What is English for Specific Purposes?

Hello everyone,

Today I’m going to take a look at  English for Specific Purposes or ESP .

This term covers quite a wide area of English language teaching and has been around as a branch of the profession for many decades.  So what is it?  In short, ESP  is English language tuition directed at a specific use and designed for a particular reason where English is needed, for example, in a  particular job or career.  Whatever, it is always and should be always needs-based.

ESP can be taught in the student’s own country at  a college or specialist institution.  It can be taught in groups or one-to one and is often financed by the student’s government, employment or association.

As English is seen as an International language, often employers overseas have expectations of their staff to achieve a level in English where they can use it to either operate better in their job at home, or indeed go abroad for the company and use the language competently.

This can lead to people not always having the right motivation for learning and therefore  pressure can be put on the teacher.  As employers are often paying good money for the tuition, expectations are high and the onus falls on teachers to deliver good-quality programmes.

However,  this aside it is an interesting and challenging area for English language tutors to work in and, with the right approach, tutors can offer stimulating and insightful programmes to their learners.

This aside, there are any number of reasons why someone may need to learn English for work purposes.  Some example areas where ESP can be useful include Hotel and Tourism, Banking and Finance, Secretarial and Administration, Law, Medicine and Business.    In all these areas tutors will need to know  the specific goals of their students and strive to provide the correct language and vocabulary needed.

So how do tutors know what should be taught?  In ESP is is important that both students, sponsors and tutors are aware that an inventory of  learner requirements, motivation and goals are taken into account. Time should be spent with  prospective students learning about their needs and goals.  This ‘needs analysis’ can then be used as a framework for the design of a stimulating and practical programme in which the student/s can learn and develop.

Connect to English offers  Business English and English in the Workplace  programmes where extensive need analysis is carried out and courses are then especially designed to suit purpose. We also offer programmes in other areas of ESP.  If you have any queries or comments, why not get in touch ?