I'm Andy. I teach ESP in the UK, mainly in Higher Education.
In English for Specific Purposes, is it the English that is specific or the purpose?
I am assuming a specific purpose makes it a SPECIFIC English :). I' d go along with the specific purpose because English cannot be created in a vacuum 'l'art pour l'art' way. There cannot seem to be room for L'English pour l' English :) out there with the professionals who need to acquire ESP lexis and grammar
You and all here in the forum might like to take a look at a very good blog by another 'brother in arms' in ESP area :) , a friend of mine -Jeremy Day.
Hi Everyone, I look forward to meeting you at the conference.
'specific purposes' in my conception means 'domain specific'. Each profession or set of professions has its own language, technical as well as communicative. This is not only relevant for adult learners already in a profession but EAP learners as well, who will benefit from subject-specific language and recycling of concepts into an enjoyable communicative language class.
Each set of disciplines also prefers certain cognitive potentials or 'intelligences', for example Teaching requires excellent interpersonal intelligence and engineering very good kinaesthetic as well as logical/mathematical intelligences.
Just like 'general' English in relation to ESP, no intelligences work in isolation. My workshop on Sunday 17 April at 14:35 in the TBank will use the generic topic of 'tourism' to introduce EAP/ESP teachers to the 'Entry Point Approach' which is designed to capture Multiple Intelligences through 'entry' and 'exit' points.
Hope to see you there,
I'm not sure if I agree. ESP is - as it says - English for Specific Purposes. It may or may not involve specialist language! It's the activities that the learners will engage in that define the teaching. See Pauline Robinson's ESP Today, page 4.
This is interesting to me because I co-wrote a book last year for German speakers who need English to work in Asia or with Asians, so the content is very specific and focuses on things like intercultural competence, working with different discourse patterns, listening to Asian accents etc. I have always categorized the book as ESP, but it doesn't seem to fall into the traditional category of domain specific that Josh describes. But neither does it fall into a purely "English" category. Maybe it's more "discourse community" specific, which implies a focus on both English and purpose.
Or is that sitting on the fence? :-)
That doesn't seem to be sitting on the fence to me. It seems to be being aware of your target learners and their contexts. Once you know who your learners are, and why they want to learn English, who they need to communicate what to, etc., you can start working out their language and learning needs. Isn't that what ESP is all about?
Yes, of course. What I meant by sitting on the fence is that I'm not really able to answer your original question about whether specific refers to the "English" or to the "purpose". For me it's both.
I have often wondered how specific English for Specific Purposes can be. When does it come to a point when it is too specific for the publishers to be interested in it.
For example as a qualified Credit controller and EFL teacher I have wanted to produce a book in my "field" for years and am often told it is too specific. However, all companies have money to collect and many accounts departments have problems doing this. So this is too specific- how can we spread the topic so that it is commercial because too specific seems to mean not commercial enough.
My simple answer is that ESP is probably always too specific for the big publishers to be interested in. But teaching ESP itself can be as specific as you, or your students, want.
I agree with Andy,
Specific is about the connection between you and your students, as Evan describes in his post. You engage with their interests and targets as much as possible and help them with the languge they need to perform in those contexts. So specific is about language and context - but the context determines the language.
Yes, but the context determines (too strong a word, but it will do) more than language. It determines ways of thinking about the world, for example. Some of this is linguistic, but some isn't. We often assume in ESP that our students have these non-linguistic skills, but it's not always the case. And it's often down to the ESP teachers to teach them as there's no one else. I remember teaching ESP to Saudi engineers in the early 80s. I was supposed to teach them the language of computing, but they had never seen one - and they weren't impressed with my Sinclair Spectrum. Things were much better when we moved to a computer lab in the local technical college, and I could work with a computing teacher.
To make it more interesting for big publishers is probably why we have *general* technical English or *general* business English books :-)
I would say ESP can be all of what has been said here: specific language, specific purpose and specific activities or tasks. I would add to that "specific context".
Hello to everybody,
Let me share my experience with you. This year I was asked to teach English for sailors. The first problem I encountered was the lack of a textbook. To be exact they don’t have any English textbooks for sailors at all except a thin brochure with some words and word combinations they have to learn and a grammar reference which is quite complicated for them. I have to design my own textbook. As seamen they need certain language skills to perform a number of language functions. But most of students who enter the college don’t know English at all. They have only 10 month to learn English. I agree with Nergiz that ESP can be all of what has been said here (specific language, specific purpose and specific activities or tasks). But it’s very difficult for me to create "specific situation".
I have also been in your situation. I had to teach English for taxi drivers and could not find any material so created my own. I've written an article about it which will be published in the English Teaching Professional. Situated learning played an important role in it.
Now I teach English to city planners for whom I have created a website: http://blogs.humanities.manchester.ac.uk/mewxjnk2/ with materials and tasks.
When I read sailors I couldn't help but think of Second Life. There are a lot of places for sailing. You can buy all kinds of vessels and there are sailing regattas. So creating the situation is actually very easy :-) If you think this is something for you and your students, you are welcome to join our language teacher support group. We meet regularly in SL. Here are two videos that can give you an idea about sailing in SL: http://youtu.be/LW7Vw59tbN0 , http://youtu.be/9Mk8pqPr0rc (check out the sidebar on YT for more SL sailing videos).
I think this is all very interesting and useful. We do, though, need to make sure that we are fully aware of the purposes for which our students are learning English. English for Sailors (EfS) could, for example refer to English for Academic Sailing Purposes (EASP), English for Occupation Sailing Purposes (EOSP), or even English for Touristic Sailing Purposes (ETSP). EASP students may need, for example, to read textbooks, write reports or take exams etc. Whereas EOSP students may need to following instructions, read manuals, complete logs etc. YouTube videos may not (or may) be appropriate for these students. As well as getting the correct vocabulary, we need to ensure students are exposed to relevant genres and tasks. Materials produced, for example, by large international publishers will not be able to cater for your particular group of students and - in order to sell more books - will try to include everything. You may be able to select something useful from these books, but ultimately you will have to produce your own materials as only you will be aware of their purposes in learning English.
"We do, though, need to make sure that we are fully aware of the purposes for which our students are learning English". Right, this is exactly what makes us ESP teachers.
Actually, I wasn't suggesting the use of the YouTube videos (although they can come in handy in many situations). It was to give those who have not been in Second Life yet a flavour of what it looks like. I believe that situated learning is very important and even if textbooks for a specific purpose exist, they are not always the best means of providing context and for actually using the language where it would normally be used. This is where 3D environments like Second Life can play an important role, unless you are lucky enough to teach the sailors in their work environment. This does not exclude any other language or skills work; they can be integrated in meaningful ways.
I´m a Secondary and University teacher. I teach ESP in the Dentistry Faculty. It´s very interesting for me. All the activities are involved in the students´needs. To be inmersed in this field is amazing for me because I´m not just an English Teacher, I teach for specific purposes, it means all about teeth and specialties. It was very difficult at the beginning but now I love to teach dentistry. I´m sure I can apply all the activities through the skills ( listening, speaking and etc) and it´s most valuable when
we reflect about the subject itself. Doing this through graphic organizers, essays like "Dentistry is dedicated to the care and well-being of people". Students and I are involved in the process of teaching and learning. That´s the reason that I´m finishing my master´s thesis about this topic. I apply the social constructivism of Vigostky and his ZPD. If you have more information about the topic I ´ll be very pleased to receive your comments.
Thank you for a good discussion on the topic. Specific English is used for different purposes. for e.g. Tania teaches specific English for Dentistry. While I teach specific English for business purposes.