In schools that train pupils in the vocations and in special techniques, in those devoted entirely to the arts or sciences, and in those offering specialized courses and training for other than an academic degree, great care must be exercised not only in selecting textbooks but in drawing up a course of study which will be in harmony with the particular interests of the students. Unfortunately very few specialized language textbooks are available for such schools, but material can be mimeographed and distributed to the students.

In some large centers variety in the course of study has already been achieved. Nevertheless, every teacher, especially in small communities, should bear in mind the various talents of the students and their particular interests, especially when those students can be easily grouped or directed toward a definite goal. Language study has taken a great spurt in schools where students working for a domestic science degree with emphasis on cooking, dressmaking, or millinery, have been introduced to the French vocabulary in these fields and have been encouraged to read French books, articles, and pamphlets dealing with their special interest.

To be specific, for majors in cooking, French, Italian, or Spanish menus can be mimeographed and lists drawn up containing technical words such as soufflé, fondue, pièce de résistance, filet, pâtisserie, paté, ragoût, sauté, brioche, croissant, cave, and any others that are useful in translating the recipes to be found in the many cookbooks now published in French. Particularly attractive recipes that the girls might use in their cooking class or at home may be mimeographed and distributed to the students for their cooking notebooks. The same method can be used in an Italian class in high school so that students will become familiar with such words as antipasto, minestrone, ravioli, risotto, pizza, cacciatora, scaloppine, and zabaione.

The same adaptation of courses to specific needs has been applied in the study of German in many technical schools, and the gain for the student in this direct preparation for a career has been invaluable. In commercial schools, particularly those which emphasize foreign banking or foreign trade and which require contacts with foreign countries, such as those of South and Central America, the vocabulary in Spanish and Portuguese and the work in composition should be modified to prepare the students for communication with these lands. Reading material that is chosen from magazines, newspapers, trade journals, and even novels and short stories should help prepare them more directly for their future work in a foreign country. The conversation work in these classes might well include training in long-distance telephone calls, and the simulation of situations likely to occur in doing business abroad, for the pupils should acquire a knowledge of the special vocabulary needed for such communications. The social life and any peculiarities in doing business in a foreign country should be a subject of study so that a student may develop a sympathetic understanding of the people with whom he will have to deal, before actual contact takes place. The most practical preparation here is to dictate typical dialogues or conversations and have the students act them out. The instructor may also pretend to be a foreigner and improvise questions which will require spontaneous use of the specialized vocabulary by the students. A variation of this technique is to have the students act out a scene in which they use the dialogues they have learned or similar dialogues they invent to suit the situation. Dialogues may be suggested by a comic strip shown to the class.

In military and naval academies and schools that offer training in international relations and diplomacy, the course of study is now particularly adapted to the needs of the students. This direct approach to a specific language problem eliminates waste of time in this preparatory period of their careers. The adaptation of courses and even of methodology to the specific needs of schools and students can be greatly developed. To date, little of a really constructive nature has been done in this field. If enough students with special interests could be grouped in one class or school and material suited to their needs could be prepared for them, they would benefit greatly thereby, and the practical value of language study would be proved once more.

On the level of higher education, technological schools, particularly the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, have tried to meet these needs. The Latin-American Institute, the Department of State Language Institute, the Army and Navy Intelligence Schools, and the Institute of Languages and Linguistics of Georgetown University, directed by Professor L. E. Dostert, have made this their particular concern. On the high-school level, where students have to meet state or municipal academic requirements to obtain a diploma, it has been harder to change the language syllabus completely. Textile high schools, however, have drawn up special vocabularies like those suggested above for majors in dressmaking and costume designing. For students planning to become buyers for importing houses or department stores, conversational and composition topics can easily be adapted in line with these interests. It must not be forgotten that the United States will need more and more translators, interpreters, and secretaries for diplomats and international bankers and businessmen; and that publishing houses, radio and television companies, and the foreign service – to say nothing of the F.B.I., social service, and libraries – also need linguists.

An example of what has been done is the fact that after 2 years of high-school German some engineering schools require their students to take specialized language courses in which all the reading material is taken from articles on engineering. The translation of articles from technical journals, German patents, trade catalogues, and engineering equipment advertisements is emphasized. In some schools of business the reading material for required courses in Spanish and French is taken from Spanish and French business and economic periodicals; these courses also stress commercial correspondence in the foreign language in place of the usual composition assignments. Although a few scientific, chemistry, and economics textbooks have been published for special students in Spanish, German, and French, the very rapid scientific advances and the changes in economic theory and business management have made current periodicals in these fields more practical for class and library use. When students have been unable to subscribe to these periodicals because of financial reasons, excerpts from them have been mimeographed and distributed to the class daily or weekly.

Since so little material for such courses long remains up to date, the teacher may find it necessary to mimeograph his own lessons, prepare his own audio-visual materials such as posters and other illustrative materials, and watch his students’ progress that results from his own initiative and enthusiasm. If his efforts are successful, he will inspire others and see his ideas spreading in a relatively new field of language teaching. However, to avoid the possibility of errors, a young teacher should have the material he prepares checked carefully by an experienced teacher or an educated native.

Edmond A Méras (1954) A language teachers’ guide. New York: Harper & Brothers

Routledge Introductions to English for Specific Purposes

ESP books are rare, but Routledge have recently published a series called: Routledge Introductions to English for Specific Purposes, edited by Brian Paltridge and Sue Starfield – well know joint editors of the Handbook for English for Specific Purposes (Wiley, 2013).

According to the blurb: Routledge Introductions to English for Specific Purposes provide a comprehensive and contemporary overview of various topics within the area of English for specific purposes, written by leading academics in the field. Aimed at postgraduate students in applied linguistics, English language teaching and TESOL, as well as pre- and in-service teachers, these books outline the issues that are central to understanding and teaching English for specific purposes, and provide examples of innovative classroom tasks and techniques for teachers to draw on in their professional practice.

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At the ESP Special Interest Group (SIG)  meeting at the IATEFL conference in Brighton this year, there seemed to be some lack of agreement as to whether EAP was a type of ESP. This was shown in several presentations – and committee discussions – when ESP seemed to be contrasted with EAP.  People would say and write things such as “In ESP and EAP” and “it is true in ESP, but what about EAP?”

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Languages for Specific Purposes: Review.

Language for Specific Purposes. Sandra Gollin-Kies, David R. Hall, and Stephen H. Moore. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.

Theoretical and practical books about ESP teaching are rare, so I was happy to see this book available recently. Although the title is “Languages for Specific Purposes”, most of the examples are from English and as well as that useful research from other languages is included. The book is highly recommended to all ESP, including EAP, teachers.

In Language for Specific Purposes, Gollin-Kies, Hall, and Moore provide a good overview of the history, concepts, application, pedagogy and research of language for specific purposes (LSP).

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ESP and Common Sense

I remember a number of years ago, after a morning of evaluating student oral presentations with a colleague and wondering why they sometimes said strange things, I mentioned that it seemed to me that people lost their common sense when they were speaking a language they were not very confident in. My colleague – who was a good linguist and had never experiences such issues – disagreed.

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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 4 might be useful in ESP business contexts! Books 5, 6 & 8 might be useful in EAP situations!

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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:

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