English for Specific Purposes

The learner’s need is analysed to determine the target situation and the skills and strategies relevant to the need of the learner.

Best Practices February 6, 2020

English for specific purposes is an approach to English language learning that concerns itself with why a learner needs to learn a specific kind of English away from the general English. The learner does this with a particular motive which makes him/her the center of attention in terms of material design, content and methodology.

Tom Hutchinson and Alan Waters in English for Specific Purposes assert that, “ESP is an approach to language teaching in which all decisions as to content and method are based on the learner’s reason for learning.” They stressed further that ESP is about what the learner does with the language and the range of knowledge and abilities that enable them to do that which they need to do after learning.

The learner’s need is analysed to determine the target situation and the skills and strategies relevant to the need of the learner. According to Hutchinson and Waters, target situation analysis aims at taking into account the, “learner’s existing knowledge and setting it on a more scientific basis by establishing procedures for relating language analysis more closely to learners’ reasons for learning.”

In addition, skills and strategies focus not only on the thinking process that underlie language but also on the underlying interpretative strategies (i.e. the common reasoning and interpreting processes beyond the surface forms of every discourse) that can help the learner make significant contributions in the area of the use of the language.

Thus, English materials have been developed to serve different areas of life in the forms of English for Science and Technology (EST), English for Academic Purposes (EAP), and English for Occupational Purposes (EAP). EAP specifically covers various jobs and their unique communication needs, both professional and non-professional.

Adventist education, aimed at redeeming and restoring man to the image of his maker can draw from ESP quality physical, social, mental and spiritual principles. In this way, it becomes a system that is unique and distinct in material design, content and methodology from other systems of education. And just as in ESP, the needs of a learner for Adventist education will be the center of attention in terms of material design, content and methodology.

This will require a target situation analysis aimed at determining the learner’s existing knowledge about Adventist education and setting objectives for relating Adventist education more closely to the learner’s need. In addition, the skills and strategies to use in redeeming and restoring the learner to the image of the maker, should be drawn from the underlying interpretative strategies and principles that connect the courses the learner chooses to life experiences (i.e. the common reasoning and interpreting processes beyond the surface of the course), which can help the learner make significant contributions in the area of service to humanity.

This is possible when there is intentional effort towards developing authentic course materials with the aim of Adventist education underlying the course contents, thereby providing authentic texts for specific disciplines. The discipline at the core of these texts would then find its relevance in the author and creator of all things.

Author

Dr. Nwaugo is a lecturer at the Department of Languages and Literary Studies at Babcock University, Ogun State, Nigeria.

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