Cambridge English Teacher © Cambridge University Press and Cambridge English Language Assessment 2014
Teaching English for Specific Purposes ESP) as a non-expert
Explore teachers’ insecurities about teaching ESP
Raise teachers’ professional confidence
Teachers with any level of experience New teachers of English for Specific Purposes (ESP) often feel guilty that they don’t know enough about an ESP field to help their students: how can I teach something that I don’t even understand myself? And they panic that they are going to look foolish if they can’t answer their students’ questions. Teaching ESP is never an easy option – you certainly need to be brave. But it’s not as bad as it first seems, and there’s really no need to feel guilty or stupid. There’s much, much more to teaching ESP than long lists of vocabulary. If your students really need to know what a particular word means, they can buy a dictionary or look it up on the Internet. What they need from you is much deeper. As an English teacher, you already know quite a lot from your experiences of teaching general English:
You know how English works (e.g. grammar, pronunciation, collocations, etc.) – this accounts for a large part of what students can learn from you;
You know how effective language learning works, and can organise a course to maximise that learning;
You know how to motivate students, how to make lessons fun and engaging, how to build fluency and confidence, how to manage discipline, etc. These skills and strengths are needed in exactly the same way in ESP as in other English courses. Your students need you to be a brilliant teacher, not a dictionary.