the procedure to be used to administer the needs analysis.

Role and process of need analysis include the following. It’s a dialogue between stakeholders i.e. the Teachers, administrators, students and parents its role depends on the participants understanding their roles in and the value of needs analysis it’s also the Process of reconciliation of differences i.e. the ‘perceived needs’ versus ‘felt needs’. The Role and Process undertaken is to decide what to gather and why, how to gather it, and where, when and from whom secondly, collect that is gathering information organizing, interpret the information, and thirdly Act, goals and syllabus design finally evaluate: how it did work. The Principles and Beliefs about language instruction and learning involve Aims i.e. to consider how our beliefs on language learning and training relate to Course and Syllabus design. To consider the range of principles and beliefs that can guide the decisions we make in the classroom, to develop your own set of principles to guide your course design project. The  beliefs and principles involve Anything that guides your understanding of and decisions regarding learning and teaching language can be based on own learning experience, classroom teaching experiences, experience of seeing children develop their L1, knowledge gained from course/ literature/ research.

There can be multiple ways of designing a course, implementing it in terms of syllabus,

teaching, materials and assessment the beliefs, whether well-articulated or not, influence the choices and decisions people make, and can help  to justify the decisions so the key is having confidence in the principles and using them to achieve success (Stern, 1983).

Needs analysis

A table presenting an analysis of the learner’s language-related needs (necessities, wants, lacks)

Type of need Focus Method Example
Necessities proficiency


situation of use


Proficiency testing

Self-report observation and analysis

Level of vocabulary knowledge
lacks proficiency Self-report testing Vocabulary tests
wants wishes




Records of choices of activities

Table 1: analysis of learner’s language related needs

A sample questionnaire designed to elicit information about the student’s opinion on various aspects of the English language.

Dear participant,

Thank you for agreeing to complete this questionnaire about language learning at this institution. My aim is to find out about the environmental constraints within which we learn, and consider how this might affect the design of other language modules. Your replies are very anonymous. Much thanks for your responses

By completing this questionnaire, you accept to be part of the study.

Please respond to the following questions.

Name __________________________ Date ______________________

1. Why do you need to learn more English? Please be specific. Give examples of situations that are difficult for you in English.

2. What specific areas of English would you like to improve before you leave this class?

3. When people speak English to you, how much do you understand? Check the amount.

___ Very little ___a little ___Most ___Everything ___Some

4. When watching programs on TV, Approximately how much do you comprehend?

___ Very little ___a little ___Most ___Everything ___Some

5. When using English, approximately how much of it do people comprehend?

___ Very little ___a little ___Most ___Everything ___Some

6. 1 to 6 Skills in order. Number 1 should be the most significant while number 6 should be the least one.  Use each number only once. 1__ Reading 2_ Writing 3_ Listening 4__Speaking 5_Vocabulary_ Pronunciation




Source: Marshall (2002).

Figure 2: questionnaire designed to elicit information about the student’s opinion on various aspects of the English language.

A table showing a need analysis


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