ESP Project Leader Profile: Charles Hall

Hello, ESPers worldwide!

In this second TESOL Blog post on the professional communication of ESP project leaders, you will read the profile of Charles Hall.

In my previous blog post, I shared the following:

It is my belief that we can and should leverage our ESP connections and knowledge for solving global problems. For example, how can we produce “a blog designed to consistently produce expert analysis of problems” related to ESP worldwide?  (Read more.)

 In his profile, Charles provides an outstanding example of how ESP practitioners and researchers can act to address global problems.


charles MP 

Charles Hall, Ph.D., dr.h.c.
Associate Professor, Al Faisal University
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia,

How would you define leadership?

A friend once mentioned to me that she was always amused that there are no “followership programs.” She made me think about the seemingly universal desire to promote leaders. Well, for me, being a good leader is knowing when not to lead but to follow, to step out of the way when necessary, to drag or push when necessary, and eventually in most ESP projects to “lead” oneself out of a job! Success is when a team no longer needs me because it works together in its own appropriate way.

Tell me an ESP project success story. Focus on your communication as a leader in the project. How did you communicate with stakeholders to make that project successful?

Choosing one success is very difficult because even failures (and I’ve had those for sure) become successes in that they help us understand, improve, and remain grounded.

That said, I am especially glad to have been part of a program funded by the U.S. Department of State through the RELO Office in Peru to help the poorest of the poor.

English for Social Progress

Helping artisans, guides, taxi drivers, home-stay hosts, and tourism police in Peru improve their lives with ESP for tourism


We are all aware that English as a Lingua Franca [ELF] has become the dominant language of international tourism. With ELF, all can share their culture with tourists and bring both financial and social benefits to their families and communities. Unfortunately, in many countries similar to Peru, the poorest of the poor are often illiterate or limited in their abilities even in the local language of power (such as Spanish or French), let alone English.

As a result, they are excluded from meaningful interactions in the tourist industry and are often exploited by both locals and internationals. The handmade souvenir you buy in the lobby of the 4-star hotel for US$30 was bought from its creator for pennies on the dollar.


  1. Conduct needs analysis to determine which aspects of the tourism industry involve the poorest of the poor and how they can be helped to gain “just enough” ELF to begin social progress.
  2. Involve local teachers at binational centers in creating and delivering curricula and materials to the participants.
  3. Repeat.


  • The teachers produced very beautiful and appropriate texts that they wrote, designed, and taught. More importantly, they learned that they were powerful, creative, innovative, and part of the solution. They became active stakeholders rather than passive employees.
  • The artisans learned just enough ELF to carry out simple interactions with tourists. They also experienced the joy of holding a conversation, not just reciting a memorized dialogue with the tourists who expressed awe at the beauty of the products that the “poor” had made.
  • The tourism police learned more appropriate forms to help distressed tourists with their problems. Crucially, they helped their teachers develop the very materials they were learning and realized they themselves were essential to their own education.
  • I learned more than I “taught.”

Key to Project Success

Observation, reflection, willingness to discard established beliefs and truths

Communication With Stakeholders

Ask more, tell less


Do you have questions or comments for Charles? Please post those in the Leave a Reply space below!

How do you think ESPers should act to help others and to do good in the world? What is our role? Let us all know your opinion!

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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3 Responses to ESP Project Leader Profile: Charles Hall

  1. Margaret van Naerssen says:

    Here is one of the links I mentioned in my earlier message.
    Guess it does not quite fit the ESP blog,. The video doesn’t
    show the communication skills training I heard about,
    but I’m submitting the link anyway–as a possible overall model
    of working with local young people, for improving
    their economic opportunities. It might trigger some
    ideas for some general goals–leaving specific
    pieces for more targeted program development.–Q5xinzvc

    The target group is young native Hawaiians who are
    dropping out, feeling they have no future.
    From Joan Rubin and P.J. Ryan (her husband, a retired
    park ranger)–Yes, the Joan Rubin of “the good language
    learner and learner strategies work).

  2. Margaret van Naerssen says:

    Charles, loved the description of your project in Peru, serving the poorest of the poor. And of your philosophy of leadership.
    –If Kay Westerfield is reading this blog, maybe she could contribute something about the work she did with women’s groups in, I think, in North Africa.
    –I’ve contacted a friend who has done something along these lines in Central America–and then in Hawai’i promoting local tour guides. Husband is a retired National Park Ranger. I’ve asked her to either post to the blog or send me a description I can post.
    These projects seem to involve, most appropriately, not only communication skills, but other practical knowledge/ skill sets, all of which also promote self-confidence in the community involved.
    Great work, Charles!

  3. Kim Hitchcock says:

    Thank you so much for posting this profile! I love the example of how Charles’ teaching impacts “the poorest of the poor”, and I would love to be more familiar with these types of opportunities.

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