English for Specific Purposes | The Difference between ESP and EGP

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English for Specific Purposes: Review of Literature - English for Specific Purposes (ESP) is often underestimated because of teachers' attitudes which are often characterized either by condescension or reluctance. This is manifested in the belief that often prevails among teachers that ESP is for those who cannot teach the "real" language. A good example of this situation is "English in other departments" or "The Language Unit" at university where teaching this component of the students' program of studies is generally the responsibility of junior members of staff and where it is a "slot-filling" subject in the teachers' time-tables. This underestimation may be due to the fact many language teachers are not aware of what it means to be an ESP teacher, and what it takes to be successful in this practice.

The situation in the Saudi context is even more complicated as there is not even a separation between ESP and English for General Purposes (EGP) when it comes to syllabuses and methodology, and who is better trained to teach what. Needs assessment, which is a major component of ESP, never exists, and, if does, it is never systematic, but rather based on teachers' intuitions. Moreover, the methodology adopted in teaching never differs. That is, a teacher would enter a class with the same kind of methodology in mind regardless of the aims of each program. Unfortunately, programs are always put "in the same basket" and are always simply labeled as programs for "Teaching English". As a matter of fact, English is not always just English for there are particularities that ought to be taken into consideration when designing syllabuses and practicing teaching depending on the objectives set for each situation.

The aim of this paper is to shed light on some of the major aspects of ESP discussed in the literature to reach a better understanding of this kind of English teaching. The first section draws a distinction between ESP and EGP in terms of theory and practice. The second section discusses in detail what is meant by ESP and

presents researchers' views of ESP regarding its absolute and variable characteristics. Then, the paper explains the reasons that led to the emergence of ESP highlighting the historical points that gave rise to this kind of English teaching. This is followed by a discussion of the three different types of ESP; namely, English as a Restricted Language, English for Academic and Occupational Purposes (EAOP), and English with Specific Topics. In the fifth and last section, the paper focuses on the applied aspects of ESP through explaining the five principles of ESP that have been frequently addressed in the literature. These five principles or conceptions are: authenticity, research-base, language/text, need and learning/methodology.

The Difference between ESP and EGP

The question of the difference between ESP and EGP has been addressed in the literature in terms of theory and practice. Hutchinson and Waters (1987) state that there is no difference between the two in theory; however, there is a great deal of difference in practice. ESP differs from EGP in the sense that the words and sentences learned and the subject matter discussed are all relevant to a particular field or discipline. The design of syllabuses for ESP is directed towards serving the needs of learners seeking for or developing themselves in a particular occupation or specializing in a specific academic field. ESP courses make use of vocabulary tasks related to the field such as negotiation skills and effective techniques for oral presentations. A balance is created between educational theory and practical considerations. ESP also increases learners' skills in using English.

A deeper investigation, however, of the difference between the two is required. English for General Purposes (EGP) is essentially the English language education in junior and senior high schools. Learners are introduced to the sounds and symbols of English, as well as to the lexical/grammatical/rhetorical elements that compose spoken and written discourse. There is no particular situation targeted in this kind of language learning. Rather, it focuses on applications in general situations: appropriate dialogue with restaurant staff, bank tellers, postal clerks, telephone operators, English teachers, and party guests as well as lessons on how to read and write the English typically found in textbooks, newspapers, magazines, etc. EGP curriculums also include cultural aspects of the second language. EGP conducted in English-speaking

countries is typically called ESL, and EGP conducted in non-English-speaking countries is normally called EFL. EGP is typically viewed as a level that precedes higher-level instruction in ESP if ESP programs are to yield satisfactory results.

English for Specific Purposes, however, is that kind of English teaching that builds upon what has been acquired earlier in EGP with a more restricted focus. It aims at acquainting learners with the kind of language needed in a particular domain, vocation, or occupation. In other words, its main objective is to meet specific needs of the learners. Of course, this indicates that there is no fixed methodology of ESP that can be applicable in all situations, but rather each situation and particular needs of learners belonging to a particular domain impose a certain methodology of teaching.

Thus, ESP is centered on the language appropriate to the activities of a given discipline. According to Hutchinson and Waters (1987:19), "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." In this connection, Dudley-Evans (1998) explains that ESP may not always focus on the language for one specific discipline or occupation, such as English for Law or English for Engineering. University instruction that introduces students to common features of academic discourse in the sciences or humanities, frequently called English for Academic Purposes (EAP), is equally ESP.

Preferences By Majid M. Al-Humaidi