TESOL-IATEFL Discussion: ESP Projects for Social Change‏

Hello ESPers, worldwide!

The TESOL-IATEFL online discussion about how ESP projects can create positive social change was recorded on 10 February 2016. Here is a description.

Title: TESOL-IATEFL Online Discussion About How ESP Projects Can Create Positive Social Change

Description: Experienced ESP practitioners from the English for specific purposes (ESP) groups of IATEFL and TESOL International Association discuss how to enhance ESP program development in English for occupational purposes (EOP) and English for academic purposes (EAP) contexts and settings. Organized by Kevin Knight and hosted by TESOL International Association.


Note: Margaret filled in for Aysen Guven (IATEFL) and Prithvi Shrestha (IATEFL), who were originally scheduled to speak. Charles Hall (TESOL) was another originally planned speaker who had an unexpected conflict at the last minute. Esther Perez Apple (TESOL) was on standby. Click on the names above to see their ESP project leader profiles. An ESP project leader profile for Prithvi is to be published in August or September this year.

The speakers discussed the following scenario and responded to specific questions in view of creating positive social change.

You are all members of a task-force team to provide language training for employees of a multinational corporation. The HR department of the company is interested in your ideas about providing not only in-house training but also involving local universities in the training of its employees. In addition, the HR department is wondering how such training could be connected to its annual report on Corporate Social Responsibility. Share your ideas in connection with the big picture: How ESP projects can create positive social change.

  • How would you determine the needs for training?
  • What questions would you want to ask the HR contact?
  • What would the options for EOP training be?
  • What would the options for EAP training be?
  • How would you want to assess training performance?
  • How would you price the training?
  • What obstacles would you expect, and how would you prepare to overcome those obstacles?
  • What would you tell the HR contact in connection with the question about the company’s CSR report?

Michelle Kim, TESOL Professional Learning Coordinator, recorded the session.  She writes:

Here is the link to the TESOL-IATEFL discussion in the TESOL Resource Center (TRC). Feel free to share it with whomever you like! Please note that the screen doesn’t show up for the first 20 seconds, but appears for the remaining hour.

The online discussion is one of several collaborative activities of the TESOL ESPIS and the IATEFL ESPSIG. These activities include:

  • A month-long threaded discussion in 2012 (which can be accessed in the TESOL Community Network)
  • Speaker exchange—Annual TESOL and IATEFL conferences for 3 years (sponsored by the British Council)

We look forward to continuing such positive collaboration!

Reflection: The more that I reflect on the TESOL-IATEFL discussion, the more I think that “leadership” is required. As I noted in the last ESP project leader profile, my personal conceptualization of leadership involves communicating to create a vision and to achieve a vision. The key words here are communicating to create!  Further, such creation can be done individually and in collaboration with others. As Andy noted in the discussion, Bourdieu’s research is relevant. Social, cultural, and linguistic capital are important as is habitus. From a leadership perspective, the “vision” is important, as are the “tools” to create the vision.  In connection with ESP programs, what are the “visions” and the “tools” that we are sharing with (and which shape) learners? Do the visions and tools maintain the status quo, or do they empower the learners to achieve the socially responsible changes that they desire?

If you are living in Southern California, you may be interested in attending an event at the University of California, San Diego that is titled Socially Speaking: Addressing Inequality. The event is described as follows:

The American dream is about upward mobility. The 2008-09 economic crisis and sluggish recovery put a dent in this dream for millions of Americans. But even before the crisis, incomes had been stagnating.

Join us for our spring “Socially Speaking” event, where a panel of faculty experts will discuss the real costs and benefits of the solutions many have offered, and provide insight on which Americans should prioritize as they work to keep the mobility dream alive.

How do you prepare your students for global success in your ESP programs? Let me know in the comments section below!

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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