Challenges Faced When Teaching English For Specific Purposes

  • Sorana Lucia Adam Universitatea de Stiinte Agricole si Medicina Veterinara Cluj-Napoca
  • Rodica Silvia Stan
  • Anca Simona Moangă
  • Ancuța Oroian
Keywords: specific purposes, specific needs, professional activity, study discipline, educational situation


Introduction: English for Specific Purposes - generally shortened to ESP - is a part of teaching the English language that includes Business English, Technical English, Scientific English, English for medical professionals, English for waiters, etc. In other words, teaching / learning ESP actually means focusing on meeting the specific needs of learners in terms of their professional activity or study discipline. As such and given the specificity of the teaching / learning situation, it may use a methodology that differs entirely or partially from that used when teaching General English.

Aims: The purpose of this article is to highlight and present not only the challenges faced when teaching such courses, but also the strategies and means of making the most of this learning situation..

Materials and methods: The teacher must at all times bear in mind the particularities of the educational situation, which, on the one hand, translate into a need for teaching language appropriate to specific activities in terms of grammar, vocabulary, register, skills, discourse and genre, and on the other hand into the need to adapt to a certain age-group (as learners are most likely to be adults) and a certain language level (most likely intermediate or advanced). Moreover, there is another significant additional challenge teachers of ESP face: knowledge of the specific language structures and technical vocabulary of the domain / discipline in question, as well as a certain amount of field-specific knowledge (of medical/legal procedures, of engineering methods, etc). What is worse, generally speaking, on this kind of courses learners know more about the subject / domain/ field than the teacher.

Results: Teachers must be aware that there are certain strategies and methods that can and should be used in these circumstances.

Conclusion: The criteria for teaching/learning specific purpose language should be derived from the specific purpose context. ESP should be focused on the ability to use language precisely in order to perform relevant tasks in various specific contexts integrating field-specific knowledge.