Posted by : Clamp School Monday, 9 July 2012
INSTRUCTIONAL APPROACHES IN ESP
1. Characteristics of ESP Courses
The characteristics of ESP courses identified by Carter, D., (1983) are discussed here. He states that there are three features common to ESP courses: a) authentic material, b) purpose-related orientation, and c) self-direction.
If we revisit Dudley-Evans' claim that ESP should be offered at an intermediate or advanced level, use of authentic learning materials is entirely feasible. Closer examination of ESP materials will follow; suffice it to say at this juncture that use of authentic content materials, modified or unmodified in form, are indeed a feature of ESP, particularly in self-directed study and research tasks. For Language Preparation for Employment in the Health Sciences, a large component of the student evaluation was based on an independent study assignment in which the learners were required to investigate and present an area of interest. The students were encouraged to conduct research using a variety of different resources, including the Internet.
Purpose-related orientation refers to the simulation of communicative tasks required of the target setting. Carter, D., (1983) cites student simulation of a conference, involving the preparation of papers, reading, note taking, and writing. At Algonquin College, English for business courses have involved students in the design and presentation of a unique business venture, including market research, pamphlets and logo creation. The students have presented all final products to invited ESL classes during a poster presentation session. For our health science program, students attended a seminar on improving your listening skills. They practiced listening skills, such as listening with empathy, and then employed their newly acquired skills during a fieldtrip to a local community centre where they were partnered up with English-speaking residents.
Finally, self-direction is characteristic of ESP courses in that the " ... point of including self-direction ... is that ESP is concerned with turning learners into users" (Carter, D., 1983 : 134). In order for self-direction to occur, the learners must have a certain degree of freedom to decide when, what, and how they will study. He also adds that there must be a systematic attempt by teachers to teach the learners how to learn by teaching them about learning strategies. Is it necessary, though, to teach high-ability learners such as those enrolled in the health science program about learning strategies? Rather, what is essential for these learners is learning how to access information in a new culture.
2. The Meaning of the Word 'Special' in ESP
One simple clarification will be made here: special language and specialized aim are two entirely different notions. G, Perren. (1974) he was noted that confusion arises over these two notions. If we revisit Mackay and Mountford's restricted repertoire, we can better understand the idea of a special language. R, Mackay and Mountford, J.A., (1978: 4) state:
“The only practical way in which we can understand the notion of special language is as a restricted repertoire of words and expressions selected from the whole language because that restricted repertoire covers every requirement within a well-defined context, task or vocation.”
On the other hand, a specialized aim refers to the purpose for which learners learn a language, not the nature of the language they learn. Consequently, the focus of the word 'special' in ESP ought to be on the purpose for which learners learn and not on the specific jargon or registers they learn.