Stephen van Vlack Sookmyung Women’s University Graduate School of TESOL

Table of Content

What are the four stages of ESP?

The emergence of ESP as a distinct approach in ELT can be attributed to four stages. The current ESP approach has evolved from advancements in the following areas. Similarly, ESP relies on employing the same types of analysis. To create and implement an ESP course effectively, the designer must thoroughly analyze all these different factors.

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The concept of register analysis, which we discussed in class last week, is based on the understanding that people adapt their language use in different situations. This idea dates back to the 1960s when researchers started exploring the social aspects of language. They discovered that individuals can change their speech patterns multiple times throughout a single day.

Every time the test subjects entered a new situation, their language would adapt to fit the specific context. This phenomenon, known as register analysis, explores these language changes. Interestingly, researchers discovered that many of these changes were influenced by the subjects’ occupations or actions. It is worth noting that actions are not isolated occurrences, but rather occur within groups. Therefore, groups can be defined to some extent by the actions they collectively perform.

An important indicator of group membership is the ability to adapt one’s language register to match the approved register of the group. This entails using distinct vocabulary items specific to each group, as well as employing formulaic expressions and potentially adopting different structural uses of language. All of these linguistic patterns serve as behavioral markers, allowing group members to easily discern who belongs to the group and who does not.

The way ESP has approached this issue is somewhat distinctive because, even though the concept of register analysis is not new, the idea of teaching different registers for specific purposes is unique. In ESP, an important objective in designing a curriculum is to equip students with the forms they will actually need (a specific register) in particular situations or groups where they may operate or function. Furthermore, training materials for mechanics, computer engineers, and even academics are created based on the fundamental concept of register. However, in order to accomplish this, one must first analyze the register. An ESP practitioner must have a fairly good understanding of how the register they will be teaching is constructed.

Analysis, whether it is rhetorical or discourse analysis, builds upon the concept of register analysis. While register analysis emphasizes particular vocabulary and sentence-level grammar and structure, rhetorical analysis examines how language is organized on a broader level above the sentence. In this context, the crucial aspect is organization.

The observation was made some time ago that various professions necessitate distinct ways of organizing language usage. This pertains to both spoken and written language. In terms of spoken language, the focus is primarily on transactions. It is indeed the case that different professions entail engaging in various types of transactions, and these transactions often follow a fixed formula. Therefore, it should be feasible for teachers to teach their students specific transactional formulas that they will eventually need to use for their own benefit.

In written form, we discuss the organization and structure of writing. Creative writing, such as narratives, requires a different structure than reports, expository writing, linguistic analysis, or other specific fields. Students in this program should notice that books on different topics or subjects are written in different styles. This is what rhetorical analysis focuses on – different organizational styles. ESP trains students to emulate these styles for their current or future job.

A target situation analysis is closely connected to a needs analysis but is slightly more general as it focuses on the actual tasks a student needs to perform rather than the specific forms or their organization, as previously mentioned.

A target situation analysis emphasizes the importance of understanding the specific situations individuals encounter and how they must respond linguistically and non-linguistically in order to succeed. Unlike previous analyses that tend to be more generalized and hypothetical, a target situation analysis is personalized and tailored to an individual’s specific needs and job requirements. This analysis identifies the situations in which they will find themselves and ensures that the appropriate forms are matched to specific functions.

The ESP practitioner’s focus is on determining how a student can maximize the benefits of the aforementioned analyses. The teacher’s concern lies in the internal thought processes involved. It is crucial to understand how students will learn and apply these various elements in real-life situations, and what strategies they will need to employ to do so. Therefore, the ESP practitioner is primarily concerned with converting knowledge into practical application, utilizing a skills approach.

What is the difference between the fifth stage mentioned by Hutchinson and Waters and the other phases?

Hutchinson and Waters identified the fifth stage as learner centeredness. We discussed this aspect extensively last week and noted that it is a fundamental principle of the ESP approach. Learner centeredness can be viewed as a guiding influence rather than a mandatory requirement in ESP.

In the teaching of English, a teacher-centered approach is rarely possible, but in ESP (English for Specific Purposes), this is strongly discouraged. While all language teaching acknowledges the importance of learner-centeredness to some extent, ESP takes this idea even further, almost making it the foundation of the approach. Learner-centeredness in ESP involves incorporating research on general learning mechanisms, which diverges from the traditional linguistic argument and aligns with the “language as a skill” approach. The remaining content of the ESP book focuses on describing and providing a model for this learner-centered approach, so we will have to wait and see what it entails precisely.

Why is ESP considered an approach rather than a product?

The ESP approach to teaching English differs greatly from standard approaches as it prioritizes practical application over the outcome. While learners and their families in Korea, and elsewhere, often emphasize the results of formal exams, this is not aligned with the ESP method of language learning and teaching.

The main philosophy of ESP is similar to a task-based approach. In ESP, the focus is on placing a student in a specific situation and observing their reaction. There is no right or wrong way to react; there are various ways, some more successful than others. While an ESP teacher aims to guide students towards more successful solutions, the ability to respond in any way to a specific situation is considered positive in ESP.

ESP is not a language-oriented product, but rather a teaching method designed around specific goals and needs. In ESP, the analysis and attention of practitioners or teachers should be on the practice and not on the language produced. The success of ESP is measured in a holistic, task-based manner. While feedback is provided, the main emphasis in ESP lies on the tasks and whether the students are able to complete them in any manner. Everything else is of secondary importance. This forms the foundation of ESP.

What sets the language of business apart from other uses of language?

As previously mentioned, ESP courses are typically very specialized. However, the business world is a unique case. The term “world” emphasizes that business encompasses all aspects and cannot easily be categorized like ESP courses (such as English for Teaching). Consequently, setting up business courses that are as specific as ESP courses proves challenging. Additionally, determining the content for business courses is also tricky since each company has its own distinct practices.

Business and economics are different entities, with business being broader and less defined. While economics is a scientific field with rules and theories, business focuses on specific skills, strategy development, and general communication objectives. This distinction sets it apart from ESL and emphasizes the importance of skill acquisition in the business domain.

Who are the target learners for business English and what is their difference?

The basic learners for business English are either students/people who are planning to work in the business field (pre-experienced people) or (experienced) workers in companies. The difference between how the business English teacher deals with these two groups lies primarily in the degree of specificity of their respective needs. Pre-experienced people are those who are still studying, possibly business management but maybe something else, and they have an interest in possibly joining the greater business world in the future, after graduation. They really have no idea what their goals are. They just want to learn business English, whatever that is so they can get a leg up on the competition.

The uncertain nature of their specific needs prevents them from having a highly specified job. However, experienced individuals in the business world have accumulated knowledge in their specialized field and have a clear understanding of their desired outcomes from the course. They are aware of their responsibilities and areas for improvement, which enables them to set clear goals. Additionally, experienced learners possess a well-developed cognitive structure that is relevant to their present or past occupations.

Where is business English usually taught?

In many cases, business English is not taught in schools or language institutes. It is typically taught in companies or specialized organizations like the Federation for Korean Industries (FKI). As a result, business English teachers often lack support or guidance.

Business English teachers often lack resources that schoolteachers or hagwon teachers have, such as access to a photocopy machine and the ability to recruit students. The teaching environment may also be lacking in basic amenities like a chalkboard, an OHP, or a projector. Additionally, these teachers often find themselves teaching a mixed group of employees in a single business English class, making it challenging to determine what exactly to teach. Furthermore, since the teacher is unaware of the students’ backgrounds in advance, planning the course becomes quite difficult.

Teaching business English can be particularly challenging in terms of materials development as many places prefer not to use commercial books. Hence, instructors often have to create their own materials. Furthermore, business English teachers frequently need to be flexible and travel between different locations to meet the specific needs of individual customers, rather than having students come to a fixed classroom. The combination of these various challenges contributes to the high level of stress associated with teaching business English.

What qualifications are necessary to become a business English teacher?

In summary, the challenges faced by business English teachers demand a higher degree of independence and resourcefulness compared to teachers of General English. The dynamic nature of business English requires individualized attention for each student. Selling skills are crucial for these teachers as they must effectively market themselves and their expertise in both the business industry and the English language. To meet the expectations of employers, business English teachers must embody the desired professional image.

Business English teachers should resemble successful business people because, in reality, they are. Many of these teachers run their own personal businesses, similar to highly sought-after private tutors.

What are the main focuses of business English and how are they emphasized?

The book discusses the importance of lowering the affective filter as part of the communicative approach. However, this is not the sole focus of the approach. The communicative approach is centered around integrating specific functions into the curriculum.

In a communicative class, functions are often aimless. In a business English course, we aim to structure our class around functions that have a clear and direct purpose in the real or academic world. Business English teachers design tasks with practical communicative purposes so that students can apply what they learn immediately after class.

Cite this page

Stephen van Vlack Sookmyung Women’s University Graduate School of TESOL. (2016, Dec 25). Retrieved from

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