Needs analysis is for me central to a good IELTS course – no matter the length. Further down the page, you’ll find a downloadable version of my IELTS needs analysis sheet. Feel free to adapt it to your context. I adapt it to mine all the time.
Why an IELTS needs analysis
IELTS is a challenge to teach because it is a multi-entrance level test and a multi-exit level test. Students may start the process at low intermediate or even proficiency level, but they may end the process at high intermediate or proficiency level. Needs vary.
Take Alex and Alexandra. They may look the same, but in IELTS their needs are likely to be quite different. Alexandra may be very nearly there and just need a little tweaking in language and a solid introduction to IELTS exam skills. Alex by contrast is likely to need a programme where IELTS exam skills are minimised and language skills maximised.
Alex – entrance level good intermediate – wants 7.0
Alexandra – entrance level good intermediate – wants 5.5
This, for me, makes IELTS fun to teach – it really isn’t about doing the same thing over and again. I start from the position that what I do has to be tailored to the people in front of me – even in short courses – and for that some form of IELTS needs analysis is required.
What to analyse
My sheet falls into 3 main sections. It is really designed to lead into a first lesson – to be something that is discussed with the student so that you can build a course appropriate for that student. Clearly, this is harder with larger groups, but it is still possible.
IELTS needs and experience
This part I expect to be obvious. I think it is worth asking about previous experience as that may “interfere” with your teaching if the student has prepared or been prepared in a different way before.
Knowledge of IELTS
This part is simply designed to test how well the students understand the test. The questions relating to the writing and speaking scoring systems “catch out” even experienced candidates. My view is that all this is essential knowledge. Any “wrong” answers here help you build your course by explaining the criteria. It is possible to ask about the specific skills needed for listening and reading too, but I tend to avoid that at this stage – too much teacher language.
The questions here are designed to tease out what sort of language learner you are dealing with. They are also of course designed to raise awareness that IELTS is a language test and a degree of self-study will be required.
You might care to note the question about other teachers. This is a very practical point – different teachers approach different skills in different ways. Some candidates end up being sadly confused.
I’d add that I have included some spaces for candidates to write – it is not all tick box. Sometimes there is something to be learned from the language you see here.