Syllabus Designing - Review of Literature

Topics: English language, Teaching English as a foreign language, Language education Pages: 17 (5836 words) Published: April 28, 2012

An essential step in any research project is the literature review. The function of the literature review is to provide background information on the research question, and to identify what others have said and/or discovered about the question. It may well be that in the course of carrying out the literature review, you come across a study which answers the very question you are proposing to investigate. The literature review, if carried out systematically, will acquaint the researcher with previous work in the field, and it should also alert you to problems and potential pitfalls in the chosen area.

English for Specific Purposes (ESP) is often underestimated because of teachers' attitudes which are often characterized either by condescension or reluctance. This is manifested in the belief that often prevails among teachers that ESP is for those who cannot teach the "real" language. A good example of this situation is "English in other departments" or "The Language Unit" at university where teaching this component of the students' program of studies is generally the responsibility of junior members of staff and where it is a "slot-filling" subject in the teachers' time-tables. This underestimation may be due to the fact many language teachers are not aware of what it means to be an ESP teacher, and what it takes to be successful in this practice.

The situation in the Tamil Nadu is even more complicated as there is not even a separation between ESP and English for General Purposes (EGP) when it comes to syllabuses and methodology, and who is better trained to teach what. Needs assessment, which is a major component of ESP, never exists, and, if does, it is never systematic, but rather based on teachers' intuitions. Moreover, the methodology adopted in teaching never differs. That is, a teacher would enter a class with the same kind of methodology in mind regardless of the aims of each program. Unfortunately, programs are always put "in the same basket" and are always simply labelled as programs for "Teaching English". As a matter of fact, English is not always just English for there are particularities that ought to be taken into consideration when designing syllabuses and practicing teaching depending on the objectives set for each situation.

Definition of ESP (English for Specific Purposes)
The term of ESP is generally represented as ‘English for Specific Purposes’, which emphasizes on the students’ purposes and refers to the whole range of language resources (Robinson, 1980). A definition of ESP given by Strevens (1988, p. 1 - 2) is that ESP needs to distinguish between four absolute and two variable characteristics namely: a. Absolute characteristics:

ESP consists of English language teaching which is:
designed to meet specified needs of the learners
related in content (i.e. in its themes and topics) to particular disciplines, occupations and activities
centered on the language appropriate to those activities, in syntax, lexis, discourse, semantics, etc.
in contrast with ‘General English’.

b. Variables characteristics:
ESP may be, but is not necessarily:
restricted as to the language skills to be learned (e.g. reading only, etc.) taught according to any pre-ordained methodology (i.e. ESP is not restricted to any particular methodology – although communication methodology is very often felt to be most appropriate).

Munby (1978, 1996) defined ESP in relation to ESP courses based on the analysis of the students’ language needs. His definition of ESP is still current as follows: “ESP courses are those where the syllabus and materials are determined in all essentials by the prior analysis of the communication needs of the learner” (p. 2). The interpretation of the expression ‘learner need’ deals with two different aspects of needs (Widdowson, 1984, p. 178), referring to (1) what the learner needs to do with the language once he or she has learned it. This is a...
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