ESP Giants at TESOL 2015 in Toronto!


TESOL 2015 Convention Blog Post

Hello, ESPers worldwide!

If you were able to attend the conference in Toronto, I would love to hear your voice in the comments to this TESOL Blog post below! Since I was unable to attend the conference this year, I did the next best thing. I stayed in contact with TESOL ESP IS leaders throughout the conference. In what follows in this blog post, I will share with you some of the comments that I received. Enjoy!

ESP Preconvention Institute

Based on feedback from participants, the all-day ESP PCI was a great success! Since it focused on ESP best practices in program design, development, implementation and evaluation, participants came with a focus on English for Academic Purposes (EAP) and/or English for Occupational Purposes (EOP). They ranged from newcomers to the field, looking for guidance in designing new classes/programs, to experienced ESP practitioners, appreciating the chance to reflect on their current program practices and expand their network of colleagues. They represented a range of industries and content disciplines: aviation, business, computer science, economics, engineering, food science/dietetics, health professions, tourism and hospitality, and customized programs in a wide variety of domains. Participants were from Africa, Asia, Latin America, Canada, and the United States.

Kay Westerfield, Cofounder of the ESP IS

ESP Interest Section Open Meeting

ESP IS members were pleased to welcome John Swales and Ann Johns, pioneers in the field of ESP and early strong supporters in the establishment of the ESP Interest Section, to the ESP IS Open Meeting on Wednesday night.

Kay Westerfield, Cofounder of the ESP IS

When Kay brought John Swales, Ann Johns, and Christine Feak to our open meeting, John reflected on when he had been invited years ago, maybe in our 3rd/4th year of the IS and was given Honorary membership in the IS. Ann and John were honored then so those in the ESP IS (young organizationally) realized that in fact ESP already had a history and a solid one.

At that time, Monique Memet, ESPer from France brought a bottle of French wine for John and Ann, and they were given a reproduction of an ancient hieroglyphics of presumably the oldest “language for specific purposes” artifact, an ancient Egyptian medical prescription from the University of Pennsylvania Museum shop!

Margaret van Naerssen, Two-Time Past Chair of the ESP IS

This was my third open meeting. As in the previous two years, I felt the sensation of being in the presence of ESP giants. That feeling was particularly keen this year because John Swales and Ann Johns were with us. It was a very humbling experience, indeed!

It seems many of the practitioners in the room somehow found themselves in the realm of ESP without the firm foundations that these leaders have laid before us. One of our points of discussion was this lack of formal ESP training, and how that leaves many of us feeling overwhelmed. We broke up into smaller groups and discussed ways that our IS can help address this issue both by tying those new to ESP with foundational ESP principles and practices, but also how to continue discussions throughout the year that will build on those skills and help us sharpen one another. These discussions were facilitated greatly by having some of our revered veterans in the room. The group I was in came up with two concrete ideas: 1). Dig out those foundational materials that already exist to make them more accessible to new members. 2). Do regular profiles of ESP practitioners to share what people are up to and compare projects.

I look forward to working with the steering board and TESOL to see these ideas become a reality.

Jackie Gishbaugher, Chair of the ESP IS

Organizational Needs Assessment

Anne Lomperis and John Butcher gave a fascinating presentation Thursday morning, reminding us of the importance of doing an Organizational Needs Assessment before beginning a project–and looking at the importance of starting at the top down, before even beginning to deliver training.

This was done in the context of a project in Saudi Arabia involving a joint project through the University of Akron and center in Saudi for training young men to learn the chemistry and whole process of making rubber tires. Anne, John Butcher, and Rashid (sp.? )–via Skype–were the presenters. John has been doing much of the work on the ground in Saudi Arabia.

John is now also on the ESP IS Steering Board as English for Occupational Purposes Rep.

Margaret van Naerssen, Two-Time Past Chair of the ESPIS

Multilingual Scholars’ Scientific Writing for Publication

Today I attended a very good presentation by James Cororan, OISE/University of Toronto, reporting on his program on supporting multilingual scholars’ scientific writing for publication at Mexico University (UNAM). He refers to the scholars as emerging multilingual scholars and not as nonnative English speakers. He reported on THEIR perspectives as well as that of their established scientist faculty members. A very interesting idea he had was to bring in editors of various professional journals to speak with his students. A description of his presentation is in the program book.

Margaret van Naerssen, Two-Time Past Chair of the ESPIS

Coffee Shop at the Convention Center

The coffee shop in the convention center, The Second Cup, serves a maple sugar infused latte–with maple sugar also sprinkled on top. Ahhh.

Margaret van Naerssen, Two-time past Chair of the ESPIS

Don’t you wish that you had been able to attend? I do! If you were able to attend, please share your comments below for the benefit of all of us!

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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One Response to ESP Giants at TESOL 2015 in Toronto!

  1. Dear Kevin and Fellow ESPers,

    First and foremost, I feel honored to be serving on the ESP Steering Committee as EOP representative under the outstanding leadership of Kristin Ekkens and now Jaclyn Gishbaugher as well as being part of this dynamic group of ESP professionals.

    Among the many offerings featured at TESOL Toronto, here is a brief note about three sessions I attended:

    I Pronounce: English Pronunciation in the App Store. DJ Kaiser, PhD resented a review of over 100 apps in the iOS App Store for English Pronunciation with a closer focus on 20 apps. These 20 apps were described as Listen and Repeat with no feedback for the user.

    Major issues with the apps:
    Many apps have bugs (crashing, menu items not functioning, etc)
    Computerized voice or “clipped” audio
    Focus on simple ALM-style drills

    Current offerings of apps were deemed poor or fair by this presenter. Key terms discussed were MALL (Mobile Assisted Language Learning) and MAPT (Mobile Assisted Pronunciation Training). For more information, check out Kaiser’s Blog:

    Hospital Employees: Designing and Teaching a Speaking and Pronunciation Course. James Mitchell, Julie Nelson, Joshua Reed, presenters from Portland State created a pilot 8-week, 10 hour curriculum for a class of 15 at a nursing and medical center representing all departments. The curriculum was based on the work of Celce-Murcia, Gilbert and a medical terminology book:

    Week 1: Speech production for consonants
    Week 2: Speech production for vowels
    Week 3: Stressed syllables
    Week 4: Sentence level stress
    Week 5: Contrastive stress
    Week 6: Thought groups and natural pauses
    Week 7: Expressing emotion through intonation
    Week 8. Applying skills learned

    Presenters described the challenges of working on this ambitious program and ideas to explore for future pilot programs.

    Skills for Effective Business Communication: Efficiency, Communication and Success. Michael Murphy from Cambridge College presented this fast-paced and detailed workshop underscoring the importance of effective communication skills in professional settings. Reading, writing, listening, speaking, time management, collaborative communication, and non-verbal communication were self-assessed.

    His take-away message from the workshop is that effective business communication is understanding the relationships between competence in content knowledge, linguistic knowledge, cultural knowledge, organizational knowledge as it relates to performance and the ability to synthesize content, linguistic, cultural and organizational knowledge into power.

    An extensive reference list accompanied the workshop and this summary:
    Get feedback from your colleagues and clients about your communication skills
    Give feedback to your colleagues and clients
    Recognize the limits of technology
    Be positive
    Remember that efficiency is a skill to be mastered
    Remember that collaboration is key to building strong relationships
    Remember that the success of the individual and the organization depends on effective communication.

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