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Business English, Professional English, Legal English, Medical English, Academic English etc.
Online peer-reviewed Journal for Teachers

English for Specific Purposes World (ESP World)

English for Specific Purposes World

ISSN 1682-3257

English for Specific Purposes World (ESP World) Home    Information   ESP Encyclopaedia    Resources    Contacts

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The study was carried out in the Spring Semester of the academic year 2001-2002 at Florina Pedagogical School.In examining the process of identifying reading skills, the study attempts to bring to highlight elements of the specific situation and as a result produce a more accurate and relevant identification of needs.

In the specific context, the needs of students with regard to reading skills fall within the category of necessities or goal oriented needs as they represent what students need to do with text during their course. However lacks also play a part in identifying the degree to which students are deficient in those necessities. Indeed the analysis, which is involved in this research, can be classified as a Target situation analysis as it involves the identification of reading strategies, skills needed by the students and the problems students encounter while reading at the end of their English language course.

4.1 The teaching situation

The context is a typical university setting where the medium of instruction and communication is not English but where students are required to read content course bibliographies in English. The English language is a core subject in the four semesters in the two Departments: a) Primary Education b) Early childhood Education. Students attend sessions for two hours per week and students sit for semester examinations in order to be tested in reading and writing skills. To help students increase both linguistic and academic skills, the course engaged them in a variety of reading and writing activities, which were designed to increase subject knowledge and, at the same time, develop English language skills. The EAP course would cater for helping EAP students to deal with authentic materials suitable for their specialization and providing them with the skills and strategies needed to meet their English reading requirements.

4.2 Participants

The participants of this study were all second semester undergraduate students of Educational Studies enrolled in EAP classes. A total of 172 students of the second semester of the two departments: a) primary education (92 students) and b) early childhood (80 students) of the Florina Pedagogical School responded to the questionnaire (table 2). Sixteen of them were male (9.3%) and 156 were female (90.7%) (table 1). They aged between 19 and 21 years .The proficiency level of the students lies between advanced (7.1%), high intermediate (34.3%), intermediate (51.5%) and basic (7.1%) in academic English.

4.3 Rationale the purpose of the study

The general purpose was to conduct a needs analysis, which includes the identification of the value of testing students reading strategies, beliefs and misapprehensions about reading, using an EAP context. Reading has been chosen as a focus for this study, since the students have to be acquainted with a range of academic texts, which involve a substantial amount of reading comprehension. The insights gained would help develop approaches to the teaching of reading academic texts and classroom activities, which would benefit the students in the next semesters.

With reference to the students, the study intended to analyze and describe:

o       Their level of English

o       Their reading needs

o       The ranking of their difficulties and problems in relation to reading skills

o       Their personal strategies used in academic reading; (cognitive and metacognitive strategies used in their reading. How and when do they use these strategies?)

4.4The Study Procedure

The writers worked through the following stages to plan and conduct the study:

                           i.            Identification and formulation of the research problem. The source of the problem came from literature review and from personal experience.

                         ii.            Formulation of the objectives

                        iii.            Selection of the instruments to be used and outline of the procedures of data collection. After selecting the questionnaire and interviews as tools, decisions were made about the format of the questionnaire and the type of interviews to be used (semi- structured interviews).

                       iv.            Identification of the sample of the students to be involved in the study. Randomization (Verma, 1999) was the strategy used to assign the second semester students in the research process. They selected this method because in random sampling, according to Brown (2001:72) each individual in the population must have an equal chance of being selected.

                         v.            Completion of a pilot study with a small group of subjects (15 students). This enabled the investigator to test the questionnaire.

                       vi.            Completion of research and data collection. The data obtained were processed and analysed, and conclusions were drawn.

4.5 Data collection instruments

To answer research questions quantitative data (Wallace, 2000) from student questionnaires as well as qualitative data (Wallace, 2000) from student interview were collected. The questionnaires were designed for the purpose of gaining further insights into the situation in the School. In designing the questionnaires, provision has been made to include questions of the open type and closed type. Closed form or restricted types of questions offer the respondent a choice of alternatives. The open form (unrestricted) type of questions, calling for a free response, provides greater depth of response. (Brown,2001; Verma,1999; Wallace:2000)

Semi-structured interviews were also used in order to complete the unfinished parts of the questionnaires, to clarify any misunderstanding. The interviews, which averaged 45 minutes each, were undertaken with 15 volunteer students and were carried out in groups of four students that could circumvent the time-consuming nature of individual interviews (Brown,2001:5), so that opinions or ideas could be brought forward by the interviewer and these could then be briefly discussed by the group and would enhance the responses already provided.

The writers prepared all these research tools after having consulted background literature (Brown, 2001; Hitchcock and Hughes, 1992; Seliger, 1997; Verma, 1999; Wallace,2000) on the design, preparation and administration of research tools.. These two instruments were used to gather data as we believe that using a variety of techniques provides a more valid and in depth view.

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