English language needs assessment of the students of the Medical Faculty of Cumhuriyet University
Kıymazarslan Alagözlü, Nuray
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Needs assessment contributes to curriculum planning and helps teachers and syllabus designers offer more efficient services to students. Needs assessment is a very important basis for determining objectives of the curriculum and organizing its content. It is also a strategy by which problems can be focused on and recommendations concerning those problems can be made (Selvadurai & Krashinsky, 1989). English for Specific Purposes (ESP) is one of the educational areas which most benefits from needs assessment. Because ESP views the learner as central to the learning and teaching process, it takes learners' needs as a starting point in teaching language. The main concern of the study was to reveal the English language needs of fourth year medical students at the Faculty of Medicine of Cumhuriyet University. Student-perceived English language needs, teachers' perceptions of their students' needs, and perceptions of students' needs according to the administrators were investigated. Data were collected through questionnaires and interviews, and the perceptions of these people were compared. The four major results of this study were as follows: First, reading and translation are the most required language skills for medical students because of the large proportion of medicine-related readings available only in English. Both medical students and language teachers agreed that medical terminology should be taught and that understanding reading passages in detail is the most important reading subskill. These suggest that medical students need to be taught reading strategies along with medical terminology. Second, the instructional materials are not suitable, which implies a revision of instructional materials in use. Third, a need for inservice training in teaching ESP was revealed. A great number of students and language teachers concur that language teachers who teach ESP are competent in general English, but not in medical English. Finally, it was seen that the focus in English language classes and the perceived needs of the students by medical students, language teachers, and administrators do not match. Thus, medical students' needs are not being fully met by the present curriculum. Based on these results, recommendations were made as to what elements of the present curriculum should be changed and what a new curriculum should include.