An ESP Project of the Incoming TESOL ESP-IS Chair

Hello, ESPers worldwide!

One of the benefits of being on the steering committee of the ESP Interest Section is that you are able to meet all of the other leaders. In previous blog posts, I have focused on current and former chairs of the ESP-IS including (in order of service) David Kertzner, Najma Janjua, Yinghuei Chen, and Kristin Ekkens (current chair). (I was chair after David. I am currently community manager.)

In this blog post, it is my pleasure to let you know a bit more about the work of Jaclyn (Jackie) Gishbaugher, who will be chair after the TESOL 2015 convention. In doing so, I will draw upon material in an article that will appear in the next ESP-IS newsletter. (I encourage you to read the entire article in ESP News for important ESP project insights in addition to Jackie’s bio and contact info!)


In Jackie’s forthcoming article, which is cowritten with Robert Eckhart, she describes their ongoing ESP project.

In November 2013, we began meeting with representatives of a large Japanese manufacturer who wanted to centralize their English language training program for transfer employees in North America. The company had been operating here for decades, but each factory had contracted out their own language training for transfer employees, who came from Japan for 2 to 5 years at a time. Local autonomy had its benefits, but after the CEO of their worldwide operations announced that the official language of their company would be English, this raised the stakes for administering a single, cohesive program, and their North American division solicited proposals for a sole organization to provide English language training to all factories in North America. The Ohio State University Combined ESL Programs—in the Department of Teaching and Learning in the College of Education and Human Ecology—submitted a proposal and was selected in early 2014 to offer a technology-based EOP training program.

Our proposal was based on creating online modules tailored for learners at several levels, with the modules about workplace English, everyday/casual English, and TOEIC prep. Borrowing a term from project management, our biggest finding to date is…

Our program reaches more than 300 learners, who are employees at one plant in Canada, 11 in the United States, and 2 in Mexico. They all share Japanese as a first language, but they represent a variety of departments, positions, and English proficiency levels. The client’s goals for the program are three fold: improved workplace communication, increased TOEIC test scores, and a higher quality of life outside of work. It’s an ambitious project, and thus far it has presented a variety of challenges. We’ve woven together best practices from ESP and online learning and come up with some of our own that meet the specific needs of these learners.

[Our] article talks about the four biggest hurdles of creating a totally-online EOP language training program and the effective practices we’ve developed along the way.

When you read their article, you will be able to learn more about four points:

  1. Self-paced Learning vs. Supervisor Reporting
  2. Traditional Learners vs. Nontraditional Learning
  3. Face-to-Face vs. Saving Face
  4. Speaking Needs vs. Reading, Writing, Listening Format

Be sure to read the article when it is published, as I have intentionally omitted much of the content. (You can find issues of ESP News here.)

After you read the article, you will know even more about Jackie’s work, so be sure to contact her at the annual conference held in Toronto in March. The best time to see all of the leaders is at the Open Meeting.

Find ways to become more involved in the ESP-IS! For me, the ESP-IS has become a place to achieve visions in collaboration with others.

All the best,

About Kevin Knight

Kevin Knight
Kevin Knight (PhD in Linguistics, MBA, MPIA) is an associate professor in the Department of International Communication (International Business Career major) and has also been working in the Career Education Center of Kanda University of International Studies in Chiba, Japan. In the TESOL ESP Interest Section (ESPIS), he has served as chair and English in occupational settings (EOS) representative, and he is currently the ESPIS community manager. He was also a member of the Governance Review Task Force (GRTF) appointed by the board of directors. In addition, he has been a TESOL blogger in the area of English for Specific Purposes (ESP). He has more than 30 years of professional experience working for private, public, and academic sector institutions including Sony and the Japan Patent Office. His doctoral research on leadership communication (i.e., discourse) as a basis for leadership development was under the supervision of Emeritus Professor Christopher Candlin and Dr. Alan Jones.
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