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COURSE: (English for specific purposes)

Submitted To:Sir Jahangir
Submitted by: Nobia Jabeen
Roll No. BR566376
Department of English
Allama Iqbal Open University
COURSE: (English for specific purposes)

Submitted To:Sir Jahangir
Submitted by: Mahwash Razaq
Roll No. BR566360
Department of English
Allama Iqbal Open University
Question N0. 1
(i) Define and Describe ESP. Discuss the current situation of ESP
within the context of Pakistan.

Definition and Description of ESP

English for Specific Purposes (ESP) is an umbrella term which covers a range of
diverse teaching contexts. They are broadly defined as English for Academic Purposes
(EAP), English for Occupational Purposes (EOP) and English for Professional Purposes
(EPP). Since in each area of ESP teaching, it is customary to distinguish between
general and specific purposes, its main branches are further subdivided. Accordingly, in
EAP, it is possible to differentiate between English for General Academic Purposes
(EGAP), e.g. English for academic reading, and English for Specific Academic
Purposes (ESAP), e.g. English for medical studies (Basturkmen, 2010).
ESP is the teaching of English to students whose first language is not English but
who need it for a particular job, activity, or purpose. ESPis an abbreviation for
'English for specific purposes' or 'English for special purposes'.
SP considers teaching of English as a foreign language because of its concern with
specific profession, subject or purpose. It has been seen as a separate activity within
ELT. Its salient features lie in developing its own methodology and its research drawn
from various disciplines in addition to applied linguistics. ESP is a specific type of
approach applied for teaching English to the learners of technical and professional
institutions. It is based on the student’s particular needs which motivate them to acquire
the specific genre. Learners get satisfaction from the practical / actual experience of
learning. Prior to ESP teaching English was taught for general purpose. It was to teach
literature and grammar.
English for specific purposes (ESP) is a subset of English as a second or foreign
language. It usually refers to teaching the English language to university students or
people already in employment, with reference to the particular vocabulary and skills
they need. As with any language taught for specific purposes, a given course of ESP
will focus on one occupation or profession, such as Technical English, Scientific
English, English for medical professionals, English for waiters, English for tourism,
etc. Despite the seemingly limited focus, a course of ESP can have a wide-ranging
impact, as is the case with Environmental English.
English for academic purposes, taught to students before or during their degrees, is one
sort of ESP, as is Business English. Aviation English is taught to pilots, air traffic
controllersand civil aviation cadets to enable clear radio communications.

Absolute characteristics

1. "ESP is an approach to language teaching in which all decisions as to content and

method are based on the learner's reason for learning".
2. ESP is defined to meet specific needs of the learners (Maslow's hierarchy of
3. ESP makes use of underlying methodology and activities of the discipline it
4. ESP is centered on the language appropriate to these activities in terms
of grammar, lexis, register, study skills, discourse and genre.
5. ESP should be seen simple as an 'approach' to teaching, or what Dudley-Evans
describes as an 'attitude of mind'.

Discussion about the current situation of ESP within the context of

English as the language for development has dominated the political and official
discourse in Pakistan as in other developing countries for a long time now. More
recently, the discourse of ‘Education for All’ and the increase in the use of English in the
global market have added a universalistic dimension to the teaching-learning of English
in Pakistan, thus making it a complex policy issue particularly for resource distribution
and achieving quality in English language education. ‘English is the passport to success
and upward social mobility’ and ‘English is the key to national progress’ are some
common clichés that are interspersed in the formal discourse of official planning and
policy meetings; more importantly, these clichés reflect the perception of many people –
both rich and poor – in discussing future life chances for their children.
The Advanced English Diploma course taught in NUML is joined by students as well as
professionals to improve their performance at work. Students join the Advanced
Language Diploma course in order to improve the skills needed at their workplace the
most. Students enter the course with high expectations in mind and get disappointed at
the end when their expectations are not filled to the maximum level. The reason behind
this is the fact that the Advanced Language Diploma course is a general English course.
It is not designed for ESP students rather it generally improves the language Skills by
teaching the subjects like Reading, writing, Speaking, Listening skills, CALL, Phonetics
and Phonology, Grammar and integrated skills.

In Pakistan, most of the ESP teachers are those who taught ESP for a chain of
years. They had to face the following barriers in teaching ESP.
a) They were not provided sufficient ESP training. They were not equal to the
labor ions task of ESP teaching. They were to perform not only as classroom
teachers but also to design courses, conduct researches and analyze their
learners’ needs. The teachers should be imparted regular workshop training
on ESP teaching. In addition, they should have efficiency and ability of
b) Most of the ESP teachers in Pakistan do not care to change their mind
regarding the improvement of the class room skills. They are not sensitive
enough to accept the new challenges. These barriers can be easily
overcome by the ESP teachers.
c) Stake holders, expert course designers and the authorities concerned are
least pushed. They do not condescend to rescue the ESP teachers from the
carking issue of non-existence of tradition regarding authentic ESP text.
Hence the stake holders, course designers and skilled ESP partitions should
hold conferences / seminars / discussions with the ESP teachers.
d) . Majority of ESP teachers in Pakistan do not prefer to change their traditional
style of teaching. They should be skillful in applying modern ways of
teaching, especially to make proper use of computer in the teaching process.
Once again the remedy lies in the teacher himself / herself so that he / she
should come up to the required norms of quality teaching.
e) The ESP teachers in Pakistan do not display patience, flexibility and interest
in listening to the problems of the students. He / She should bear it in mind
that the teacher in the classroom is a role model. He / She should give
proper attention to the learner’s needs and preferences. f. Majority of ESP
teachers in Pakistan do not attach due significance to the research work.
Without conducting research, the knowledge of the practitioner remains
limited. The practitioners of ESP should be led to conducting research and it
is the duty of the Heads of the institutions to inspire and assist them
financially in their research work.
f) At present, steps for the dissemination of knowledge and information about
ESP teaching have not been properly taken as yet. Teachers do not like to
exchange their views about ESP teaching with each other. There is scant
publication of newsletters by the institutions. Hence institutions should bring
out newsletters and ESP materials for the improvement and enlightenment of
ESP teachers.
(ii)The major advancements in the field of ESP since its inception
in 1960s and their impact on teaching and learning methodology:
ESP teaching took birth in the second half of 20th century. It is based on designing
courses in keeping with the learners’ need. Course designing is applicable in
syllabus designing, methodology, material evaluation and materiel designing. Its
main emphasis is on what the students learn rather than how they learn. It is
learning-centered as well as language centered in its typical approach. ESP is sub-
divided into two major areas: -
1. English for academic purpose (EAP). It entails pre-service, in- service & post-
experience courses.
2. English for occupational purposes (EOP). It concerns study in a particular
discipline. Pre-experience course will overlook any typical work linked to the
actual discipline. The opportunity for specific work would be available during
in-service course.
From the early 1960's, English for Specific Purposes (ESP) has grown to become
one of the most prominent areas of EFL teaching today. Its development is reflected
in the increasing number of universities offering an MA in ESP.

I. The new shape of English was meant to counter the hard-boiled

relentless realities of the brave new world. It implied an immediate shift
from the formal features of languages use to the technical and
communicative requirement.
II. Various researchers, linguists and stake holders set themselves to
developing courses for the specific groups of language learners.
III. Following message became the guiding principle of ESP: “Tell me what
you need English for and I will tell you the English that you need.” The
third reason was the new development in psychology. It largely
contributed to the use of English for specific purpose. Theories of
mentalism gave prime importance to the learners varying needs. It was
to focus on the clear relevance of the English courses to what the
leaners wanted to acquire.
IV. The teachers in Pakistan making a shift from general English to ESP
had to face a large number of challenges that appeared to them too
complicated to be easily overcome. Prior to it, English in school
education was only a subject within a school curriculum. The instructor
would make efforts to familiarize his students with “lexical, grammatical
and rhetorical components of written and spoken texts. Conversely,
ESP gives primary significance to the provision of skill and technique to
the trainees.
V. Furthermore, general English curriculum is regarded as “Hidden
Curriculum” including instruction in the teaching of moral and cultural
values, social taboos etc. These are barely a part of an ESP course.
Keeping these facts in view, the chairman, HEC wrote a letter to all the
Vice Chancellors of the universities in Pakistan with clear-cut
instructions to prepare plans for their respective institutions to enhance
the learners’ communication skills, not only for academic but also for
professional objectives.
VI. ESP practitioners had to confront two types of impediments in their way
of communicating their ideas to their learners. No doubt, a teacher gets
confused when he finds his students sitting absent-minded in the class
room. First impediment is external and the second one is internal. First
impediment is external and the second one is internal. External
impediments may be learners themselves, who do not respond
positively to the teacher’s questions, lack of proper class room setting,
lack of patience on the part of the teacher, lack of collaboration with the
colleagues, non-seriousness in taking exams, want of motivating
materials to engage the learners’ attention, lack of relevant tasks being
carried out by the students, lack of the practitioner’s competencies and
confidence etc. Internal impediments in the way of an ESP practitioner
cannot be sidetracked in any way. These hurdles, as Daubney (2008)
maintains, are more difficult to tackle than the external ones. Internal
impediments are directly linked to the teacher himself / herself. These
are not so easy to be rooted out. The first one is the personality of the
practitioner himself / herself. Some teachers wrongly believe that ESP
students need to practice the language orally. It affects the type of
activities that the ESP teacher performs in the class room.

As a result, cult for ESP grew for the learners’ theoretical and practical motives. The
brand new genre began to be purposefully employed by the whole range of
students desirous of becoming mechanics, lawyers, doctors, pilots, business men

Discuss in detail various factors influencing implementation of an
ESP course and suggest some practical measures to improve the
At present ESP is the most vibrant and innovative area of language teaching and
research. ESP assesses needs and integrates motivation, subject matter and
content for teaching of relevant skills. In an ESP program the teacher plays a vital
role. An ESP teacher analyses the students need, helps them to develop their self-
confidence and motivates them towards language learning. ESP assumes that the
problems are unique to specific learners in specific contexts and thus must be
carefully delineated and addressed with tailored to fit instruction
The ESP practitioners should play five important role: teacher, course designer,
materials provider, collaborator, researcher & evaluator (Dudley-Evans & St. John,
1998, p.97). Though the ESP curriculum is being designed by the teacher himself
based on the needs of learners, still there are some issues that he/she should
keep in mind while designing the course. Course design is one of the most
essential elements on the part of the ESP course developer.
Designer Hutchinson and Waters (1987) highlighted some important factors
affecting ESP course design, they are Language Descriptions, Theories of
Learning and Needs Analysis; though these three factors seem to be three
different entities, they are still independent and interlinked to each other in the
process of ESP course design.
Factors affecting ESP course design Syllabus ESP Course

Recently, Basturkmen came up with slightly different views in ESPcourse design. The
four different issues involved are:
i. The topic of language varieties.
ii. The topic of need analysis.
iii. The topic of the syllabus.
iv. The topic of wide versus narrow angled course design.(Basturkmen, 2006, p. 15).

i) Varieties of language:
The term variety of language refers to registers of language use e.g.English in
business, English in Academic Settings, English in Media and English for everyday
conversation. Basturkmen (2006) argued "language

Varieties are based in and extend from a common core of language" and
"language varieties are self-contained entities" (p.28). The common core plus: There
is a common core of general language drawn in all areas of life and work.A
representation of common core language and its relationship to language varieties
(Pitt Corder, 199, as cited in Basturkmen, 2006, p. 16). The inner section represents
basic language which includes common words and sentence structures which can be
used in all situations.
All language is specific purpose:Another perspective in varieties of language is that
there is no common core of language. The core is a very vital part of anyone of the
numerous varieties of the language. Bloor and Bloor (1986) commented: All
language learning acquired from one variety or another, even if it is; classroom
A language learner is as likely to acquire the language from one variety as from
another, but the use of language, being geared to situation and participants, is
learned in appropriate contexts (Bloor and Bloor, 1986, p.28). Bloor and Bloor (1986)
fiirther say that, teaching specific variety of English (ESP) can start at any level
including beginners.
Moreover, learning from specific variety of English (e.g. English for Media, English for
Doctors, and English for Business Management) is highly effective as learners
acquire structure in relation to the range of meanings in which they are used in their
academic workplace or professional environment.
ii)Needs Analysis: According to Nunan (1988): The needs analysis procedures
made its appearance in language planning and became widespead in language
teaching" in the year 1970. In its early stage it was used as "the initial process for the
specification of behavioural objectives and later it explored different syllabus
elements such as ftinctions, notions and lexis in a more detailed manner (Nunan,
1988, p.43)
In ESP, language is learnt neither for its own sake nor for the sake of gaining a
general education but to smoothen the path to entry or greater linguistic efficiency in
academic, professional or workplace environments (Basturkmen, 2006, p. 17). Hence
needs analysis is a key feature in ESP course design.
Perspectives of Needs:
Perspectives of needs vary and the needs analyst has to decide whose perspectives
to take into account in designing ESP courses. Different approaches to needs
analysis attempt to meet the needs of the learners in the process of learning a
second language. Not a single approach to needs analysis can be a reliable indicator
of what is needed to enhance learning. A modern and comprehensive concept of
needs analysis is proposed by Dudley-Evans and St. John (1998: 125) which
encompasses all the above-mentioned approaches.
• Personal information about learners –
• Language information about learners –
• Learner's lacks
• Learner's needs from course -
• Language learning needs –
• Professional information about learners
• How to communicate in the target situation –
A Rigid View :
Therefore, Language Use in Specific Situations is simply too unpredictable to be
identified in any certain terms. ESP has sometimes produced a rigid view of language
needs and failed to take account of the variation of language use that exists in any
target situation.
• Language needs are not learning needs.
• Asking learners about their language needs can be problematic because they may
lack awareness.
• Objective needs are not necessarily the same as subjective needs or wants.
Deficiency Analysis:
Jordan (1997) maintains that deficiency analysis can form the basis of the language
syllabus because it should provide data about both the gap between present and
target extra linguistic knowledge, mastery of general English, language skills, and
learning strategies.
Choice of syllabus:
Choice of syllabus is also a big problem for ESP teachers. Based on their
observations of English language courses, Brown (1995) and Richards (1990) list the
following types of syllabuses. They also point out that courses are often based on a
Structural (organized primarily around grammar and sentence patterns).
Functional (organized around communicative functions, such as identifying,
reporting, correcting, and describing).
Notional (organized around conceptual categories, such as duration, quantity,
Topical (organized around themes or topics, such as health, food, and clothing).
Situational (organized around speech settings and the transactions associated with
them, such as shopping, at the bank, at the supermarket).
Skills (organized around micro skills, such as listening for gist, listening for specific
information, listening for inferences).
Task- or activity-based (organized around activities, such as drawing maps,
following directions, following instructions).

Wide versus narrow angled course design.

Needs analysis was warmly welcomed by language for specific purpose teachers as
an approach to course design. But needs analysis did not find its remarkable position
and influence in LSP (Language for Specific Purpose) until Munby's approach to
needs analysis came into being (Phan le Ha, 2005). Munby's approach to needs
analysis is now widely applicable in English Language Teaching.
Munby's Communicative Syllabus Design (1978) drew great attention fi-om ESP
syllabus designers. Hutchinson and Waters state that Munby's work was a landmark
in ESP since it provided a new vision on individual needs. Hutchinson and Waters
(1987) further asserted that: With the development of CNP it seemed as if ESP had
come of its age. The machinery for identifying the needs of any group of learners had
been provided: all the course designers had to do was operate it (Hutchinson and
Waters, 1987, p.54).
Communicative Syllabus Design:
It is based on needs it's quite enthusiastic and encouraging for learners and they can
realize the significance of what they are studying. Moreover ESP courses are time
bound. A learner is required to gain subject specific knowledge of language of a
target specialism within a limited period of time. Hence time management is very
important in ESP class.
Suggestions for some practical measures to improve the situation.
i. The information often comes from the institutions themselves, who already
have definite expectations about what the students should be able to do
and thus needs analysis serves the interest of the institutions often at the
expense of learners (Auerbach, 1995).
ii. Learners are often asked for their perceptions of the needs but there may
not be reliable sources of information about their own needs, especially if
they are relatively unfamiliar with the job they are to perform or subject they
are to study (Long, 1996).
iii. Language needs are not learning needs. Although learners will need to
use certain language structures or features in their target environment, this
does not mean that they are ready to acquire them (Hutchinson & Waters,
1987)Perspective of needs vary and the needs analyst has to decide which
perspective to take into account in designing ESP courses or synthesize
divergent perspectives (Jasso-Aguilar, 1999).
iv. Needs analysis is a means of filling outsiders into the communicative
practice of linguistically privileged in groups. Needs analysis purports to be
an institution to get others to conform to established communicative
practices (Benesch, 2001).
v. Needs analysis is not theoretically neutral. It can be argued that any
system of needs analysis is related to the theory of the nature of language
(West, 1994).


Question No.3
(i) What are different approaches to an ESP course and suggest
some practical measures to improve the situation.
Course Design is the process by which the raw data about a learning need is
interpreted in order to produce an integrated series of teaching-learning
experiences. The aim of course design is to lead the learner to a particular state of
knowledge. In practical terms this entails the use of the theoretical and empirical
information available to produce a syllabus, to select, adapt or write materials in
accordance with the syllabus, to develop a methodology for teaching those
materials and to establish evaluation procedures by which progress towards the
specified goals will be measured.
There are probably many different approaches to ESP course design as there are
course designers. However, we can identify three main types of course design:
Language-centered course design, Skills-centered course design, and Learning-
centered approach.

1. Language-Centered Course Design:

This is the simplest kind of course design and is probably the one most familiar to
English teacher. It is particularly prevalent in ESP. The language-centered course
design process aims to draw as direct a connection as possible between analysis of
the target situation and the content of the ESP course.
It proceeds as follows:
A. It starts from the learners and their needs, and thus it might be centered
in any meaningful sense of the term. The learner is simply used as a
means of identifying the target situation. Instead of taking the whole of
English and teaching it to the learner, as happens in General English,
only a restricted area of the target language is taught. The learner is used
solely as a way of locating the restricted area. Thereafter, the learner
plays no further part in the process. As we have seen, when considering
need analysis, the learner should be considered at every stage of the
process. Yet, in this model the learning needs of the students are not
accounted for at all. It is, therefore, not learner-centered, but simply
B. The learner-centered process can also be criticized for being a static and
inflexible procedure, which can take little account of the conflicts and
contradictions that are inherent in any humans endeavor. Once the initial
analysis of the target situation is done, the course designer is locked into
a relentless process. But what if the initial analysis wrong? What if some
crucial element, such as the unexpected motivational attitude of Mead’s
students is not taken into account? Any procedures must have flexibility,
feedback channels and error tolerance built in so that it can respond to
unsuspected or developing influences.
C. One of the alluring features of this model is that it appears to be
systematic. But in so doing it engenders the false believe that learning
itself is systematic-that the systematic analysis and presentation of
language data will produce systematic learning in the learner.
Unfortunately the role of systematization in the learning is not so simple.
Certainly, there is a lot of evidence to show that the systematization of
knowledge plays a crucial role in the learning process: we learn by fitting
individual items of knowledge together to create a meaningful predictive
system. But the most important point here is that it must be an internally-
generated system not an externally-imposed system. The fact that
knowledge has been systematically analyzed and systematically
presented does not in any way imply that it will be systematically learnt.
Learners have to make the system meaningful to themselves. And
unfortunately we have to admit that we do not know enough about the
mind actually goes about creating its internal system of knowledge. We
must, however, avoid the mistake made by the Audiolingual Approach of
believing that because language ha a describable system, describing that
system will induce systematic learning.
D. The language-centered model gives no acknowledgement to factors
which must inevitably play a part in the creation of any course. Data such
as that produced by a needs analysis, is not important in itself. Data must
be interpreted and in interpreting the data we make use of all sorts of
knowledge that are not revealed in the analysis itself. What is actually
happening in the language-centered approach is that an analytical model
is also being used inappropriately as a predictive model. An analysis of
what happens in a particular situation is being used to determine the
content of pedagogic syllabuses and materials. But there are all manner
of other factors which will influence these activities. To make a simple
example, one of the primary principles of good pedagogic materials is
that they should be interesting. An analysis of language items cannot tell
you whether a text or an activity is interesting. Thus, if materials are
based on language-centered model, then, either there are other factors
being used, which are not acknowledgement in the model, or, and sadly
this is what seems so often to be the case, these learning factors are not
considered to be important at all. As a teacher once remarked at a
seminar on materials writing, ‘It doesn’t if it’s boring. It’s ESP.’
E. The language-centered analysis of target situation data is only at the
surface level. It reveals very little about the competence that underlines
the performance.
In summary, then, the logical, straightforward appeal of the language-centered
approach is, in effect, its weakness. It fails to recognize the fact that, learners being
people, learning is not straightforward, logical process.

2. Skills-centered course design:

The skills-centered approach to ESP has been widely applied in a number of
countries, particularly in Latin America. Students in universities and colleges there
have the limited, but important need to read subject texts in English, because they
are unavailable in the other tongue. In response to this need, a number of ESP
projects have been set up with the specific aim of developing the students’ ability to
read in English. The skills-centered approach is founded on two fundamental
principles: Theoretical and Pragmatic.
a) The basic theoretical hypothesis is that underlying any language behavior are
certain skills and strategies, which the learner uses in order to produce or
comprehend discourse. A skills-centered approach aims to get away from the
surface performance data and look at the competence that underlies the
performance. A skills-centered course, therefore, will present its learning
objectives (though probably not explicitly) in terms of both performance and
competence. This example from a Brazilian ESP syllabus for Library Science
students is given a Maciel et al. (1983)
b. The pragmatics basis for the skills-centered approach derives from a distinction
made by Widdowson (1981) between goal-oriented courses and process
oriented courses. Holmes (1982) points out that:
‘In ESP the main problem is usually one of time available and student experience.
First, the aims may be defined in terms of what is desirable,- i.e. to be able to read
in the literature of the students’ specialism, but there may be nowhere near enough
time to reach this time during the period of the course. Secondly, the students may
be in their first year of studies with little experience of the literature of their
specialism…Accordingly both these factors…may be constraints which say right
from the start, “The aims cannot be achieved during the course.”’
Holmes puts his finger on a contradiction that arises from interpreting ‘needs’ in the
narrow sense of ‘target situation necessities’. If the ESP course is design in terms of
goals, there is in effect a tacit admission that a large number of students will fail the
course. Since ESP is by its very nature process that is intended to enable people to
achieve a purpose, it is at best a little odd to frame the course in such a way as to
almost predict failure. The process-oriented approach tries to avoid this problem by
removing the distinction between the ESP course and the target situation. The ESP
course is not seen as a self-sufficient unit from which learners emerge as proficient
target situation performers, because, as Holmes points out, a number of students
are unlikely to achieve this proficiency. Instead, the ESP course and target situation
are seen as a continuum of constantly developing degrees of proficiency with no
cut-off point of success or failure. The emphasis in the ESP course, then, is not on
achieving a particular set of goals, but enabling the learners to achieve what they
can within the given constraints:
3. A learning-centered approach:
The learner-centered approach is based on the principle that learning is totally
determined by the learner. As teaches we can influence what we teach, but what
learners learn is determined by the learners alone. Learning is seen as a process in
which the learners use what knowledge or skills they have in order to make sense of
the flow of new information. Learning, therefore, is an internal process, which is
crucially dependent upon the knowledge the learners already have and their ability
and motivation to use it. It is difficult to fault this view of learning, if we see learning
simply in term of the end product in the learner’s mind. But learning can, and should,
be seen in the context in which it takes place. Learning is not just a mental process, it
is a process of negotiation between individuals and society. Society sets the target (in
the case of ESP, performance in the target situation) and the individuals must do
their best to get as close to that target as is possible (or reject it). The learners will
certainly determine their own route to the target and the speed at which they travel
the route, but that does not make the target unimportant. The target still has a
determining influence on the possible routes. In the learning process, then, there is
more than just the learner to consider. For this reason we would reject the term a
learner –centered approach in favor of a learning-centered approach to indicate that
the concern is to maximize learning. The learner is one factor to consider in the
learning process, but not the only one. Thus the term: learner-centered would for our
purpose be misleading.
To return to our discussion of approach to course design, we can see that for all its
emphasis on the learner, the skill-centered approach does not fully take the learner
into account, because it still make the ESP learning situation too dependent on the
target situation. The learner is used to identify and to analyze the target situation
needs. But then, as with the language-centered approach, the learner is discarded
and the target situation analysis with allowed to determine the content of the course
with little further reference to the learner.
A language-centered approach says: this is the nature of the target situation
performance and that will determine the ESP course.
A skill-centered approach says: that’s not enough. We must look behind the target
performance data to discover what processes enable someone to perform. Those
processes will determine the ESP course.
A learning-centered approach says: that’s not enough either. We must look beyond
the competence that enables someone to perform, because someone acquires that
Course design is a negotiated process. There is no single factor which has an
outright determining influence on the content of the course. The ESP learning
situation and the target situation will both influence the nature of the syllabus,
materials, and methodology and evaluation procedures. Similarly, each of these
components will influence and be influenced by the others.

Course design is a dynamic process. It does not move in a linear fashion from initial
analysis to completed course. Need and resources vary with time. The course
design, therefore, needs to have built-in feedback channels to enable the course to
respond to developments.
The learning-centered course design process: What does is mean in practical terms
to take a learning-centered approach to ESP? We will look in more detail at this
questions in materials design (chapter 10). For the moment let us look at a fairly
common example at the level of course design.
A need analysis reveals that the ESP learners need English in order to be able to
read texts in their subject specialism. They have no need to write, speak or listen to
English. Their sole need is to read English texts. If we followed a language-centered
or skill-centered approach to course design, we might conclude that ESP lessons
would concern themselves only with the activity of reading texts. There would be no
listening work; all discussion would be in the native language and writing tasks would
be minimal. This would be a logical application of the models for course design above
(figure 18 and 19). But if we took a learning-centered approach, we would need to
ask further question and consider other factor, before determining the content and
methodology of the course.
Course design is negotiation process in which both the target situation influences the
features of the syllabus and also it's a dynamic process in which means and
recourses vary from time to time. Despite the fact of being: a language, learning, or
skills- centered approach; making the ESP course as dynamic and flexible as much
as possible is the most important thing. Hence, a clear understanding of students‟
needs and the demands of the target situation will serve in developing the
appropriate materials and methodologies needed to function effectively in a given

II) Design a suitable criterion for the selection of material for an

ESP course.
Some teachers may use the same ESP material for different classes ignoring the
variation among different classrooms.
Also, some of them may use the same material in all lectures. In this situation, students
will get bored and may hate this class. That is why appropriate ESP materials selection
would be important and can play a crucial role in ESP lesson planning. Ellis and
Johnson (1994) distinguish between two levels of materials selection. The first one
occurs at the beginning of the course when teachers suggest their course books and
materials. The second level occurs when the teacher is going to select items from the
chosen course book.
Authenticity vs Simplicity:
Authentic texts are very important in showing real language use though it is sometimes
difficult to find appropriate ones. In fact, most teachers prefer to use them.
“Authentic material is any kind of material taken from the real world and not specifically
created for the purpose of language teaching.” (Ellis and Johnson, ibid, p.157).
Authentic materials are those taken as they are in the original or natural sources. “It has
been traditionally supposed that the language presented to learners should be simplified
in some way for easy access and acquisition.
There arerecommendations that the language presented should be authentic.”
(Widdowson, 1990, p.67) Many people prefer such classroom resources because of
their natural language use and explanations, as stated in Longman Dictionary of
Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics.
Criteria for ESP Materials Selection:
It seems that most, if not all, ESP lessons include the use of an ESP material or
series of materials. Not all students enjoy them and not all lessons provide appropriate
ESP materials selection.
There is no rule for selecting or adapting them but some said that following specific
criteria may make it easier for them. Paul (1996) proposes a division of the lesson into
two parts:
Educational and fun sections:
Selecting materials for ESP students does not resemble the same as selecting for
general English students which need only print, audio, and video materials as Ellis and
Johnson (op.cit) point out. For ESP teachers, the selection extends the use of what is
available. Sometimes, they need to adapt or look for over the shelf materials in order to
help ESP students achieve their aims. When doing so, they need to respect certain
Types of learners and their language level:
Ellis and Johnson (ibid) explain the criteria for selecting ESP materials: types of learners
and their language level, relevance, learners’ age and cultural background, and
appropriateness of methodology or style.
Emphasis the distinction between different types of learners and their
language level:
Moreover, they emphasis the distinction between different types of learners and their
language level; pre-experience learners and job-experienced learners. Relevance of
language and skills is the second key element that must be respected when selecting
Respect learners’ age and cultural background:
Another important criterion is to respect learners’ age and cultural background. In other
words, types of activities differ among groups of different age, background knowledge
and cultural features.
Methodology or style for learners:
The last element is the appropriateness of methodology or style for learners. In other
words, “the trainer should experiment to find out an approach to use with a particular
group and then select activities accordingly.” (Ellis and Johnson, ibid, P.127).
Adequacy the selected materials should contain appropriate language and information
about the course.
They should present interesting content in order to help students be active and work
hard in order to understand better. This criterion should be respected in order to make
students’ work more effective.

It is important to have materials that are related to the lecture. There must be a relation
to previous texts, activities, topics not to miss the sense of a lesson.

The selected material should lead to a range of classroom activities, be a vehicle for
teaching specific language structure and vocabulary, and promote strategies. •
It should contain acceptable cultural customs and language.

It has been often observed that ESP is a materials-led movement and that part of
the role of the ESP practitioner is to write appropriate materials to meet the needs of
the target learner group. The author argues here that though materials development
is a very important element of ESP practice, designing them from scratch is best
regarded as the last resort. It seems only justified when all other possibilities of
providing learners with English for Specific Purposes needs-specific materials have
been exhausted. Making an attempt at the selection of appropriate materials, it is
important that ESP practitioners become familiar with ESP textbooks currently
available on the market. In the case of well-established disciplines, such as banking
or accounting, for example, teachers can choose from a wide range of off-the-shelf
ESP textbooks that are well grounded in recent research and replete with authentic
target community or workplace data. This does not seem the case with younger
subject areas (e.g. logistics, music), for which there only very few or no subject-
specific textbooks available. To provide learners with the materials catering for their
specific needs, many ESP teachers are confronted with the challenge of designing
tailor-made materials, adapting materials originally designed for other purposes or
editing published materials related to a given subject area.). It is also indispensable
that they have various contacts and experiences in the target setting (e.g. clinics in
various healthcare settings). Since the majority of ESP teachers are not experts in
the target field, it seems that the more experiences they have in the target setting
and the more they know about it, the more efficient they are likely to be in defining
the course objectives and selecting appropriate materials for it. In the cases when
there are not subject-specific ESP materials currently available or when published
materials can only be drawn on selectively, language instructors are left no choice
but to develop new ones.

Question N0. 4
(i) Discuss in detail the theoretical and practical significance of
analysis of learner’s needs in an ESP course design.
Any vocationally-oriented course must be based on the fundamentalissue of “what
learners need to do with English” (Dudley-Evans, 1997:5).Some authors even go as
far as to ‘suggest that needs analysis is in fact a crucial feature of ESP courses, cf.
Basturkmen (2013), who argues that “needs analysis is [...] a defining, if not the
defining, characteristic of LSP” .Needs analysis bridges the classroom situation,
typically characterized by the presence of pre-service (rather than in-service)
students, and the target environment, in which the newly acquired language skills
will be used by course participants. It could be said that course content is – ideally –
built around a series of steps that gradually build up the students’ linguistic
competencies and skills, eventually leading them to perform well or at least helping
them to get a good start in the future target situation.
Assessing the future needs of students requires an informed analysis of their target
communicative situation(s). As Nunan (1988:44) points out,“[o]objective needs
analysis results in content specifications derived from an analysis of the target
communicative situations in which learners are likely to find themselves.” However,
he goes as far as to suggest that “being derived from an analysis of the target
language situation, they can be carried out in the absence of the learner” (1988:44).
While that may be too extreme a view, it will be noted later on that the self-
perceived needs that the participants in vocationally-oriented ESP courses may
declare do not necessarily square with the actual linguistic requirements that they
will be exposed to in the target professional situations. Yet, the students’
preferences should not be ignored because the preferences are reflected in learner
factor analysis are important in contributing to learners’ motivation. At the same
time, however, the instructors may not have a much clearer idea of the future
professional needs of their students either (cf. Eslami, 2010:7).
Identifying what the target communicative situations may be is no easy matter. The
situations tend to be quite complex and diverse, as well as of-ten foreign to the
ESP/ELP practitioner. The complexity of the situation is noted by Dudley-Evans
(1997:5), who considers “three aspects, i.e. needs analysis, the analysis of the
genres and language related to these needs, and the use of the methodology of the
disciplines or professions it is serving for at least some of the time in materials in the
classroom, as the absolute characteristics of ESP that distinguish it from other
branches of English Language Teaching.” The underlying methodologies refer to
the frequent use of certain methods in particular areas, such as problem solving in
engineering, case studies in business, and information extraction and interpretation
in law. Moreover, students will need English to meet not only their professional but
also educational needs, i.e. the educational requirements set by their institutions.
This involves reading books, processing cases, writing essays, locating information,
etc. in English. Generally speaking, the ESP practitioner is there “to service the
English language needs of particular communities” (Aurelia, 2012:5479).Needs
analysis is directly related to the design of ESP courses. It is clear that “the
importance of needs analysis lies in the potential of its findings to inform the
development of the syllabus of the LSP course in question” (Basturkmen, 2013). Let
us therefore consider the issue of where course in-structures can obtain relevant
information about their students’ needs. The next section deals with the role of
respondents in needs analysis by concentrating on how they fit into the design of
language courses in general and legal ESP courses in particular
Needs analysis of the target communicative situation(s) is crucial for designing a
balanced syllabus. An ESP/ELP language course must include a selection of varied,
representative topics while addressing all the relevant skills. There are multiple
stakeholders, who all have some role –direct as well as indirect – in the design of
the course syllabus.
These include the teacher, the students, the current/future employers, the
administration of the educational institution, etc. The multiple stakeholder
perspective is also clearly articulated by Huhta et al. (2013:10), who, when
referencingRobinson (1991), points out that “[n]eeds may be investigated from thep
erspective of teachers, that of the learners or that of the employers who are funding
the language course.”As regards teachers, there are a number of ways in which
language instructors can choose topics for inclusion in their language courses.
Some teachers prefer to follow the pattern of specialized (content-oriented) classes,
even though that approach is certainly not methodologically appropriate from the
perspective of an ESP practitioner. Yet, it is sometimes the case that a lawyer –
most typically a native speaker of English – is asked to teach an ELP class and
ends up teaching law in English rather than explicitly addressing specific language
skills related to the students’ future target situations .Apart from such content-
oriented teaching, some instructors may preferto adopt an existing course book.
The use of a course book has many clear

a logical structure, a balanced mix of skills, the existence of a teacher’s book and
accompanying multi-media materials, etc. Yet, many ESP/ELP classes tend be so
specific that it may be difficult to find an ideal course book for a particular group of
students: the existing course books are either designed to meet the specific needs
of a very narrow community of learners (e.g. in a certain country/university) or they
address ‘universal ’international audiences to the extent that can be too general and
may need to be complemented with additional customized materials by the teacher.
It is also sometimes the case that an ESP/ELP course is based on theteacher’s
While the teacher may justify this intuitive approach byclaiming that they ‘know their
students best’, this typically results in anunbalanced syllabus that is not ideally
geared towards the students’ currentor future needs. Where language instructors
lack prior experience with theprofessional environment themselves, the intuitive
approach results in pureguesswork about their students’ needs. Needless to say,
since pre-service students may likewise have an imprecise idea about their future
professional environment, an ill-conceived intuitive syllabus may not be immediately
evident as such.
The situation, however, is likely to be different with in-service students, who may be
quick to point out discrepancies between the course design and their actual needs
in the target situations. In-service students, as a rule, are also active in coming up
with specific topics, cases and materials.

(ii) Discuss the significant role performed by an ESP teacher in the

successful implementation of course.
“Language Teachers for Specific Purposes have a lot in common with teachers of
general foreign language. For both it is necessary to consider linguistic
development and teaching theories, to have insights in contemporary ideas
regarding their own position and role as well as the position and role of foreign
language learners in education and to face new technologies offered as an aid to
improve their methodology.”(Madhavilantha, 2014, p. 73)Considering the adult
learning tendencies of ESP learners /participants, Sifakis (2003) has declared that
the role of ESP teachers has become all-encompassing and challenging. Dudley-
Evans and St. John(1998, p. 13) have contended that “we regard ESP teaching as
extremely varied, and for this reason we use the term “practitioner” rather than
teacher to emphasize that ESP work involves much more than teaching”. They have
identified the following five key roles for ESP practitioners who need to discharge
their work as
1) Teacher;
2) Course designer and material provider;
3) Collaborator;
4) Researcher;
5) Evaluator;
The role of an ESP practitioner as a teacher "becomes more pronounced as the
teaching becomes more specific" (Dudley-Evans and St.John, 1998, p. 13) because
he has to bear the extra burden of the content area of the learners. This makes his
role more challenging by virtue of the fact that “the teacher is not in the position of
being the 'primary knower' of the carrier content ---- The students may in many
cases, ----, know more about the content than the teacher" (ibid., p.
13).Goonetilleke (1989, p. 45) has mentioned that it is not very easy to find the
teachers who “know English as well as the subject of the students”. ESP teaching
demands well-trained teachers but research has reported that the number of such
ESP practitioners is much below the required strength indifferent countries which is
the main reason behind ineffective ESP teaching. Furthermore, the chances of ESP
teacher education programs seem non-existent (Chen, 2006). Research has
reported that action research is a useful tool for teacher development (Chen, 2000
cf. Stringer, 1996) and several research studies have offered insights into its
primary goal: to foster teachers’ ability to reflect, improve their teaching and grow in
personal professionalism (Nunan, 1997; Richards and Lockhart, 1994; Palmer and
Posteguillo, 1997; Dudley-Evans, 1997). It has been reported that identification of
adult learners’ perception regarding the qualities of an ideal teacher is significant
because “Teachers play a pivotal role in facilitating the learning process and their
success mainly depends on those behaviors that help them achieve the aspired
learning outcomes such as high grades, positive attitudes towards learning and
enhanced learning skills” (Javid, 2014c, p. 42).
The study was an attempt to identify personality and ability characteristics of ideal
English language teachers as perceived by Saudi ESP learners and the findings
suggested that “those English language teachers are considered ideal who have the
capacity to motivate their students to exploit their latent potential to achieve
enhanced learning possibilities.” (p. 42).Dudley-Evans (1997, p. 10) has stated that
ESP teaching goes beyond teaching just language and it also involves teaching
skills related to “macro-skills” of four language skills such as “importance of listening
or reading for meaning, the importance of writing for an audience”. Other research
studies have also highlighted this “heavy demand” of not only having “a knowledge
of the language of scientific discourse but also an awareness of the technical
subject” (Gunawardena and Knight, 1989, p. 111). Hull, (2004, p. 1) has identified
the role of an ESP practitioner as “a facilitator rather than presenter of content”. It
has been argued that ESP teachers are not “specialists in the field, but in teaching
A professional ESP teacher should have this ability to get ready to teach the
students from one professional field to another without spending months. An
experienced ESP practitioner only carries the required "tools, frameworks, and
principles of course design" and applies them to new content subjects. Course
designing and providing relevant materials is one of the most important aspects of
ESP teaching. The needs of ESP learners are specific and ready-made teaching
materials do not suit their learning objectives. Dudley-Evans (1997, p. 10) has
chosen the term “material provider” to emphasize that “the ESP teacher should
survey what is available, select units from a number of course books adapting these
if necessary, and write a number of extra units”. This job becomes rather more
challenging because usually “ESP teachers find themselves in a situation where
they are expected to produce a course that exactly matches the needs of a group of
learners, but are expected to do so with no, or very limited, preparation time"
(Jones,1990, p. 91). Identification and analysis of present and target situation is the
first and foremost responsibility of an ESP practitioner. ESP learners have specific
needs which are necessary to be determined because “every ESP practitioner has
had similar experience showing that teachers’ perception of relevance do not
necessarily match those of their students” (Adams-Smith,1989 cf. Dudley-Evans,
1983, p. 66). It has been argued that these are not the needs of the students
that ESP practitioners are supposed to consider but theyhave to know “the ESP
ecosystem” as a whole
Gunawardena and Knight (1989) have stated that ESP programsshould be
developed by considering the requirements of the institutions along with the needs
of the students. ESP course designing needs to consider all the above-mentioned
diverse factors. ESP practitioners need to select or even write appropriate teaching
material according to the students and institutional demands. Role of ESP teachers
as 'providers of material' thus involves choosing suitable published material,
adapting material when published material is not suitable, or even writing material
where nothing suitable exists. (Dudley-Evans and St. John,1998, p. 15).This makes
ESP teaching very demanding, especially for someone who is new to this kind of
teaching, but "such demands” provide them with a lot of space to maneuver and
innovate. Challenging nature of ESP teaching calls for an extremely professional
behavior on part of ESP teachers who need to update their knowledge by remaining
constantly in touch with the research in the various fields of ESP. "Those carrying
out NA, designing a course, or writing teaching materials need to be able to
incorporate the findings of the research”(Dudley-Evans and St. John, 1998, p. 15).
They have suggested that an ESP practitioner has to go beyond the first stage of
NA and has to "be able to carry out research to understand the discourse of the
texts that students use"(ibid., p. 15). This clearly suggests that action research as
well as keeping oneself abreast with the ongoing research in the field of ESP is
extremely necessary for ESP practitioners (Nunan, 1990).Dudley-Evans and St.
John (1998) have asserted that the specific work of ESP teaching should be dealt
with thorough content subject specialists' collaboration. This collaboration may
involve simple cooperation to find out about the subject syllabus or it may involve
specific collaboration by actually including "the actual content of a subject course by
exploiting texts in English that present additional relevant material" (ibid., p. 15) and
this collaboration may extend to the level that "a specialist checks and comments
on the content of teaching materials that the ESP teacher has prepared” (ibid., p.
15). They have rather gone to the extent of expecting the "fullest collaboration"
where subject specialists and ESP teachers collaborate in "team-teach classes
".ESP practitioners’ role as counselors and motivators is also seemed mandatory
because they deal with adult learners.

(i) Differentiate between learners needs in terms of lacks and
(ii) Devise a model for an ESP course evaluation.

TYPES OF NEEDS: Hutchinson and Waters identify two types of needs

Types of Needs (Hutchinson and Waters 1987)
 Needs
 Target Needs
 Necessities
 Lacks
 Want
 Learning Needs
According to Hutchinson and Waters (1987) target needs are mainly related to
„what the learner need to do in the target situation‟. In order to answer this
statement, ESP practitioner should also gather information about learners‟
necessities, lacks and wants.

 Necessities. Are the academic or occupational requirements of the target

situation, that is, what the learner has to know in order to function effectively in the
target situation? Accordingly, needs “are perhaps more appropriately described as
objectives” (Robinson, 1991: 7) to be achieved.

 Lacks. Are what the learners already know and what they are deficient in, i.e
what they ignore or cannot perform in English? Subsequently, lacks are the gaps
between the initial or actual situation of the learners in terms of language proficiency
or aptitudes, and the one which is required after the accomplishment of the
language training.

 Wants. Are learners‟ personal expectations and hopes towards acquiring

English, i.e. what they would like to gain from the language course. Usually these
needs are very personal; therefore they are sometimes called 'subjective'. In fact,
these wants are very real, and may conflict with the necessities as perceived by the
employer. Therefore ways must be found to accommodate them. In this respect,
individuals‟ wants cannot all be accounted for; however, the wants of the majority
can be discussed and partially met.
Learning needs involve an answer to the question: How are we going to the
destination? They can be defined as: “Factors that affect the learning like attitude,
motivation, awareness, personality, learning styles and strategies, together with the
social background" (Xiao, 2007:2). Learning needs concerns about the route
between the starting point (lacks) and the destination (necessities). For examples,
learners may be greatly motivated in the subject or work, but may completely lose
interests with the long, boring, and old teaching material. The learning process
should be enjoyable, fulfilling, manageable, and generative. It is not concerned with
knowing, but with the learning. The concept of “learning needs” put forward by
Hutchinson & Waters and their analysis of “learning needs” have been proved to be
fairly useful in practice because learning needs clarify the means through which
learners proceed to achieve their target needs starting with realizing their lacks. As a
result, in the process of leaning, learner’s needs should always be taken into
consideration. Course designers need to analyze the learner‟ learning needs
according to their motivation, the conditions of the learning situation, and their
existing knowledge and skills.
Needs analysis has been introduced into language teaching in the 1960‟s
through ESP movement. It is a set of procedures for collecting information about
learners needs. Understanding learners‟ needs can contribute to successful course
planning. Hence, the Purpose of Needs Analysis is:
 To find out what language skills a learner needs
 To help determine if an existing course adequately addresses the needs of
potential students
 To determine which students are most in need for training in particular
language skills
 To identify students lacks
 To identify students wants and expectations
 To collect information about a particular problem learners are experiencing.
In ESP, identifying what a course should contain and how it should be run is
determined by the use of different sources and methods to gather data about the
situation. The table below illustrates the main sources and methods for needs
analysis. Sources for NAs Methods of NA Published & unpublished literature
Participating or administrative stuffs (materials) Former students Learners Teachers
Domain experts (ESP researchers, linguists, subject specialists) Triangulated
sources Interviews Participant observation non participant observation
Questionnaires Triangulated methods.

(ii) Devise a model for an ESP course evaluation.

Program evaluation is crucial in English for Specific Purposes (ESP) because
it measures whether the goals of an ESP program have been met and ensures the
program’s continuous improvement. Despite its importance, the literature on ESP
evaluation is still scarce and somewhat dated (e.g., Hutchinson & Waters, 1987;
McGinley, 1984; Swan, 1986).The reasons for the lack of related ESP evaluation
literature have been attributed to the short duration of ESP courses, difficulties in
implementing the time-consuming program evaluation processes (Swan, 1986), and
the challenges associated with measuring learning transfer from school to the
workplace (James, 2010a).
A useful, though somewhat dated, ESP evaluation approach was presented in
Hutchinson and Waters’ 1987 book, in which two levels of evaluation, course
evaluation and learner assessment, are discussed. For course evaluation, they
suggested that appropriate data be collected in order to understand how learning
needs are being served. To perform learner assessment, they suggested that basic
test types, such as placement, achievement, and proficiency tests,be used.
A more recent model for evaluating language programs is by Watanabe,
Norris, and Gonzalez-Lloret (2009), who developed a comprehensive framework for
foreign language (FL) program evaluation. Different from the Hutchinson and
Waters framework above, this framework considers a cross-section of views
through ananalysis of stakeholders such as policy makers, program designers,
community members (the public and parents), sponsors, program designers,
instructors, and students. An additional important premise of this framework is its
focus on the positive aspects of evaluation, such as a participatory model,
professional accountability, and teacher empowerment.Their approach shifts
language program evaluation from an externally mandated process to an internally
motivated one in which evaluation results are no longer used just for judgment but
also for enabling program participants to benefit fromthe process.
As valuable as these two frameworks are, they do not consider several
important factors, such as authenticity, learner autonomy, and teach
transferthatrecent literature suggests as contributing significantly to the
understanding of language learning (Balwin & Ford, 1988; Clark & Voogel, 1985;
Dickinson, 1995; Gilmore, 2007; Goldstein, 1986; Guariento & Morley 2001, Holec
1981, Nunan 1989, Perclova 2008, Tassinari 2012). Therefore, in this paper, we will
first describe an updated ESP program evaluation framework. The updated
framework combines the Hutchinson and Watersmodel and the FL evaluation
framework. At the same time, it incorporates recent findings from emerging
research on ESP learning and teaching.Next, we report on a project in which we
used this updated ESP framework to evaluate a Taiwan university’s ESP program in
order to identify the strengths and limitations of the framework. Specifically, we
investigated to what extent the framework can help us understand course
evaluation, learner assessment, stakeholders’ concerns, and teacher participation
and empowerment,as discussed in Hutchinson and Waters’ approach and the FL
framework. We also investigated to what extent it can help uncover details of how
key ESP considerations, such as authenticity, learner autonomy, and learner
transfer, figure in ESP teaching and learning. At the same time, we attempted to
discover potential problems with the framework that may make it difficult to
implement in an actual program evaluation process.
1. An updated framework for ESP program evaluation:

Our proposed ESP program evaluation framework, includes a comprehensive list of

elements to consider in ESP program evaluation. Our framework proposes that ESP
program evaluation should be informed by shareholders’ goals and should consist
of at least three components: course evaluation, learner assessment, and teacher
participation and empowerment. The first two parts are adopted from Hutchinson
and Waters’ approach, and the third is taken from the FL model. Although these
elements are adopted from the two existing frameworks, they have been sufficiently
updated. For example, while “learner outcomes” was taken from Hutchinson and
Waters, we renamed it to “learner assessment” to highlight the importance of
utilizing various assessment tools, as we will discuss later. In addition, we added
the elements authenticity, learner autonomy, and transfer of learning to the three
components above. As aforementioned, these have been suggested as important in
language learning.
Course evaluation:
Course evaluation is one of the three components of our proposed ESP
program evaluation framework. In this updated framework, course evaluation entails
seeking answers to these three questions:whether learner needs have been
fulfilled, whether the materials and tasks are authentic, and whether the course has
successfully fostered learner autonomy. Learners’ needs and their fulfillment have
been discussed in detail by Hutchinson & Waters (1987) and are already widely
accepted by ESP scholars. As a result, they are only briefly summarized. The other
two items, authenticity and learner autonomy, are not addressed by Hutchinson &
Waters but are important aspects of ESP courses,
Fulfillment of learner needs. Hutchinson and Waters (1987) believe that the aim of
ESP courses is to meet students’ pragmatic and learning needs and, thus, ESP
program evaluation should find out to what extent ESP classes satisfy both needs. If
the needs are not being met, ESP program administrators and instructors should find
out why. For example, the problem may lie in the syllabus, materials, teaching or
learning techniques, testing tools, administration, or the system of evaluation.
Hutchinson & Waters (1987) also recommend that the following techniques be used
for course evaluation: test results, questionnaires, discussions, interviews, and
informal means, such as after-class comments.
Authenticity. On the importance of authenticity, McDonough (1984) suggests that
the term be applied to many aspects of an ESP course, including language input,
tasks, and events. Authenticity can be assessed in three ways: by examining
materials, tasks, and/or assessments. Since this section focuses on course
evaluation, authentic materials and tasks are discussed. Considerations of authentic
assessment will be explored in 2.3.3., along with other learner assessment tools.
While authenticity is a critical aspect of ESP, opinions vary as to what
constitutes authenticity and whether authentic materials are superior to modified or
simplified materials (Cook, 1997; Gilmore, 2007). The main concern about
introducing authentic texts lies in the difficulties that lower-level students may
encounter when dealing with them. Typical authentic texts tend to contain greater
lexical density, more idiomatic language, low-frequency vocabulary words, and
cultural references (Gilmore, 2007). As a result, students often feel frustrated and
less motivated because the materials are far above their level of comprehension. To
overcome this problem, some researchers have proposed using modified or
simplified texts. To this day, there is no consensus regarding which approach is
better. Proponents of authentic texts believe that, instead of modifying the content
of the text, differentiating the complexity of the tasks associated with it might be a
better approach (Nunan, 1989) and that partial comprehension should be
acceptable because it occurs in real life (Guariento & Morley, 2001). In light of the
debate, Gilmore (2007) suggested that whether a text is taken directly from the
target situations or reproduced for ESP instruction is not as important as long as the
text is able to motivate target learners and that it does not pose problems for
comprehension. Thus, assessment of authentic text should consider not only the
authenticity of the text but whether the text can achieve its intended purposes of
enhancing motivation and comprehensibility.
In addition to the authenticity of materials, which meets students’ language
input needs, the relationship between authentic tasks and contexts also requires
evaluation in an ESP program. Authentic tasks create opportunities for meaningful
output practices.For example, Johns (1988) argues that authentic tasks in the
language classroom are important because they help learners become familiar with
tasks in target situations. Others have also emphasized that the language tasks in
ESP classes should create a genuine purpose and context for negotiating meaning
(Guariento & Morley, 2001; Long & Crookes, 1992). Therefore, in our framework,
ESP program evaluation should determine whether the tasks are authentic by
looking at to what extent the classroom tasks are similar to those that students will
encounter in real-life target situations. The evaluation should also aim to find out if
the language practice in ESP classrooms allows students to learn to negotiate
meaning, another critical skill in academic and professional contexts.
In our updated framework, we propose that the authenticity of materials and
tasks for specific majors be assessedwith input from professors in the target
discipline. Ina workplace context, experienced professionals, specialists, or
managers can also be invited to help with the assessment. In addition, students and
their peers can inform the program on whether the text is motivating or
comprehensible. ESP teachers who have used a textbook can also provide valuable
feedback from their teaching experience.
Learner autonomy. Learner autonomy refers to the learners’ sense of responsibility
for their learning and their ability to be responsible for what they learn (Holec 1979;
Dickinson 1987). Thus, autonomous learners are those who take an active
approach to the learning task and are willing to communicate in the target language
by taking risks. Earlier studies by Holec (1981) and Dickinson (1995) have
demonstrated that successful foreign language acquisition depends on learners
taking responsibility for their own learning. More recently, Little, Hodel, Kohonen,
Meijer, and Perclova’s (2008) book on the European Language Portfolio states that
learner autonomy should also be an important goal of language instruction because
not only does it motivate learning, it also serves as a prerequisite for lifelong
In addition to learner beliefs and attitudes, assessment of learner autonomy
can also include external factors such as the design of the program and the learning
environment. External factor assessment can be used to determine whether the
courses provide learners with opportunities for self-learning and whether they cater
to the individual needs of learners at all levels. An ideal learning environment is one
which allows students to feel free and safe to practice their English skills without
being criticized or ridiculed.
Learner assessment: Learner assessment is similar to that proposed by Hutchinson
and Waters in 1987. It includes the same three types of assessment: placement,
proficiency, and achievement tests.
Placement tests. Placement tests, as Hutchinson and Waters (1987) state,
determine whether learners need the course and, if so, what the learning needs are.
In a university, where the proficiency levels of students vary, placement tests can
ensure that instructors do not have to teach classes of mixed abilities and that
students learn with those of similar proficiency levels. Whereas placement tests are
common in colleges where EGP is taught, for a comprehensive ESP program
placement, testing may result in additional costs associated with testing, curriculum
development, and instructors. In the university where the authors of this paper work,
because the ESP program already divides the student body according to majors,
separating the students further by levels may result in class sizes becoming too small
to meet the university administrators’ requirements.
Proficiency tests. Hutchinson & Waters (1987) and Tratnik (2008) argue that it is
difficult to define the role which proficiency tests should play in ESP. Proficiency tests
are not designed for ESP assessment; however, due to their standardized nature,
they are often used by program sponsors as an independent measure to gauge
students’ progress and to measure the effectiveness of program implementation.
Achievement (authentic) assessment. Whereas proficiency tests evaluate
students’ current capability, achievement tests measure whether students have
learned the skills to meet a given standard. Hutchinson & Waters’ (1987) approach
identifies achievement tests as an important assessment tool. In this framework, the
item “achievement test” is renamed as “authentic assessment” in order to highlight
the importance of authentic materials and actual target situations for tasks in ESP
assessment. Literature related to authentic assessment dates back to the
1970s(Douglas 2000), and recent studies by Gulikers et al. (2004, 2006, 2008) have
contributed to a better understanding of authentic assessment. Tratnik (2008), in her
study of the ESP public examination in Slovenia, proposes that ESP tests should be
characterized by accuracy, beneficial effects, economy in administration, and
Authentic assessment should, therefore, ideally be conducted in a real-life target
situation and not in a decontextualized environment. With this in mind, ESP tests and
curriculums should be developed to minimize the difference between classroom and
target situations in real life. Teachers should avoid tests which assume correct
answers and, instead, focus on tasks which involve information gathering, value
determination, and the deployment of data to achieve a specific purpose (Douglas
Teacher participation and empowerment: Data obtained from program evaluation
should be framed in a way that enables the professional accountability and
empowerment of ESP practitioners. In doing so, the FL framework aims to shift
program assessment from an externally mandated process to an internally motivated
process. In other words, the evaluation data are no longer used exclusively for
judgment but also for multiple uses such as helping planners and instructors learn
from the program assessment process. In order to assess teacher participation and
empowerment, the FL framework recommends utilizing teacher surveysand
interviews. We built such a recommendation into our framework.
Teacher participation and empowerment can be examined from three perspectives:
perceived organizational support, decision making, and job satisfaction (Scherie,
2002). To assess whether the organization provides a supportive and democratic
climate, data need to be collected to determine whether teachers are aware of the
aim of the program, whether they have a say on how the program was run or how
they are being evaluated, and whether there are regular meetings to maintain
professional relationships in the program or to negotiate any differences between
program administrators and teachers.