Sunday, May 11, 2008

Needs Assessment or "Wing It"

An anonymous reader writes:

Hi there, What are your suggestions on the initial assessment of new students? Do you have a particular type of assessment that you give students or do you "wing-it?"

Love you site -- what a resource!

My response:

Hi Reader,

As a starting point, I use a Needs Analysis form I've adapted from various other Needs Assessment forms I've run across in previous teaching jobs. I've hesitated to post it to my sites because I really do also wing it depending on the student, and I haven't edited the form I use to reflect this.

Since I usually work one-on-one with very advanced English language learners, they are usually able to articulate what it is they want to work on. Mostly, I listen to what they say and how they say it and then take notes on what I think needs to be improved. This helps me to be able to tell my potential student how I would proceed in working with them. If they want to work on their writing skills, I ask them to send me a writing sample before our first class, and I analyze that before we meet.

My first meeting with potential students is always free as I do a Needs Analysis to determine their strengths and challenges. It also gives us both a chance to decide if we would like to work together, with no obligation.

Another reason that it's important to have a "form" is that it lets potential students know that you're a professional. I've had numerous students comment on the fact that the process is very professional. They seem to appreciate this and want to work with me more.

Good luck,
Teaching ESL to Adults

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