Mastery of Speech (1919)

My daughter was recently given a series of 8 books with the title Mastery of Speech, written by Frederick Law and published in New York in 1919.
It is described as: A course in Eight Parts on General Speech, Business Talking and Public Speaking, What to Say and How to Say It under All Conditions.
The titles of the eight books are:

  • Book One: How to Speak Correctly and Pleasingly
  • Book Two: How to Use Words Correctly
  • Book Three: How to Speak Well Under All Ordinary Conditions
  • Book Four: How to Speak in Daily Business Life
  • Book Five: How to Speak under Trying Conditions
  • Book Six: How to Speak In Private Life and in Public Places
  • Book Seven: How to Speak on Public Occasions
  • Book Eight: How to Find Material for Talking and Speaking

Book 8 might be useful in ESP contexts! Continue reading

Failure to write

A group of students wrote something for me at the beginning of the semester. They were scientists and their lecturer wanted to see how well they could write so if they needed to develop their writing, we could start early in the year and not wait until they had submitted their first assessed assignments. Much of the writing was not very good and the lecturer was determined to arrange writing classes as soon as possible. I decided I’d try to talk to the students before we made decisions to see what I could find out about their experiences of writing. Continue reading

What is a blog?

I was recently asked to work with a group of students on blogging. The students had been asked to write a weekly assessed blog of between 500 and 700 words and were having difficulty.

As I thought about it, I realised that I did not have enough information about what the students were expected to do, and neither – I think – did the students. Continue reading


After 10 years of support, Garnet Education are no longer be in a position to sponsor the IATEFL SIG Journal after issue 47. Garnet Education has provided unmatched professional support of the highest quality which stretches from issue 30 (Summer-Autumn 2007) until now (issue 47). They have also sponsored the publication of four ESP SIG books, and for this we are indebted too. With Garnet’s sponsorship we have been able to develop a solid set of EAP and ESP publications which we will now have to maintain in our own right.

It is now necessary to make plans for the future of the journal. The opinion of the ESP SIG committee and the journal editors is that they should take this opportunity to switch to an electronic version of the journal in the immediate future in order to keep up with the times. The committee wanted to know what members thought of this proposal. A short questionnaire was sent out. The committee hoped that IATEFL would publish the findings, but, as they didn’t, here they are:

1. Are you a member of IATEFL ESP SIG? (69 responses)

Yes, individual member. 65
Yes, institutional member. 2
No, not a member. 2

2. Do you read the IATEFL ESP SIG Journal? (69 responses)

Yes, always. 42
Sometimes. 21
No, never. 6

3. If you read the IATEFL ESP SIG Journal, (65 responses)

it is my own copy. 60
it is a friend/colleague’s copy 3
it’s an institutional copy. 2

4. If you do not read the ESP SIG Journal, why not? (14 responses)

I never see it. 5
A colleague steals it before I get the chance to read it. 0
It’s boring. 0
Other 9

Other includes: workload, lack of time, didn’t know it existed, not relevant, never see it.

5. What do you think of the Journal overall? (64 responses)

Index Count
Fantastic 1 8
2 38
3 15
4 3
Terrible 5 0

6. Would you prefer to keep the paper journal or should it go electronic? (70 responses)

Keep the paper version. 9
Change to a digital version 38
Both 16
Other 7

7. Which sections do you read?

I always read them. I sometimes read them. I never read them.
Articles 40 19 2
Reports 17 38 3
Reviews 22 35 3

8. What is your opinion of the various sections?

I like them very much. They’re OK I don’t like them.
Articles 41 20 1
Reports 21 36 0
Reviews 28 32 1

9. What do you think of the content?

Enough. Right amount. Not enough. Too much.
Academic English (EAP) content 17 27 6 6
Professional English (EPP) content 11 30 15 1
English for Work (EOP) content 12 23 18 2

10. Who do you teach – tick all that apply? (66 responses)

Index Count
Academics 10 17
Teachers 9 23
Professionals 8 24
Manual Workers 7 7
Graduate Students 6 30
Undergraduates 5 50
High School 4 7
Children 3 3
Unemployed 2 1
Others 1 6

11.What level are your students? (64 responses)

Index Count
Advanced 4 51
Intermediate 3 51
Elementary 2 19
Beginners 1 9

12. Is there anything else you would like to see in the journal? (16 responses)

  • Conference announcements for timely, active participation and research funding options for international scholars
  • More about teaching young professionals
  • A letters section would be good.
  • Academic articles on genre writing and global Englishes-scientific research
  • Practical activities rather than just formal articles etc.
  • It would be nice to see the articles indexed online for ease of retrieval
  • Perhaps some more summaries of relevant research articles.
  • Less theory. More classroom based practitioner research
  • Less from Anglo-Saxon based perspective – more on global Englishes – I guess Garnet Publ. was Anglo-Saxon from the sound of it. How about finding an Asian sponsor?
  • I guess I am happy with the way it is. Thank you all! I marked both (paper and electronic options, though I do realise there’s just one feasible -electronic, right? 🙂
  • More variety in terms of contributors and reviewers
  • Different authors. Fresh takes on EAP that don’t converge with the status quo would be welcome. I turn off when I see the see the same name / same themes again and again. Something different, something challenging! Go digital. My experience from
    working on an an IATEFL publication was that we had to go digital or go bust.
  • Open section, where members in year 2 can report / comment on benefits / weaknesses of reports provided in reports / articles in previous year (year 1)
  • Teaching tips or classroom materials used for EAP. I also teach engineers, architects, social workers, visual communication students and conservation & restoration students, for example, so it would be nice to see something for those in the English for work section i.e. books, teaching ideas.
  • EAP for year 11 and 12 secondary school students
  • Perhaps an ESP teaching question/answer section….around practical teaching issues.

AJG Comments: I think you will see that most people are happy with the present structure of the journal, with its article, book reviews and conference reports.  There were some interesting comments and the committee will try to take note of them in future issues. However, the topics covered are determined largely by the contributions the journal receives.

I would particularly like to respond to the person who said: “Less from Anglo-Saxon based perspective – more on global Englishes – I guess Garnet Publ. was Anglo-Saxon from the sound of it. How about finding an Asian sponsor?”

A quick survey of the SIG committee and the last few journals shows:

Current ESP SIG Committee
1 English
2 Turkish
1 Polish
1 Greek
Previous: Nepali
Current editors
Editor in Chief: Polish
Editor 1: English
Editor 2: South African
Previous: Nepali
Issue 47
Editor: England
1 UK
1 Japan
1 China
1 India
1 Indonesia
1 Brunei
Issue 46
Editor: South Africa
3 Austria
1 Russia
1 Nigeria
1 Cuba
Issue 45
Editor: South Africa
1 England
3 Japan
2 Japan
Issue 44
Editor: South Africa
1 England
1 Greece
4 Argentina
1 Italy
1 Russia

It is also worth pointing out that that Garnet Education is Lebanese owned.

I do not think this counts as being predominantly Anglo-Saxon.

How to write – What to write.

I’ve often quoted Frank Smith when discussing writing.  In Writing and the writer, Smith distinguishes between “composition” and “transcription” in writing. “Composition” is deciding what you want to say, and “transcription” is what you have to do to say it. His advice is “The rule is simple: Composition and transcription must be separated, and transcription must come last. It is asking too much of anyone, and especially of students trying to improve all aspects of their writing ability, to expect that they can concern themselves with polished transcription at the same time that they are trying to compose. The effort to concentrate on spelling, handwriting, and punctuation at the same time that one is struggling with ideas and their expression not only interferes with composition but creates the least favorable situation in which to develop transcription skills as well” (Smith, 1982, p. 24).

After watching Juzo Itami’s 1995 film Shizukana seikatsu (A quiet life) recently I decided to read  Nobel prize winner Kenzaburu Oe – on whose novel the film is based. In his novel The Changeling, he deals with a similar situation: Continue reading

IATEFL ESP SIG PCE, 2016 – Overview

I’ve just returned from the IATEFL English for Specific Purposes (ESP) Special Interest Group (SIG) Pre-Conference Event (PCE) in Birmingham, UK.

The theme of the PCE was tensions and debates in ESP and EAP.

As usual it was a very interesting day with teachers from many parts of the world discussing how they go about trying to meet the academic and professional linguistic needs of their students, sometimes with limited resources. Continue reading


I recently took part in a TESOL – IATEFL online discussion about how ESP projects can create positive social change.
Kevin Knight – the organiser – gave us the following task:
You are all members of a task force team to provide language training for employees of multinational corporation. The HR department of the company is interested in your ideas about providing not only in-house training but also involving local universities in the training of its employees. In addition, the HR department is wondering how such training could be connected to its annual report on Corporate Social Responsibility. Share your ideas in connection with the big picture: How ESP projects can create positive social change.

Continue reading

Where Next for EAP?

There has been much discussion recently about what exactly students have to do in order to succeed in HE. Gillett & Hammond (2009), for example, identified a range of tasks that need to be managed in order to succeed and Nesi & Gardner (2012) looked in great detail  at the genres which students need to work with. This has been a very useful contribution to the development of EAP.  However, Feak (2011) identifies the difficulties that some students might have with these genres in multidisciplinary degrees and courses.  Furthermore, my  recent experience working with students from one discipline, business students, has shown that many of the assignments that the students have to produce are much more complicated and not so easily classified.  I’d like to show some examples of these and ask how we can best help our insessional students to deal with them.

Continue reading

Feedback – Who is it for?

I was visiting a colleague’s office recently and he showed me a piece of student work from another university where he was an external examiner. The piece of work was covered with red ticks, crosses, under-linings, crossings out and illegible comments. We discussed it and came to the conclusion that this feedback – if that’s what it was – was not very useful and that it was something that he – as an external examiner – should comment on. As I was leaving the office, I suddenly thought of something and went back to look at the text again. As I thought, the text was on formal examination paper and it was clear that the writing we had been looking at was an examination answer, something that the students would (might) never see again. It made me realise that comment/feedback on student writing – as with all writing – depends on purpose and audience, something that does not seem to have been discussed elsewhere. Continue reading