Global Resources in ESP: Current Developments in English for Academic, Specific, and Occupational Purposes

At the TESOL convention in Dallas in March 2013, the academic session of the ESP IS created by the current chair, Yinghuei Chen, was titled “Developments in ESP Pedagogy Around the Globe.” As a member of the audience and a last minute speaker in that session, I had the pleasure of learning about how ESP is seen and taught in various EFL contexts. Moreover, in the IATEFL-TESOL intersection on ESP orchestrated by the immediate past chair of the ESP IS, Najma Janjua, where I was also able to participate as a speaker, I learned more about how ESPers around the world were doing ESP.

I had a similar adventure reading the following publication featuring the articles of IATEFL ESP SIG members: Krzanowski, M. (Ed.) (2008). Current developments in English for academic, specific, and occupational purposes. Reading, UK: Garnett.

As a bit of background, when I was chair of the ESP IS, I was able to work with Mark Krzanowski, who was Coordinator of the ESP SIG at the time, to launch a speaker exchange between the two ESP groups that was sponsored by the British Council. The speaker exchange has continued, thanks to the ongoing financial support of the British Council, and in 2013, Prithvi Shrestha, who is co-coordinator of the ESP SIG, came to Dallas, and Kristin Ekkens, who is chair-elect of the ESP IS, went to Liverpool.

Among the locations of the authors of the articles are Austria, Bangladesh, Cuba, Croatia, Italy, Kenya, Malaysia, Montenegro, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russia, Taiwan, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States. As Mark writes, the publication “is a collection of papers which reflect the diversity and multiplicity of strands that international EAP and ESP practitioners of the 21st century are engaged in across all continents” (p. 2).

In the publication, EAP (English for academic purposes) refers to university settings but not academic subdisciplines. ESP (English for specific purposes) includes training in the academic subdisciplines, such as medicine, and in business contexts, such as English for aviation. EOP (English for occupational purposes) falls under ESP or stands alone.

The articles consist of academic research followed by an activity that is relevant to the context of the author. The book does not follow the format of TESOL’s English for specific purposes (2002) edited by Thomas Orr, which looks at programs in educational and workplace contexts. Therefore, one has the sense that the authors of the articles are not only teachers/trainers but also researchers and that the activities presented are grounded in research.

From a principled ESP perspective, which holds that ESP programs should be designed to meet the immediate needs of adult learners for English as a communication tool in academic or occupational settings, the book does not provide sufficient guidance in acquiring stakeholder agreement in creating and implementing programs. However, for ESPers who are interested in how ESP is perceived and taught around the world, this is an important text because it is provides authentic activities supported by research.

If you want to get a sense of how ESP is conceptualized around the world, check out the book! It could also help you better understand the contexts and academic professionalism of IATEFLers and to brainstorm activities for your own students.

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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