What is ESP and how does it differ from teaching general English course

Topics: Second language acquisition, Linguistics, Language acquisition Pages: 8 (2310 words) Published: February 28, 2014


What is ESP and how does it differ from teaching general English course

What is ESP? ESP is English for Specific Purpose and can also be referred to as Business English. A great deal about the origins of ESP could be written. Notably, there are three reasons common to the emergence of all ESP: the demands of a Brave New World, a revolution in linguistics, and focus on the learner (Hutchinson & Waters, 1987). ESP arose as a term in the 1960’s as it became increasingly aware that general English courses frequently did not meet learner or employers wants. As far back as 1977 Strevens (1977) set out to encapsulate the term and what it meant. Robinson (1980) wrote a thorough review of theoretical positions and what ESP meant at that time. Coffey (1985) updated Streven’s work and saw ESP as a major part of communicative language teaching in general. Today it is still a prominent part of EFL teaching (Anthony, 1997b). Johns & Dudley-Evans (2001, 115) state that, ‘the demand for English for specific purposes… continues to increase and expand throughout the world.’ When teaching ESP (English for Specific Purposes) or Business English, the teacher simply continues teaching all the English that they already know how to, but incorporate vocabulary,examples, topics and contexts that are relevant to the students particular needs. The term “specific” in ESP refers to the specific purpose for learning English. This may include EAP(English for Academic Purposes), which prepares students at tertiary level for further academic studies where English is used as the medium of instruction. Students approach the study of English through a field that is already known and relevant to them. This means that they are able to use what they learn in the ESP classroom right away in their work and studies. The most important difference lies in the learners and their purposes for learning English. ESP students are usually adults who already have some acquaintance with English and are learning the language in order to communicate a set of professional skills and to perform particular job-related functions. An ESP program is therefore built on an assessment of purposes and needs and the functions for which English is required. ESP concentrates more on language in context than on teaching grammar and language structures. It covers subjects varying from accounting or computer science to tourism and business management. The ESP focal point is that English is not taught as a subject separated from the students' real world (or wishes); instead, it is integrated into a subject matter area important to the learners.

What about General English when teaching ESP? The techniques are fundamentally the same as those used when teaching a General English course. The ESL Teacher continues to teach English, but incorporate vocabulary, examples, topics and contexts that are relevant to the students particular needs. The term "specific" in ESP refers to the specific purpose for learning English. Students approach the study of English through a field that is already known and relevant to them. This means that they are able to use what they learn in the ESP classroom right away in their work and studies. The ESP approach enhances the relevance of what the students are learning and enables them to use the English they know to learn even more English, since their interest in their field will motivate them to interact with speakers and texts. The techniques are fundamentally the same as those used when teaching a general English course. If you do not have the appropriate texts, tapes etc, then it may be possible to get the students or corporate client to provide them. There are also many course books designed for ESP and Business English. Aside from the rough separation – at definition level, there exists overlapping connections and proportions between them. To clarify these relations, Widdowson (1983) accounts for distinctive features of ESL and General English;...

References: Geyser, J. 2006. English to the World: Teaching Methodology Made Easy. Malaysia: August Publishing. (Chapter 15, pages 259 – 264)
From a Journal
Carter, D. (1983): Some Propositions about ESP, The ESP Journal, 2,131-137.
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Dudley-Evans, T., & St. John, M. J. (1998). Developments in English for specific
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Anthony, L. (1997b). ESP: What does it mean? Why is it different? On Cue. Retrieved February 5, 2014 from http://www.antlab.sci.waseda.ac.jp/abstracts/ESParticle.html
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