ESP Program Development Resources

Program Development Resources From TESOL ESP-IS Chair-Elect, Kristin Ekkens

Hello ESPers, worldwide! (1)

I really enjoy finding and sharing great resources. In an article that I read in the most recent TESOL ESP-IS Newsletter, I found two more websites to share! In that article, the author, Kristin Ekkens, who is founder and CEO of C3 Consulting LLC and the current chair-elect of the ESP IS, wrote the following:

One project I just completed is helping a large (20,000 employees) healthcare organization develop a course map or a framework for developing essential skills (including language, culture, and workplace skills) for their employees. After researching and exploring various frameworks from across the globe, I decided on using the “Core Skills for Work Developmental Framework.”

Having done research and program development involving global competencies myself, I wanted to know more, so I contacted Kristin with three questions which she kindly answered:

1. What resources did you look at in trying to decide upon a framework? Would you be able to share specific links?

I began researching essential workplace skills frameworks back in January 2013 for a client. I realized the research and frameworks I once used for workplace language and literacy no longer addressed the needs our current workforce, needs that are quickly changing. Many of the changes are a result of increased globalization, workforce demographics, and innovation in technology.

The field of workplace learning and performance has also changed dramatically over the last few years. When we talk about developing workplace skills and enhancing employee engagement and performance, face-to-face instruction is not always the best solution. Other solutions include blended learning, job shadowing, job aids (infographics & checklists), communities of practice, and mentoring programs.

I found some incredible resources from around the world, and I keep discovering new ones.  You may note that I’m sharing suggestions from predominately English-speaking countries because the populations being served (employers and learners), needs, and challenges align most closely with the populations I’m working with in the US. I highly recommend the following resources:




New Zealand

2. Why did you choose the AU study as a framework? Was there a specific decision making process that you employed?

After much research and deliberation, I chose to recommend to my client the Australian Core Skills framework.  The following factors played a role in my decision:

    • Based on skill clusters and workplace performance
    • Up-to-date and most relevant
    • Tested over time and recently revised
    • Well-structured framework
    • Based on needs of employers (across industries)
    • Terminology – from the workplace not education; core vs. essential (possible negative connotation in US)
    • Used visuals to describe the framework
    • Inclusive of a variety of skills and attributes needed in the workplace (communication, culture, language, working with others, technology, etc.)
    • Involvement from multiple stakeholders (employers, service providers, learners, subject matter experts, government, etc)
    • A nationally/ internationally recognized framework

Canada’s Essential Skills framework was a close second for two reasons:

    • An emphasis on simplicity and visuals to convey a message (helps with getting employer and learner buy-in)
    • The availability of related tools including marketing documents, manuals, handbooks, assessments, profiles

3. What advice would you give to ESPers who are interested in locating and utilizing such resources in the future?

  1. Join global list serves to stay up to date on the latest research and resources.
  2. Connect with global communities of practice such as TESOL ESP IS.
  3. Test the resources you find and share your results with our TESOL ESP IS community! 

If you have additional questions, please feel free to contact Kristin directly at Her bio and company website are in the TESOL ESP-IS Newsletter article.

In the ESP-IS Library, there is a place to upload websites that would be of benefit to ESPers. I have already uploaded several links. I look forward to seeing the sites you share in the TESOL ESP-IS Newsletter, the online forums, and the library.

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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