WHY TEACHING ENGLISH FOR SPECIFIC PURPOSES AT UNIVERSITIES?
By Zarela Cruz
Wouldn’t it be great to have the chance to study English for Academic purposes while being at university? Of course, it would be. In itself it is a very important comparative advantange in terms of marketing, but as we well know, English studies are postponed by students who most of the times consider it is just a requirement to fullfill, either to graduate or to get their Master’s degree.
Below, some basic concepts and FAQ that will allow you discover the potential of this field:
DEFINITION: ESP is defined to meet specific needs of the learners and is centered on the corresponding language in terms of grammar, lexis, register, study skills and discourse.(1) An important aspect to take into account is the fact that ESP is generally designed for intermediate or advanced students since it is assumed that students have some prior knowledge of the language to make the most of it, otherwise it will be restricted to a set of isolated phrases and long lists of words, as indeed, is taught in some universities. At least this is what I concluded from getting information from some public and private university students in Lima and provinces.
HOW IS ESP (ENGLISH FOR SPECIF PURPOSES) IS DIFFERENT FROM ESL (ENGLISH AS A SECOND LANGUAGE)? The most important difference is the learner since they need it to communicate at work or with work-related issues. It is mostly based on teaching language in a particular context which is related to the learners’ field of knowledge. There is nothing more motivating for a student than to put the language into practice in a meaningul situation to them. This reinforces and increases their inner motivation.
WHAT IS THE ROLE OF THE ESP TEACHER? A teacher must be experienced. This will allow them to exploit the academic background not only in teaching strategies but also in designing lessons for specific academic fields. Ideally, the teacher must be a source of information for the student.
DOES THE ESP STUDENT HAVE ANY RESPONSIBILITY IN THEIR LEARNING? Of course they do! They bring to class their subject matter knowledge and must be commited to develop their language knowledge and skills and use them in authentic contexts paying attention to cultural aspects as well. This is the most effective way to become fluent in their fields.
And now a few questions to reflect on: Are you interested in becoming a ESP teacher? Are you up to take a ESP course? If so, what do you expect from them?
I do expect that instead of discouraging you from becoming an ESP teacher or student, this article turns into a wake-up call to redefine your own goals regarding the teaching and learning of English and realize the many advantages it has when studying it during your upper studies or tertiary education.
Let us know what you think and share your experience with us!
English for Specific Purposes: What does it mean? Why is it different?
Teaching English for Specific Purposes (ESP)
Zarela Cruz graduated from Ricardo Palma University as a translator. She also finished her master’s studies in Linguistics and took some specialization diplomas in English and Spanish: Higher Education, Virtual Courses Design, and Spanish for Foreigners. She has also completed a number of certificates: Teaching the Working Adult, Online, Hybrid and Blended Education, among other self-study courses. During her more than 20 years’ teaching experience, she has taught different courses, programs and levels. This article aims not only to encourage other teachers to specialize in one field to teach ESP courses but also professionals to keep improving their knowledge of the language.