Needs analyses for task-based curriculum design: How useful can it be for general purpose L2 courses?

  • Natallia Liakina Université McGill
  • Gabriel Michaud McGill University


When designing a task-based language curriculum, it is essential to conduct a needs analysis (NA) to gain insight into the needs and goals of the student population (Long SLA and TBLT 6). This article illustrates the steps of the process by which an NA was designed and implemented in two university-level B2 level oral communication French as a Second Language courses to investigate students’ perceptions of the TBLT approach, students’ motivations, needs and desired outcomes in order to develop task-based syllabi. This article also addresses the challenges of responding to the needs of a diverse student population in order to determine thematic content and to design the authentic real-life tasks that would appeal to different individual students while taking into account the sociolinguistic and cultural context of the Francophone province of Quebec.

The NA consisted of an analysis of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), an online questionnaire given to both students (n = 48) and teachers (n = 8), and semi-structured interviews with students (n = 8). Despite the apparent heterogeneity of the participants in the two general purpose oral communication language classes, results suggest common, domain-independent goals and themes that would sufficiently cater to the needs and objectives of each individual in the group while also meeting the academic requirements of a university-level course.

Bibliographies de l'auteur

Natallia Liakina, Université McGill
Natallia Liakina is a Senior Faculty Lecturer at the French Language Centre of McGill University. Her current research is focused on task-based language teaching, corrective phonetics and the impact of new technologies on second language teaching and learning.
Gabriel Michaud, McGill University

Gabriel Michaud is a Faculty Lecturer at the French Language Centre of McGill University. Prior to that, he taught French at l’Université de Montréal. His research interests include task-based language teaching, integrated focus on form and curriculum design.


Arnold, Nike. “Reducing foreign language communication apprehension with computer mediated communication: A preliminary study.” System: An International Journal of Educational Technology and Applied Linguistics, vol. 35, no. 4, 2007, pp. 469-486.

Council of Europe. Common European Framework of References for Languages: learning, teaching, assessment. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

Dörnyei, Zoltán, and Judit Kormos. “The role of individual and social variables in oral task performance”. Language Teaching Research, vol. 4, no. 3, 2000, pp. 275-300.

Bradley, Travis & Lomicka, Lara. “A case study of learner interaction in technology enhanced language learning environments.” Journal of Educational Computing Research, vol. 22, no. 3, 2000, pp. 347-368.

Byram, Michael. Teaching and Assessing Intercultural Communicative Competence. Multilingual Matters Ltd., 1997.

Celce-Murcia, Marianne, et al. Teaching Pronunciation: a Course Book and Reference Guide. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

Ellis, Rod. Task-based Language Learning and Teaching. Oxford, U.K: Oxford University
Press, 2003.

---. "Task‐based language teaching: Sorting out the misunderstandings." International Journal of Applied Linguistics, vol. 19, no 3, 2009, pp. 221-246.

Gilabert, Roger. "Evaluating the use of multiple sources and methods in needs analysis:
A case study of journalists in the Autonomous Community of Catalonia (Spain)."Second language needs analysis, edited by Michael H. Long, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2005, pp. 182-199.

González-Lloret, Marta, and Katharine B. Nielson. "Evaluating TBLT: The case of a task-based Spanish program" Language Teaching Research, vol. 19, no 5, 2015, pp. 525-549.

Hwang, Hyosung, and Lee, Ho-Young. “The effect of high variability phonetic training on the production of English vowels and consonants.” In Proceedings of the 18th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences edited by Maria Wolters, Judy Livingstone, Bernie Beattie, Rachel Smith, Mike MacMahon, Jane Stuart-Smith and Jim Scobbie. The Scottish Consortium for ICPhS, 2015, Accessed on 01 July 2017.

Jones, Ann, Issroff, Kim, Scanlon, Eileen, Clough, Gill, McAndrew, Patrick and Blake, Canan. “Using mobile devices for learning in informal settings: is it motivating?” In IADIS International Conference on Mobile Learning. IADIS Press, 14-16 July 2006, Accessed on 16 July 2017.

Kramsch, Claire. “From communicative competence to symbolic competence.” The Modern Language Journal, vol. 90, no. 2, 2006, pp. 249-252.

Lambert, Craig. “A task-based needs analysis: Putting principles into practice.” Language Teaching Research, vol. 14, no. 1, 2010, pp. 99-112.

Lee, Lina. “Blogging: promoting learner autonomy and intercultural competence through study abroad.” Language Learning & Technology, vol. 15, no. 3, 2011, pp. 87–109, Accessed 01 July 2017.

Long, Michael H. “A Role for Second Language Acquisition: task-based language teaching.” Modeling and Assessing Second Language Development, edited Kenneth Hyltenstam, Manfred Pienemann, Clevedon, Avon: Multilingual Matters, 1985, pp. 77-99.

---. Second language acquisition and task-based language teaching. JohnWiley & Sons, 2014.

---. “Methodological issues in learner needs analysis”. Second language needs analysis, edited by Michael L. Long. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005, pp. 19–76.

Plonsky, Luke, and Gurzynski-Weiss, Laura. “Research methods.” Manual of Language Acquisition, edited by Christiane Fäcke, De Gruyter, 2014, pp. 31-49.

Swain, Merrill. “The output hypothesis and beyond: Mediating acquisition through collaborative dialogue”. Sociocultural theory and second language learning, vol. 97, 2000.

Thomson, Ron. “Improving L2 Listeners’ Perception of English Vowels: A Computer Mediated Approach.” Language Learning, vol. 62, no. 4, 2012, pp. 1231–1258. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9922.2012.00724.x

Thorne, Steven. L. “Pedagogical and praxiological lessons from internet-mediated intercultural foreign language education research.” Internet-mediated intercultural foreign language education, edited by Julie A. Belz & Steven L. Thorne, Thomson Heinle, 2006, pp. 2-30.

Thorne, Steven L. and Jonathon Reinhardt. (2008). “”Bridging Activities,” New Media Literacies, and Advanced Foreign Language Proficiency.” CALICO Journal, vol. 25, no. 3, 2008, pp. 558-572, Accessed 01 July 2017.

Warschauer, Mark, and Healey, Deborah. “Computers and language learning: an overview.” Language Teaching, vol. 31, 1998, pp. 57-71.

Watanabe, Yukiko. “A needs analysis for Japanese high school EFL general education
curriculum.” Second Language Studies, vol. 25, no. 1, 2006 pp. 83-163.