ESP Project Leader Profile: Jaclyn Gishbaugher

Hello, ESPers worldwide!

In this TESOL Blog post, you will read the ESP project leader profile of Jaclyn Gishbaugher, who is the current chair of the English for Specific Purposes Interest Section (ESPIS). In Jackie’s profile, her role as an ESP project leader in the automotive industry is described.

Jackie’s bio in the February 2015 edition of  ESP News notes some of her professional experiences in the USA and internationally:

Jaclyn Gishbaugher has worked in the field of English for specific purposes for 7 years. She is honored to stretch her boundaries further as the chair-elect for TESOL International’s ESPIS and as the director of an online English for occupational purposes language training program at The Ohio State University. Previously, Jaclyn was a U.S. DoS English Language Fellow in Jakarta, Indonesia. There she developed an English curriculum for the National Police that is now being adapted for several other countries in Southeast Asia. She also taught English in refugee resettlement and intensive English programs at OSU and Akron University, her alma mater.

Jackie became the ESPIS chair in March 2015. To read about her work in Indonesia (and on a more personal side, her success as a triathlete), check out her blog!



Jaclyn Gishbaugher  (
Chair, TESOL ESP Interest Section
Program Director, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA

How would you define leadership?

Leaders are those people who draw in people to their cause/belief/field through their sincerity, passion, and grit. Then they give those individuals just the right mix of confidence and opportunity to push the boundaries that much further.

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?

Project: English for Automotive Purposes

Project Description: Design an online, self-paced language program for Japanese transfer employees working in a variety of positions and departments at a large auto manufacturer in North America. Project success is defined by increased TOEIC scores, effective workplace communication, and better quality of life.

Outcome: Because this project is still underway, it’s premature to label it an “ESP Project Success Story” just yet. However, we’ve had lots of small successes along the way. Just this week, I was dancing around the office because our learners are starting to engage a new speaking tool we incorporated into the program. These continuous, small victories fuel our determination to meet large project goals.

English for Stakeholder Communication: Just as important as engaging our learners has been engaging client management who oversee our program.  Over the past 2 years, I feel like I’ve gone through my own “English for Stakeholder Communication” course…or trial by fire, rather. My effectiveness in communicating project design, benchmarks, and success, I found, was determined by my ability to:

  1. anticipate client questions;
  2. use corporate/business English;
  3. understand and incorporate client philosophies;
  4. understand and incorporate Japanese high-context style of communication; and
  5. find a way, while accomplishing 1-4, to assert the professional knowledge my team and I bring to the table.

We’ve heard again and again that ESP practitioners wear many hats. Selling our program to stakeholders is one of those hats that we may not be prepared for if we come from a non-Business English background. It involves a complex, multidimensional style of communication that often is unique to each project and client. That’s why I’m so grateful for a space here in this blog and with our ESP IS community listserv to discuss these topics and learn from everyone!


When I read Jackie’s reference to TOEIC scores as defining project success, I was reminded of my own experience working with a construction company in Tokyo many years ago. In the first month-long intensive program (of many to follow), the students showed me a very effective approach to increasing their TOEIC scores. I came to class one day and noticed that the students had several TOEIC books on their desks. There were different books for each student. The students explained to me that their company was evaluating their progress in the program based on their TOEIC scores.  (The ESP program was not a TOEIC preparation course.) If they did well on the test, they could be given an overseas (e.g., management) position. Accordingly, the students had bought TOEIC books at a local bookstore. They then studied for the TOEIC on their own outside of class and scored twice as high as expected. The students’ company was pleased with the high test scores. I made sure to tell each new group of students the reason for their colleagues’ TOEIC success, which led to the replication of that success.

Such motivation is described in a TED Talk by Dan Pink in 2009 titled “The Puzzle of Motivation”:

The good news is that the scientists who’ve been studying motivation have given us this new approach. It’s built much more around intrinsic motivation. Around the desire to do things because they matter, because we like it, they’re interesting, or part of something important. And to my mind, that new operating system for our businesses revolves around three elements: autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Autonomy: the urge to direct our own lives. Mastery: the desire to get better and better at something that matters. Purpose: the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves. These are the building blocks of an entirely new operating system for our businesses.

Check out the TED Talk! Do you have comments or questions for Jackie? Post those below!

All the best,



Gishbaugher, J. (2015). Letter from the chair-elect. ESP News. Alexandria, VA: TESOL International Association.

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.
This entry was posted in TESOL Blog and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.