Chapter 2. The need for needs analysis in technology-mediated TBLT
Needs analysis (NA) is an important component of any well-developed language curriculum and an essential component of a task-based language curriculum (Long & Crookes 1993; Long & Norris 2000). It is actually “the first stage in the design of a TBLT program” (Long 2007, p. 124). In this chapter, the tasks that make up such a program are understood in real-world terms, as something that the “learners need to do with the language” (Norris 2009, p. 578) in order to function in a certain situation which is based on authentic needs (Long & Norris 2000). It is through a NA that the tasks to be included in the program are identified, as well as the language needed to be able to conduct them effectively and appropriately. In a technology-mediated TBLT program, the NA should address not just the language necessities (linguistic and pragmatic) to complete the tasks, but also the informational and multimodal digital skills needed to effectively engage with the technology. In addition, a NA should help us gather information about what innovations and technological tools are most appropriate for the curriculum, as well as inform us about the necessary training for students and teachers to be able to use them successfully. Although NAs have been reported in the literature in the field of language teaching since the early 1980s, they are not yet a systematic practice in language educational curriculum development. This chapter defends the importance of such a practice, especially for technology-mediated language teaching. It presents the steps necessary to conduct a well-balanced, reliable NA for a technology-mediated TBLT program that would target not only the language needs and wants of students, teachers, and administrators, but also their multimodal, digital and informational needs. The chapter includes examples of several NAs conducted for task-based technology curricula and discusses the possible challenges of conducting such NAs.