Needs Analysis: The Major Difference of English for Specific Purposes from General English Course

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The major difference of ESP from GE (General English) is that it focuses solely on the particular needs of the students. In GE specific learning materials design is not always necessary as it is mostly predetermined by the school, government or other institution. In ESP it is the case that teachers themselves have to develop the whole course or at most– the materials (Hutchinson and Waters, 1987). Nevertheless, ‘what distinguishes ESP from GE is not the existence of a need as such but rather an awareness of the need’ (ibid.: 53). Being aware of the students’ needs can have a great and positive influence both on the development of materials and on the teaching process itself.
Hutchinson and Waters claim that not the content of the specific sphere is the most relevant aspect in an ESP course, but the English language itself and the reasons and situations in which students are obliged to use it. Nonetheless, the interviews with the professor who teaches English for the glass and metal design, textile and ceramics students at the Art Academy of Latvia showed that in this institution both aspects are nearly equally important.
Different scholars have had different divisions of what is meant by needs and how can they be defined. Dudley-Evans and St John (1998: 123) offer a summary of various authors on this matter who distinguish the needs as follows:
• ‘Objective and subjective (Brindley, 1989: 65);
• Perceived and felt (Berwick, 1989: 55);
• Target situation/goal-oriented…