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Posted by : Clamp School Saturday, 7 July 2012


CHAPTER II
TYPES AND CHARACTERISTICS OF ESP


A.     Types of ESP

Carter, David (1983) identifies three types of ESP:
  • English as a restricted language
  • English for Academic and Occupational Purposes
  • English with specific topics.

            The language used by air traffic controllers or by waiters are examples of English as a restricted language. R, Mackay and Mountford, J.A., (1978: 4-5) clearly illustrate the difference between restricted language and language with this statement:
... the language of international air-traffic control could be regarded as 'special', in the sense that the repertoire required by the controller is strictly limited and can be accurately determined situational, as might be the linguistic needs of a dining-room waiter or air-hostess. However, such restricted repertoires are not languages, just as a tourist phrase book is not grammar. Knowing a restricted 'language' would not allow the speaker to communicate effectively in novel situation, or in contexts outside the vocational environment.
            The second type of ESP identified by Carter, D., (1983) is English for Academic and Occupational Purposes. In the 'Three of ELT' (T. Hutchinson & Waters, A., 1987), ESP is broken down into three branches: a) English for Science and Technology (EST), b) English for Business and Economics (EBE), and c) English for Social Studies (ESS). Each of these subject areas is further divided into two branches: English for Academic Purposes (EAP) and English for Occupational Purposes (EOP). An example of EOP for the EST branch is 'English for Technicians' whereas an example of EAP for the EST branch is 'English for Medical Studies'.
            T. Hutchinson and Waters, A., (1987 : 16) do note that there is not a clear-cut distinction between EAP and EOP: "· people can work and study simultaneously; it is also likely that in many cases the language learnt for immediate use in a study environment will be used later when the student takes up, or returns to, a job."  Perhaps this explains Carter's rationale for categorizing EAP and EOP under the same type of ESP. It appears that Carter is implying that the end purpose of both EAP and EOP are one in the same: employment. However, despite the end purpose being identical, the means taken to achieve the end is very different indeed.
            The third and final type of ESP identified by Carter, D., (1983) is English with specific topics. Carter notes that it is only here where emphasis shifts from purpose to topic. This type of ESP is uniquely concerned with anticipated future English needs of, for example, scientists requiring English for postgraduate reading studies, attending conferences or working in foreign institutions. However, this is not a separate type of ESP. Rather it is an integral component of ESP courses or programs which focus on situational language. This situational language has been determined based on the interpretation of results from needs analysis of authentic language used in target workplace settings.

B.     Absolute and Variable Characteristics of ESP

            Ten years later, theorists T. Dudley-Evans and St. John, M. (1998) modified Strevens' original definition of ESP to form their own. Let us begin with P, Strevens, (1988). He defined ESP by identifying its absolute and variable characteristics. He’s definition makes a distinction between four absolute and two variable characteristics:
1.   Absolute characteristics:
ESP consists of English language teaching which is:
§  designed to meet specified needs of the learner;
§  related in content (i.e. in its themes and topics) to particular disciplines, occupations and activities;
§  centered on the language appropriate to those activities in syntax, lexis, discourse, semantics, etc., and analysis of this discourse;
§  in contrast with General English.

2.   Variable characteristics:
ESP may be, but is not necessarily:
§  restricted as to the language skills to be learned (e.g. reading only);
§  not taught according to any pre-ordained methodology.
            L. Anthony, (1997) notes that there has been considerable recent debate about what ESP means despite the fact that it is an approach which has been widely used over the last three decades. At a 1997 Japan Conference on ESP, T. Dudley-Evans and St John, M. (1998) offered a modified definition. The revised definition he and St. John said as follows:
a)   Absolute Characteristics
§  ESP is defined to meet specific needs of the learner;
§  ESP makes use of the underlying methodology and activities of the discipline it serves;
§  ESP is centered on the language (grammar, lexis, and register), skills, discourse and genres appropriate to these activities.

b)   Variable Characteristics
§  ESP may be related to or designed for specific disciplines;
§  ESP may use, in specific teaching situations, a different methodology  from that of general English;
§  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;
§  ESP is generally designed for intermediate or advanced students;
§  Most ESP courses assume some basic knowledge of the language system, but it can be used with beginners.
            T. Dudley-Evans and St. John, M. have removed the absolute characteristic that 'ESP is in contrast with General English' and added more variable characteristics. They assert that ESP is not necessarily related to a specific discipline. Furthermore, ESP is likely to be used with adult learners although it could be used with young adults in a secondary school setting.
            As for a broader definition of ESP, T. Hutchinson and Waters, A., (1987:19) theorize, "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." L. Anthony (1997) notes that, it is not clear where ESP courses end and general English courses begin; numerous non-specialist ESL instructors use an ESP approach in that their syllabi are based on analysis of learner needs and their own personal specialist knowledge of using English for real communication.

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