ESP Project Leaders: Profiles & Professional Communication

Hello, ESPers worldwide!

In this TESOL Blog post, it is my pleasure to announce a TESOL ESP Interest Section project on the professional communication of ESP project leaders. Please continue to read this post in order to find out how you can participate!

Project Background

The idea for this project came from the comments below of the current TESOL ESPIS Chair, Jackie Gishbaugher, about the ESPIS Open Meeting at the 2015 TESOL convention in Toronto.

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 ESPIS

– See more at:

I was inspired by the second point above about doing profiles of ESP practitioners!  My excitement was based on two of my past experiences:

  • TESOL ESPIS community discussions (2011–2012)
    When I was the TESOL ESPIS chair, I conceived and launched the TESOL ESPIS Community Discussions (2011–2012). In the five threaded discussions (that were each 1-month long) led by ESP (and also Intercultural Communication IS) leaders of TESOL and IATEFL, we discussed issues that were important to ESP practitioners at the time. These five discussions can still be accessed in the TESOL Community.
  • Research on leadership conceptualization and leadership communication
    My doctoral research in linguistics (under the supervision of Professor Christopher Candlin and also Dr. Alan Jones) was on leadership conceptualization and leadership communication for the purposes of the leadership development of L2 learners in Japan. (I am pleased to announce that my PhD thesis has been approved. Although my degree has been awarded, my graduation date is TBA!)

In view of my two experiences above, I can see the value of exploring the professional communication of ESP project leaders for the professional development of ESP practitioners worldwide! Accordingly, as a member of the current ESPIS steering board in my position of community manager, I proposed the following project to members of the steering board and received their approval and support. (I have also shared information about this project with the TESOL Board of Directors.)

Project Overview

There will be two components to this project:

  • Profiles of ESP project leaders in TESOL Blog posts
  • Community discussions with the ESP project leaders

First, the ESP project leaders will be asked to answer the following two questions for a TESOL Blog post.

  1. Define leadership in your own words.
  2. 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?

The ESP project leaders would then participate in a (possibly 2-week) threaded discussion online in the TESOL Community.

Your Participation

How can you participate?

  1. Read the TESOL Blog posts.
  2. Go to the threaded discussion and ask questions.
  3. Tell me about (or volunteer to be) an ESP project leader yourself!

Thank you for your participation in this historic professional development project! I look forward to seeing you online!

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 Project Leaders: Profiles & Professional Communication

  1. As I mentioned to the outgoing chair while manning the ESP table in Toronto, I would like to see a data base, list or similar of the expertise of ESP members. With such a list, ESPers would have a connection resource. For example, if someone received an assignment to teach folks within a discipline that the ESP teacher is unfamiliar with, say medicine, such a list could provide contacts with other ESP members who do have an expertise within such discipline(s).

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