Hello, ESPers worldwide!
When I first came to Japan in the mid 80s, I was a relatively young teacher. I recall working with mid-level managers in the training center of a large Sony factory. Sometimes the managers would disagree with the answers I gave to the activities in a textbook. However, they stopped challenging me when I did one simple thing—I explained that my answers were from the teacher’s manual. (I would also open the teacher’s manual and point to the answer in the text.) I was amazed at how quickly the students accepted the authority of the teacher’s manual. To this day, I will tell students the correct answer to a problem and ask the class, “How did I know the correct answer?” My standard response is, “The teacher’s manual.” I always give them a big smile as I hold up the teacher’s manual. I also like to add, “If you want to be a teacher, get a teacher’s manual!”
While I was editing documents in a government office in Japan, sometimes an official would challenge my word choice. Unfortunately, I did not have a teacher’s manual, so I referred to the next best authority—Google. You can use Google to show someone how many times an expression is used. (Place the expression in quotation marks, and conduct a Google search. The number of “results” will appear.) Based on Google search results, I would show the official that no one in the world used the expression that he was suggesting. However, millions of people were using the expression that I was recommending. After a short period of time, officials would only ask for my advice after they had first conducted a Google search for an expression. (They were very fast learners!) This experience brings to mind the saying “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” I wanted to teach people to fish! I did not want to do all of the fishing for them.
It seems to me that ESP is all about empowering our learners to use English language skills as communication tools in their work or training. (See slides 7 and 8, adapted from Lomperis & van Naerssen, 1992, in our ESP PowerPoint.) For this reason, we need to continue to study professional communication and become more proficient researchers and trainers. We also need to learn to empower our learners with not only books (such as a teacher’s manual) but also with technology (such as Google). In this vein, check out the posts of some of the other TESOL bloggers for great ideas! At Kanda University of International Studies (KUIS) in Japan, there is the Self-Access Learning Center (SALC). You might also find the SiSAL Journal to be of interest.
Finally, if you are interested in knowing more about how “trust” is discursively constructed, you should take a look at:
Candlin, C. N. & Crichton, J. (Eds.) (2013). Discourses of trust. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
All the best,