Global Connections With e-Portfolios: Web-Based Dossiers

Hello, ESPers worldwide!

I was reading a TESOL Blog post by TESOL President Deena Boraie, who asks two key questions:

  1. What is the future of English language teaching and learning in specific contexts?
  2. What kind of English is needed in each of your contexts?

I am glad that she asked these questions because it gives me the opportunity to share another ESP story.

Today, there was an event at my university in Japan hosted by the Career Education Center. A number of companies visited the campus and made presentations to students. In the morning, I taught Business English to a group of adult learners who were currently unemployed and participating in a Hello Work training program.

One day before, I had received an e-mail telling me about an article in The Wall Street Journal that focused on e-portfolios—Web-based dossiers.  Here are a couple of quotes, and links to useful websites, from that article:

In an effort to give students a leg up in the job market, more universities are pushing their graduates to complete e-portfolios—Web-based dossiers that showcase writing samples, class presentations and other evidence of skills that might be attractive to potential employers, like critical thinking.

Some schools use their own technology, but about 500, including Stanford University and Marquette University, have teamed up with Pathbrite Inc., a portfolio hub that also enables students to upload verified transcripts and test scores. A similar company, the Portfolium LLC, has signed up more than 25,000 users from partner schools, including University of California’s San Diego and Santa Barbara campuses, since launching last February.

I shared the websites (for Pathbrite and Portfolium) with the adult learners in my Hello Work class. In addition, when classes begin again in April, I will be helping undergraduates to produce e-portfolios, and I plan to use these websites.

During a 10-minute break in the Hello Work class today, one of the students told me that she wanted to make friends with English speakers and asked if I had any suggestions about how to do so. I had to think about that for a while. In ESP, we focus on meeting the immediate needs of our learners for English language communication skills in their work or training. My student’s question made me think about how my learners want to use English language communication skills to “connect” with other English speakers in the world.

Deena’s questions are great ones for ESPers to consider. In regard to the future of ELT, it seems to me that we need to focus on when and where it will be necessary or desirable to use English in view of changes in technology, etc.

As ESPers, we always need to find ways to help learners to meet their English language communication needs for specific purposes in specific contexts worldwide!

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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