Office of Language Assessment

Language for Specific Purposes – Domain Analysis

Language for Specific Purposes (LSP) Courses

As a way of building on the innovation that has already taken place, in 2019 UChicago Language Center added the Languages for Specific Courses initiative within the LPII. This initiative seeks to develop a rigorous, systematic way of adding specialized courses to the university’s language offerings–courses such as Spanish for the Legal Professions, or other courses that pair a specific language with a specific domain.

But in adherence with the LPII’s guiding principle of reverse design, we cannot develop a course until we have an end-of-sequence assessment in place; only then can we determine whether the course will prepare students to meet the target functions. And in the case of LSP, we can’t develop an assessment until we first identify those target functions. We do that through a process called domain analysis.

Domain Analysis

A Domain Analysis is a systematic analysis of language use in specific domains in order to identify and define the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities one must possess in order to function in the target domain (i.e., in the specific real-world language use context).

Steps of a Domain Analysis
    1. Identify different components in the target domain.
    2. Evaluate the importance, relevance, and practicality of these components.
    3. Choose the most critical, relevant, and informative components to analyze in detail & provide a rationale for it.
    4. In consultation with OLA, decide data collection & analysis method(s) for each component.
    5. As a result, create a table of key language knowledge, skills, and abilities in the target domain for the given proficiency level.
    6. Define the domain specific target functions for each skill for the given proficiency level (based on ACTFL general language proficiency guidelines).

Watch Ahmet Dursun, Director of the Office of Language Assessment, talk about Domain Analysis at the keynote for the 2022 ISLSP-CIBER Symposium.

To apply (UChicago instructors):

Pre-requisite: Completion of a Language Assessment Workshop and OPI training.
Applicants submit an application form and statement of purpose on Canvas. They must describe in detail the need for the new Language for Specific Purposes (LSP) course and test, and how they would fit into the overall curriculum. Along with submitting an application and proposal on Canvas, participants must have their language coordinator (where applicable) and department chair email their approval to Ahmet Dursun. Deadline: November 11, 2022.

Upon completion of domain analysis, participants will develop the end-of-course proficiency assessment based on the findings of this systematic analysis of language use in their LSP domain.

Not from UChicago?

In the summer of 2022, the Language Center offered a mini-course to external participants interested in learning about and conducting a domain analysis. If you are interested in joining such a course in the summer of 2023, contact Ahmet Dursun at