Is there a specific method for teaching ESP (English for specific purposes)?


ESP has been discussed in the literature in many ways, labelled as „vocabulary teaching‟ or „reading comprehension‟. However, it is a different field with its own syllabus design, terminology which changes accordingly and own participants.

ESP first started to be taught in the workplace for staff development. Since the 1980s there has been a vast development in ESP. Learners‟ needs changed in parallel with technological development.

ESP has been claimed not to have a method. Is there any specific method for General English? In fact, there are many methods and approaches to be used in the classroom effectively; teachers choose which one to use according to our participants. For example, with a group of graduate engineers who would like to communicate in their field and follow technological development all over the world: which method would you use? Translation method, direct method, audio-visual method? Having already identified their needs, you make the curriculum according to this. This is called the eclectism approach. As a teacher, lecturer or instructor, you choose the method which is the most appropriate for your own learners. In ESP, the advantage is that participants are more likely to be motivated and ready to acquire anything the teacher will transfer.


Needs analysis (NA) is used commonly in ESP to find out what learners‟ needs are. Without the needs analysis, a successful outcome cannot be expected at the end of the course. We should know why we do NA, what kind of needs are expected to be met, how it is going to be done etc. Brown (2016) points out collecting data from learners is crucial.

Hutchinson and Waters (1987) state that there are two types of needs analysis: a) target needs (what the learner needs to do in the target situation) and b) learning needs (what the learner needs to do in order to learn). I would add one factor to needs analysis as below:

Download full text

It has been published in the Journal of Teaching English for Specific and Academic Purposes

Cite as Kenny, N (2016) Is there a specific method for teaching ESP? The journal of Teaching English for Specific and Academic Purposes.Vol. 4, No.2, pp 253-260