ESP target situation needs analysis
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Although the ESP approach is widely used in English language programs in Saudi Arabia, few applications have been conducted to customize ESP courses to suit the Saudi work environment. The medical field represents this challenge since English is used as the tool of communication in the Saudi medical field. The purpose of this study was to investigate the English language communicative needs of health professionals in the Riyadh area by investigating their language use in the workplace in order to provide empirical data serving Saudi ESP context. The study used the framework of needs analysis to investigate the extent of English use in the careers of medical professionals, the required level of the reading, writing, listening and speaking skills in different activities, and the perception of health professionals towards their English language preparation during their previous college study. A questionnaire was constructed and distributed to three different hospitals in the Riyadh area representing five different medical sites. The sample population consisted of health professionals representing physicians, dentists, pharmacists, and applied medical technicians. 787 questionnaires were distributed. Out of these 787 questionnaires, 259 came back representing a response rate of 32.9%. Out of the 259 received questionnaires, 34 were disregarded due to incomplete answers or non qualified respondents. This brought the total number of usable forms to 225 questionnaires. The questionnaire consisted of 22 items and 20 sub-items. For each item and sub-item, frequency and percentage were calculated using the SPSS statistical package. The findings of the study indicated that the English language is used extensively at the workplace and plays an important role in the careers of health professionals. However, physicians and dentists used English more often than pharmacists and applied medical specialists. The findings also indicated that the receptive skills (e.g. reading and listening) were perceived as more important than the productive skills (speaking and writing). However, the differences in percentages between receptive skills and productive skills were too close to make an affirmative judgment. Finally, the findings revealed that the English language courses that health professionals took at the college level were inadequate in relating the English language use to their medical needs.