Needs Analysis in ESP Context: Saudi Engineering Students as a Case Study

Hashem Ahmed Alsamadani


Needs analysis can be a vital asset for teachers of English for specific purposes (ESP) to identify their learners’ key requirements or needs and determine the areas in which they are lacking skills. Against this background, this study was undertaken during the academic year 2015-16 to define the English language needs of engineering students (N= 200) majoring in civil engineering and industrial engineering. The data of this study was collected from different sources, including a classroom observation protocol, a questionnaire, and a semi-structured interview with both ESP and subject-matter teachers (SM) at Umm Al-Qura University. Results of the data analysis offered significant insights as to the teaching of ESP course. The study revealed that receptive skills (i.e., reading and listening) were mostly focused on in ESP classes. It has been also reported that writing and reading along with speaking skills were needed more than others. The data analysis helped to determine the most important language tasks in the context of engineering studies. Finally, a call was being made by both ESP and SM teachers to enhance the quality of the ESP course taught to engineering students by offering relevant suggestions. Based on these findings, the present study concluded with implications for course designers and recommendations for future studies.


Needs Analysis, ESP, engineering students, English skills, course design

Full Text:



Al-Otibi, A, M. (1994). Identifying the English Communication Needs of Kuwaiti Student Soldiers at the Military Institute in Kuwait. Unpublished Ph.D thesis. UK: Cardiff University College.

Anderson, J.R. (1980). Cognitive Psychology and its Implications. San Francisco: W.H. Freeman.

Basturkmen, H. (1998). A Needs Analysis Project at Kuwait University. English Teaching Forum, 36(4). Retrieved September 10, 2007, from the World Wide Web:

Benesch, S. (2001). Critical English for Academic Purposes: Theory, Politics, and Practice. Mahwah / New Jersey: Lawrence ErlbaumAssociates, Publishers.

Bheiss, M. (1988). English for Nursing Purposes: the English LanguageNeeds at the Nursing School of Al-MakassedHospital (Jerusalem). Unpublished MED TESOL Dissertation. UK: University of Manchester.

Blue, G, (1991). Language Learning within Academic Constraints. In P. Adams, B. Heaton & P. Howarth (Eds.), Socio-cultural Issues in English for Academic Purposes (pp. 100-116). London: Macmillan.

Brindley, G. (1989). The Role of Needs Analysis in Adult ESL Programme Design. In R. Johnson (Ed.), The Second Language Curriculum (pp. 43-78). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Chamot, A. (2007). Accelerating Academic Achievement of English LanguageLearners: A Synthesis of Five Evaluations of the CALLA Model. In J. Cummins& C. Davison (Eds.), International Handbook of English LanguageTeaching (pp. 85-104). LLC: Springer Sciences and Business Media.

Carkin, S. (2005). English for Academic Purposes. In E. Hinkel (Ed.), Handbook of Research in Second LanguageTeaching and Learning (pp. 85-98). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Cowling, D. (2007). Needs Analysis: Planning a Syllabus for a Series of Intensive Workplace Courses at a Leading Japanese Company. English for SpecificPurposes, 26, 426–442.

Dudley-Evans, T. & St John, M. (1998). Developments in English for SpecificPurposes: A Multi- DisciplinaryApproach. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Gumperz, J. J., &Berenz, N. B. (1993). TranscribingConversationalExchanges . In J. A. Edwards & D. L. Martin (Eds.), Talking Data: Transcription and Coding in Discourse Research (pp. 91-121). Hillsdale/NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Hutchinson, T., & Waters, A. (1987). English for SpecificPurposes: A Learning CentredApproach. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Javid, C. Z. (2011). EMP Needs of MedicalUndergraduates in a Saudi Context. Kashmir Journal of Language Research, 14, 89-110.

Jordan, R. R. (1997). English for Academic Purposes: A Guide and Resource Book for Teachers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Labassi, T. (2009). Reading Titles of Empirical Research Papers. Reading Matrix, 9, 166- 174.

Mudraya, O. (2006). Engineering English: A Lexical FrequencyInstructional Mode. English for SpecificPurposes, 25, 235-256.

Munby, J. (1978). Communicative Syllabus Design: A Sociolinguistic Model for Defining the Content of Purpose-SpecificLanguage Programmes. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Nation, P. (2000). Designing and Improving a Language Course. Forum, 38, 2.

Nuan, D. (1988). The Learner-Centred Curriculum. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Oppenheim, A. (1992). Questionnaire Design, Interviewing and Attitude Measurement. London: Pinter.

Orwin, R.G. (1994). Evaluating Coding Decisions. In H. Cooper & L.V. Hedges (Eds.), The Handbook of Research Synthesis (pp. 139–162). New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

Rais, N. (2007). Needsanalysis for a Business English Course at the Institut Supérieur de Gestion (Unpublished master’s thesis). Institut Supérieur des Langues de Tunis.

Reimer, M. J. (2002). English and Communication Skills for the Global Engineer. Global J. of Engng. Educ, 6, 91-100.

Shaw, P. (1982). Ad hoc Needs Analysis. LanguageTeaching, 27, 1-19.

Swales, J. (1985). Episodes in ESP. Oxford: Pergamon Institute of English.

Taillefer, G. (2007). The ProfessionalLanguageNeeds of EconomicGraduates: Assessment and Perception for French Context. English for SpecificPurposes, 26, 135-155.

Rizk, S. (2006). ESP for Business Students: A New Approach. In: M. S. Lahlu, and A. Richardson (Eds.), English for SpecificPurposes in the Arab World (pp. 95-108), TESOL Arabia. Dubai.

West, R. (1994). Needs Analysis in LanguageTeaching. LanguageTeaching, 27, 15–49.

West, R. (1997). Needs Analysis: A State of the Art. In R. Howard & G. Brown (Eds.), Teacher Education for LSP (pp. 24-95). Colchester: MultilingualMatters.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

2010-2020 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD.

Advances in Language and Literary Studies

You may require to add the '' domain to your e-mail 'safe list’ If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox'. Otherwise, you may check your 'Spam mail' or 'junk mail' folders.