Global Resources in ESP: A Virtual Seminar on Principled ESP

Hello, ESPers worldwide!

On 3 October, three past chairs (including me) of the TESOL ESP Interest Section, together with participants from around the world, co-constructed a unique virtual seminar experience. The title of the virtual seminar was “Principled ESP—Best Practices and Case Studies,” and it was the first time that TESOL had ever had a virtual seminar with three speakers in different locations. David Kertzner was in Oregon, USA, Ethel Swartley was in Colorado, USA, and I was in Kanagawa, Japan. The seminar started at 7:00 am for David, 9:00 am for Ethel, and 11:00 pm for me.

The virtual seminar was a lot of fun!  As presenters, we wanted the presentation to feel like a radio talk show.  During the 90-minute virtual seminar, we were on the telephone and controlling the presentation slides with our computers.  As the participants heard us speaking and watched the slides on their computers, they participated in a live chat session that appeared next to the slides on the screen. We all tried to respond to comments and questions, but David was especially active in contributing to the chat, even though he was also a presenter.

The virtual seminar can be accessed online. It’s free for TESOL members and those who have already registered for the virtual seminar. It will also be available sometime soon in the TESOL Resource Center.

The feedback was highly favorable!  Thank you!

In a promotional e-mail from John Donaldson, Director of Education Programs at TESOL, the event was described as follows:

The term ESP—English for specific purposes—is used with increasing frequency to characterize classes that are not general English. These might include workplace ESL classes, college-level ESL classes for jobs training, and classes addressing language for specific industries or professions in academic settings for ESL and EFL. Some ESL practitioners use ESP to describe subject-matter experts providing content-based instruction in university-level courses, taught in English for nonnative speakers. This latter characterization, however, is not widely accepted as “principled” ESP.

At its core, ESP is grounded in well-developed principles for adult learners of a second or foreign language. In this virtual seminar, three veteran ESP teachers identify what principled ESP means, address ESP best practices, and draw on case studies to stimulate a discussion on ESP program development, curriculum, materials design, and delivery. Topics also include needs assessment, identifying performance goals, and measuring outcomes.

What Will I Learn?

Participants will be able to

  • understand a definition of principled ESP
  • differentiate between principled ESP and content-based instruction
  • determine whether the principles of ESP apply to contexts they are working in
  • articulate parameters for evaluating the set up and delivery of ESP training and classes

About the Presenters

David Kertzner is immediate past chair of TESOL’s ESP Interest Section and founder of ProActive English, delivering on-site training in corporate and vocational settings featuring an e-learning tool he developed. Mr. Kertzner holds a master’s degree in education and has overseen training in Asia, Europe, and the United States.

Ethel C. Swartley is a past chair of TESOL’s ESP Interest Section, and her 20 years of ESP experience includes international teacher training and program development in academic and workplace settings. She currently coordinates EAP programs for business, information technology, and other disciplines at the University of Denver English Language Center.

Kevin Knight (doctoral candidate, MBA, MPIA) develops curriculum and teaches ESP in the Department of International Communication and the Career Education Center of Kanda University of International Studies. He started his career in ESP with Sony in Japan and has been the program director of the corporate service division of a career college in Tokyo.


I hope that you have the chance to check it out, and I’ll see you soon!


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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