Approaches to ESP Learning
This paper deals with the definitions of some terminologies and approaches concerning English language teaching as well as ESP. The candidate begins with a concise description of English as a medium of international communication and the importance of ESP in the light of the globalization process. She also tackles the summary of the characteristics of the most significant approaches followed by language teachers, namely the Grammar Translation Approach, the Audio-Lingual Approach, the natural Approach, and finally, the Communicative Language Teaching.
2. English as a Means for Global Communication
The latest world events, notably world wars and 9-11 events (1), have called attention to the need to increase understanding and to improve communication among all nations. An international exchange of ideas is essential in areas ranging from the medical research, engineering to the political challenges of a global economy.
To meet these communication needs including exchange of information and understanding, more and more individuals try to acquire highly specific academic language skills for professional and educational reasons. That is why a clear necessity for effective English communication skills for graduates in the current globalised work environment emerged. It is observed that non native English speaking students do not gain the kind of proficiency demanded in present day context where communication is beyond the mastery of the four skills, namely: reading, speaking, listening and writing.
Communication across global companies and multinationals, require workforce that is competent in particular skills like negotiations, team work, oral presentations, report writing, decision making and so forth. Unfortunately, all Algerian students do not gain competency in such skills during their studies at university, although these are crucial in the places of work because they had not been trained for that. Once at university level, the students' knowledge of English is generally in the area of general English and does not include specific preparation for studying at university.
According to Crystal, English is at present the dominant or official language in over 100 countries and is represented in each of the five continents (Crystal, 1997:3) with more or less 341,000,000 native speakers (2). During the twentieth century, almost all technological inventions and developments, such as telephone, fax, electronic mail, internet, etc have made communication between people easier. The language that is used most is English, as the following quote confirms: ‘Most of the scientific, technological and academic information in the world is expressed in English and over 80% of all the information stored in electronic retrieval systems is in English’ (Crystal, 1997:106). [pic]
Map 1: English speaking countries and territories around the world. (Culture and Language: anthro.palomar.edu/language/language_1.htm)
English speaking countries
Non- English speaking countries
Graddol (1997:8) identifies mainly 12 domains where English is used as an international language (3): 1) "English is the working language of international organisations and conference. 2) English is the international language of science and technology. 3) English is used in international banking, economic affairs and commerce. 4) Advertising for global brands is done in English.
5) English is the language of audio-visual and cultural products. 6) English is the language of international tourism.
7) English is the language of tertiary education.
8) English is the language of international safety in the fields of aeronautics and sea. 9) English is the language of international law.
10) It is a relay language in interpretation and translation. 11) It is the language of technology transfer.
12) It is the language of internet communication."
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