Using questionnaires to identify your students’ needs and learning preferences

Young people today are dramatically different from the teenagers of a generation ago. Surrounded by sophisticated equipment and the latest gadgets, they expect the materials used in class to reflect their fast-moving world and, if they feel that a task or text is beneath their intellectual level, they immediately lose their interest. At the same time, because there is one dominant type of intelligence in every one of them, they tend to react better to different stimuli.

For the purpose of obtaining data about which methods are more useful to practise grammar with students, so that their motivation and level of communicative competence will increase, I use two questionnaires to find out the individual learning preferences of my students, respectively their needs in English.

Questionnaire 1                                                                   Needs analysis

1. What is the most important reason that you need English for (now or in the future)?
For travel, study, an exam, reading literature, friendship, emigration, to study something, general interest, half of the World’s Websites are written in English, to have access to a great wealth of entertainment (many of the world’s top films and music are produced in English), etc.?

2. Write five things you would like to be able to do better in English (e.g. write a letter to a friend).
a. ________________________                               d. ______________________________
b. ________________________                               e. ______________________________
c. ________________________

3.Which of the following things do you want or need to study more of? Mark the box in the correct places to show your opinion and then add a comment to explain why you chose that answer.

I need to study more of this             [ I don’t mind               I don’t want much of this                        Comment ]
Reading
Writing
Speaking
Listening
Grammar
Vocabulary/Phrases
Pronunciation

4. What do you find enjoyable, boring, easy and difficult when studying English?
a. I enjoy it when ……………………………………………………………
b. I get bored when ………………………………………………………….
c. I find the following things quite easy: ……………………………………
d. I find the following things quite difficult: ………………………………..

(adapted from Scrivener, Learning Teaching,  p.408)

Questionnaire 2                                                                Individual learning preferences

I like…   [ often / sometimes / just a little / never ]
• working in pairs.
• working in small groups.
• whole-class discussions.
• whole-class teacher explanations.
• when the teacher asks the whole class questions.
• when the teacher asks me individual questions.
• when the teacher asks me to repeat language.
• to see things (pictures, words written down, etc.).
• to hear things (language, recordings, etc.).
• to touch and hold things(models, pictures, etc.).
• the class to move very fast.
• doing exercises on my own.
• doing exercises with other students’ help and ideas.
• listening to the teacher telling stories, etc.
• speaking without a lot of correction.
• most work to come from the course book.
• the teacher to adapt coursebook material.
• when the teacher explains every new point.
• when the teacher helps us to work things out ourselves.
• language games.
• having lots of chances to use the language myself.
• homework.
(Scrivener, Learning Teaching, p.405)

The Needs analysis questionnaire aims to find out what are the students’ needs in order to plan my course successfully. At the same time, this questionnaire is used as a means of building their awareness and autonomy, as I am permanently trying to encourage them to start thinking about their learning and assume it.

The Individual learning preferences questionnaire aims to help the teacher identify the activities that the students find more enjoyable and stimulating for their progress in language learning, while making the students aware of the way they work best.

Bibliography

Scrivener, Jim. “Learning Teaching. A guidebook for English language teachers”, 3rd edition. Macmillan, 2005. Print.

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