1. ESP may be related to or designed for specific disciplines
2. ESP may use, in specific teaching situations, a different methodology from that of General English
3. ESP is likely to be designed for adult learners, either at a tertiary level institution or in a professional work situation. It could, however, be for learners at secondary school level
4. ESP is generally designed for intermediate or advanced students.
5. Most ESP courses assume some basic knowledge of the language systems
Main Problems:1) ESP is sort of long-term investment – students start using their language competencies after 2-3 years, since ESP is as a rule limited to 1-2 years;
2) ESP hours are rare and far between, which hampers continuity and requires a special mode of lesson-planning;
3) most language acquisition comes through self-access, and students just won’t practice on their own;
4)It is difficult to decide how specialized the course content must be; the teacher is not an expert in the field; on the other hand, students simply do not need a course of linguistics!
5) proficiency of students at the entry stage might vary quite a lot: ESP cannot be effectively taught to absolute beginners; better students are not engaged even at the keep-up level.
There is at least one practical solution to every problem. Give your suggestions.
Course organization principles:
1) Start with needs analysis (placement tests, questionnaires, working out individual educational programmes, handing out test tasks, credit tasks, reference in advance);
2). Concentrate on variety when making scripts (of medium, class organisation, learner roles, activities, focus on skills, variety of topic) – to meet individual requirements of miscellaneous students, many of which have had a frustrating language learning experience;
3). Achievement testing should be integrative and give students an opportunity to exploit subject-specific vocabulary in a problem-solving task;
4) ESP requires team-teaching at certain stages;
5). Scripts should be coherent and based upon short-term objectives; product-oriented approach is preferable.
Illustrate the points with examples whenever necessary.
Stages of Development of ESP methodology. Hutchinson and Waters (1987) note that two key historical periods breathed life into ESP. First, the end of the Second World War brought with it an " ... age of enormous and unprecedented expansion in scientific, technical and economic activity on an international scale · for various reasons, most notably the economic power of the United States in the post-war world, the role [of international language] fell to English" (p. 6). Second, the Oil Crisis of the early 1970s resulted in Western money and knowledge flowing into the oil-rich countries. The language of this knowledge became English. The general effect of all this development was to exert pressure on the language teaching profession to deliver the required goods. Whereas English had previously decided its own destiny, it now became subject to the wishes, needs and demands of people other than language teachers (Hutchinson & Waters, 1987, p.7).
The second key reason cited as having a tremendous impact on the emergence of ESP was a revolution in linguistics. Whereas traditional linguists set out to describe the features of language, revolutionary pioneers in linguistics began to focus on the ways in which language is used in real communication. Hutchinson and Waters (1987) point out that one significant discovery was in the ways that spoken and written English vary. In other words, given the particular context in which English is used, the variant of English will change. This idea was taken one step farther. If language in different situations varies, then tailoring language instruction to meet the needs of learners in specific contexts is also possible. Hence, in the late 1960s and the early 1970s there were many attempts to describe English for Science and Technology (EST). Hutchinson and Waters (1987) identify Ewer and Latorre, Swales, Selinker and Trimble as a few of the prominent descriptive EST pioneers.
The final reason Hutchinson and Waters (1987) cite as having influenced the emergence of ESP has less to do with linguistics and everything to do with psychology. Rather than simply focus on the method of language delivery, more attention was given to the ways in which learners acquire language and the differences in the ways language is acquired. Learners were seen to employ different learning strategies, use different skills, enter with different learning schemata, and be motivated by different needs and interests. Therefore, focus on the learners' needs became equally paramount as the methods employed to disseminate linguistic knowledge. Designing specific courses to better meet these individual needs was a natural extension of this thinking. To this day, the catchword in ESL circles is learner-centered or learning-centered.
ESP methodology in the course of its development went through 5 distinct stages as to what was taken for content basis:
1).register analysis as concept of special language. Teaching materials at this initial stage took specific features of register as syllabus components; e.g. compound nouns, The Passive, Conditionals, Modal Verbs. Language practice as a result was mostly imitation and reproduction at sentence level;
2).beyond sentence or discourse analysis: the concern of research was to identify the organizational patterns in texts and single out linguistic form of the patterns, e.g. making a recommendation, reporting past research, definition, comparison and contrast, etc. The typical teaching materials based on this approach taught students to recognize textual patterns and do text-diagramming exercises;
3).target situation analysis: it was introduced by John Munby; the aim was to enable learners to function adequately in a target situation. Course materials were based upon practicing standard situation dialogues;
4).Skills and Strategies: in terms of materials this approach puts an emphasis upon reading and listening strategies;
5).Needs analysis: before this stage syllabus was describing what people do with the language within their professional field. Stage 5 caters for needs of learners to make the course intrinsically motivating.(Field specific texts do not guarantee motivation!) In order to select course materials there should be investigation of prior learning experience of students, there should be variety, integration of 4 skills, research activities, problem-solving tasks etc.
There will be a number of ESP coursepacks available. Analyze them as to which stage they illustrate. Prove your position by examples (classical activities, structure of the coursepack itself).