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English for Specific Purposes

English for Specific Purposes (ESP) is a segment of TESOL that focuses on the teaching of academic, technical, scientific, medical, aviation, hospitality and business English. In other words, ESP is an English course targeted to meet the very particular needs of the learner, usually in a professional capacity.

The methodology of ESP utilizes activities from its targeted discipline to better correlate material to the learner while offering him or her more practical exercise. Rather than exposing learners to the broad terms of the English language, the curriculum focuses on grammar, vocabulary and discourse relevant to the specialized field. Lessons eschew complex rules of language and theory for more practical and functional material. Depending on the specialization, there may be an emphasis on letter writing, report writing and telephone conversation. Students are sometimes expected to have rudimentary knowledge of English. The course is usually designed for adult learners, though it may be taught at secondary school as well.

ESP teachers usually have a strong TESOL background and apply their previous experience to anticipate and meet ESP learners’ needs. An ESP teacher’s main goal is to organize courses, set learning objectives, foster a learning environment and evaluate students. ESP teachers also sometimes have experience in the specialized field on which their course focuses, whether that be academic or professional. For example, an Information Technologies English teacher may have perviously worked in that field.

TESOL instructors sometimes choose to pursue teaching ESP programs rather than general English for mainly two reasons: Usually, ESP classes will be smaller, with older, more mature students, and the salary is sometimes greater than that of regular TESOL positions.

ESP teachers will usually work under contract to a company, organization or university. For postings abroad, employer may assist with obtaining a visa, travel to host country, domestic travel and housing.