English for Specific Purposes (ESP) is an approach to English language learning that concerns itself with why a learner needs to learn a specific kind of English, different from general English. The learner does this with a particular motive, and this motive makes him/her the center of attention in terms of material design, content and methodology. For example, 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). The Egnlish which the learner is taught is centered around the specific area of expertise the learner plans to enter.
The learner’s need is analysed to determine the target situation, skills, and strategies that are relevant to the need of the learner. According to Hutchinson and Waters (1987), target situation analysis aims to take 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 learner’s reason for learning.” In addition, skills and strategies focus not only on the thinking process that underlies 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, ESP takes into consideration the reasons for learning and the needs of the learner, taking into account to what he or she may already know as well as areas for growth.
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 every other system of education. And just as in ESP, the need 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. In other words, Adventist course curriculum should take into account the needs of the learner and the specific situations in which the learner will find him or herself in order to better prepare the learner for fitness in God’s service.
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, so that every discipline finds its relevance in the author and creator of all things.