Identifying Opportunities for ESP Training

Hello, ESPers worldwide!

My own professional background includes experience developing and implementing corporate training programs. For this reason, I often view ESP from a business perspective where client satisfaction is a top priority. In this regard, the challenge is to provide the client with programs that satisfy the HR gatekeepers as well as the students. In my experience, achieving a high level of satisfaction often depends upon securing a trainer who can meet the needs, goals, and expectations of all stakeholders.

Recently, one of my students told me that he had signed up for a course in astronomy with Coursera. I was pleased to hear this for two reasons:

  1. The student was reaching out on his own to learn something of interest to him in English.
  2. The student was challenging himself to improve his English language ability by taking this course.

My student is a judge in Japan, so his interest in astronomy is not related to his career. As we talked more about the course, I learned that he would not have the opportunity to discuss the contents of the course with others in English. I had been thinking that providing discussion sessions in English for participants in such courses could be of value to the participants, and my student agreed.

Our conversation caused me to think about teachers. The teacher of a Coursera course is one of the best in the world. Who are the best teachers to lead discussions in the English language related to such courses? In an article published in 2011, I wrote about content-driven and language-driven instruction. The following quote is concerned with teachers:

Content and language specialist
In regard to the types of teachers most qualified to teach CBI courses, Met (1999) writes that the areas in which teachers should be “well prepared” in order to be successful are content knowledge, content pedagogy, understanding of language acquisition, language pedagogy, knowledge of materials development and selection, and understanding of student assessment. (p. 621)

I would add that the best teachers are those individuals who are able to meet the needs, goals, and expectations of all stakeholders.

In my office, there is a copy of Strategic Management: Concepts and Cases (Thompson & Strickland, 2003). In describing a SWOT analysis, they write the following:

Simply listing a company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats is not enough; the payoff of SWOT analysis comes from the evaluations and conclusions… (p. 127)

As ESPers, I think that we should always be on the lookout for opportunities such as the one described above. We also need to evaluate carefully such opportunities.

When I was working for Sony, I used to say to my students that their ability to learn was the most important thing for achieving future success. As ESPers, we will also need to learn more in order to continue to meet the changing needs, goals, and expectations of stakeholders.

Lifelong learning, professional communication research, and teaching ESP!  Sounds great to me!

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 Identifying Opportunities for ESP Training

  1. Ascentaz says:

    Hi kevin,
    Great pointers on ESP Training. Great content looking forward for more from your end.

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