ESP News

ESP News, Volume 12:1 (March 2005)

by User Not Found | 11/08/2011

ESP News

In This Issue...

  • Leadership Updates
    • From the Current Chair
    • From the Chair-Elect
  • Convention Updates
    • TESOL 2005 Convention: ESP-Sponsored Sessions
  • Articles and Announcements
    • Using Free Hi-Tech Online Communication Tools to Train EFL in ESP Students to Think Critically and Independently
    • An ESP Program at the King of Prussia Mall
    • Teaching ESP Using Problem-Based Learning (PBL)
    • Does ESP Mean Content Expert?
    • Workplace ESL, USA
    • Legal English, USA
    • International Professional Communication Conference, Ireland
  • Reviews
    • Web Site Review: Justice Talking, NPR
    • Arlyn Freed’s ESL/EFL English for Specific Purposes Links Web Page
  • Community News and Information
    • About the English for Specific Purposes Interest Section

Leadership Updates

From the Current Chair

By Debra Lee, current chair, e-mail:

In taking over from Mark Freiermuth, I must say that the ESP-IS was in great shape, so I had very little to do. Thank you again, Mark, for your great leadership. To me, Mark is Obi-Wan Kenobi; he had the answer to every problem I encountered.

The proposal review went extremely well, with all of our proposal readers completing their assigned reviews on time. Thank you very much! Without you the review would be impossible.

On a less positive note, we were not without problems during the proposal review process and have asked TESOL for some answers. Come to the ESP planning meeting for details and to provide suggestions for improvement of the system. Also, the transition to TESOL’s server was not quite as easy as it first appeared, but Sue Barone, our masterful webmaster, solved everything. Thank you, Sue, for your hard work.

TESOL 2005

Networking Session: We will continue Mark’s tradition of an ESP networking session at TESOL 2005. This year we received a TESOL grant to cover beverages and snacks for the networking session, which will be held on Thursday, March 31, from 12:00 to 1:30 p.m. in the Marriott River Center, Conference Room 6.

Lead a Discussion Group at the Networking Session: We want to do more than have a snack break, so if you are interested in leading a discussion group during the networking session, please let me know by March 21 at In past sessions, we have had groups on business English, legal English, starting your own business, language policy, and EAP/ESP distinctions, to name a few. We want to ensure that all our members, plus other TESOL IS members, who are also invited, have a reason to join us as we discuss areas of interest to the TESOL community.

Online Planner: The best way to find all the ESP sessions on OASIS, TESOL’s online planner, is to use the advanced search function and look for all sessions for ESP-IS. If you click on ESP on the browse page, you will find some presentations that are not ESP and some accepted presentations missing. I have talked to TESOL about this, but apparently it cannot be fixed for this conference. Visit the planner online at

ESP Job Postings: ESP-IS was reminded not to post jobs on its electronic mailing list, but considering the lack of jobs specifically for ESP, I will again bring this up at TESOL 2005 as a possible exception to the prohibition on job postings on IS lists.

General News

After receiving requests on the ESPIS-l list, I contacted TESOL about discounts for English for Specific Purposes and English for Academic Purposes from Elsevier. The publications manager is now looking into discounts for TESOL members. I will check on the status in San Antonio and let you know what is happening.

In case you didn’t know, we currently receive discounts for other journals. Visit to find out which journals TESOL members can order at a discount.

I look forward to seeing you in San Antonio. Please drop by the ESP Booth or attend the networking session and say hello.

Debra S. Lee, current chair of ESP-IS, is ESL coordinator/assistant professor at Nashville State Community College, Nashville, TN, USA.

From the Chair-Elect

By Charles Hall, e-mail:

Following Mark Freiermuth and Debby Lee is both a challenge and a treat. First, they’ve done such good work that it will be hard for me to make improvements. Second, they’ve done such great work that major improvements aren’t needed!

I’m looking forward to talking with you about projects we may wish to undertake during the coming year. Thanks so much for your help and support this past year.

TESOL 2005

Networking Session: Continuing Mark’s tradition of arranging an ESP networking session, this year Debby applied for and received a TESOL grant to cover beverages and snacks for the networking session to be held on Thursday, March 31, from 12:00 to 1:30 p.m., Marriott River Center, Conference Room 6.

Academic Sessions and InterSections: It was a great pleasure to help put together this year’s sponsored sessions. I’m really pleased with both the topics and the presenters who’ve agreed to participate. I hope you will try to attend both sessions.

ESP Academic Session: Language Planning and the Global Labor Force
Thursday, March 31, 2–4:45 p.m.
Marriott River Center/Salon E
How can a country’s language planning and language policy (LPLP) decisions support or harm the development of a trained labor force? In discussing LPLP, the presenters examine policies that affect English for occupational purposes programs, trainers, and materials in Africa, Asia, North America, and the Middle East.
Craig Dicker, Anne E. Lomperis, Sabiha Mansoor, Suchada Nimmannit

ESP/Refugee Concerns InterSection: The Role of ESP in Refugee Programs
Wednesday, March 30, 9:30–11:15 a.m.
Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center/206
In refugee programs in EFL and ESL contexts, ESP training can be crucial in helping refugees find or prepare for employment. The presenters discuss the range of such training from short-term survival workshops to long-term career-oriented programs. They also share best practices learned from workplace and camp-based projects.
Miriam Burt, Jonathan Lathers, Debra Lee, Ronna Timpa

Charles Hall, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Applied Linguistics in the Department of English at University of Memphis, Memphis TN USA, focusing on Legal English, Curriculum Development, and Materials Development.

Convention Updates

TESOL 2005 Convention: ESP-Sponsored Sessions

ESP-IS InterSection and Academic Sessions

ESP/Refugee Concerns InterSection: The Role of ESP in Refugee Programs
Wednesday, March 30, 9:30-11:15 a.m.
Convention Center, Room 206
Presenters: Miriam Burt, National Center for ESL Literacy Education, USA
Jonathon Lathers, Lutheran Social Services of Michigan, USA
Debra Lee, Nashville State Community College, USA
Ronna Timpa, Workplace ESL Solutions, USA

ESP Academic Session: Language Planning and the Global Labor Force
Thursday, March 31 2:00-4:45 p.m.
Marriott River Center, Salon E
Presenters: Craig Dicker, RELO, U.S. Department of State, Hungary
Anne Lomperis, Language Training Designs, USA
Sabiha Mansoor, Aga Khan University, Pakistan
Suchada Nimmannit, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand

All ESP-IS Sponsored Sessions

Wednesday, March 30

7:30-8:15 a.m.

Plagiarism in Different Cultural Contexts


8:30-9:15 a.m.

Making the ESL to ESP Transition


9:30-11:15 a.m.

ESP/Refugee Concerns InterSection


10:30-11:15 a.m.

Issues in Teaching English to Indigenous Students


12:45-1:30 p.m.

Preparing Business Professionals to Give Oral Presentations

CC/Exhibit Hall

12:45-1:30 p.m.

Student Journals as a Needs Assessment Tool

CC/Ex. Hall

2:00-2:45 p.m.

Building Knowledge of Genres Through Textual Interactions


2:00-2:45 p.m.

Practical Techniques for Paraphrasing in EAP


2:00-4:45 p.m.

Sorting Out ESP, CBI, and Other Cousins


4:00-4:45 p.m.

Internet-Based Projects for Business "Net-Working"


7:00-7:45 p.m.

Raising the Bar in an MBA Program


Thursday, March 31

7:30-8:15 a.m.

A Generative Framework for ESP Courses


7:30-8:15 a.m.

Academic and Nonacademic Skills for MBA Students


7:30-8:15 a.m.

Four Successful Projects for ESL Tourism Students


8:30-9:15 a.m.

Creating and Validating ESP Writing Scoring Rubrics


8:30-9:15 a.m.

Interagency and Interdisciplinary Collaboration in Adult VESL


9:30-10:15 a.m.

Developing a Program to License Immigrant Nurses


10:30-11:15 a.m.

Real-World ESP in Higher Education


12:00-1:30 p.m.

ESP-IS Sponsored Networking Session
Beverages and Snacks


12:45-1:30 p.m.

Opening Minds to the World

CC/Ex. Hall

2:00-4:45 p.m.

ESP Academic Session


2:00-2:45 p.m.

Avoiding the Pitfalls of Workplace ESL


3:00-3:45 p.m.

Fun in Workplace ESL Classrooms


4:00-4:45 p.m.

An Innovative EOP Model Designed for Impact


7:00-7:45 p.m.

Best Practices in Pre-MBA Programs


Friday, April 1

7:30-8:15 a.m.

Teaching and Motivational Strategies for ESL Science


7:30-8:15 a.m.

Using Case Studies to Teach Business English


9:30-10:15 a.m.

Cultural and Disciplinary Variation in Academic Discourse


12-1:00 p.m.

Business Meeting
All ESP-IS Members



Pilot Training for International Postdoctoral Researchers


Saturday, April 2

7:30-8:15 a.m.

Starting Your Own Workplace ESL Business


8:30-9:15 a.m.

Do ESP Instructional Outcomes Transfer?


9:30-10:15 a.m.

A Content-Based EFL Course for Engineers


10:30-11:15 a.m.

Creating Professional ESL Classes Beyond Business English


12:45-1:30 p.m.

Using Base Groups in the ESL Classroom

CC/Ex. Hall

12:45-1:30 p.m.

Learning Strategies of Japanese Nursing Scholars

CC/Ex. Hall

2:00-2:45 p.m.

Using Corpus Work in the Classroom


3:00-3:45 p.m.

Using Runaway Juries to Teach Legal English

CC/ 213A

3:00-3:45 p.m.

The Reality of Workplace Writing


ESP-IS Meetings

Tuesday, March 29

6:15-7:45 p.m.

IS Steering Committee Meeting
ESP-IS Steering Committee Members


Wednesday, March 30

5:00-7:00 p.m.

Open Meeting
All ESP-IS Members


Friday, April 1

12-1:00 p.m.

Business Meeting
All ESP-IS Members


Articles and Announcements

Using Free Hi-Tech Online Communication Tools to Train EFL in ESP Students to Think Critically and Independently

By Buthaina Al-Othman, e-mail:

Opportunities and Challenges

Teaching intermediate to high-intermediate English for specific purposes (ESP) science English classes in the English as a foreign language (EFL) environment in Kuwait has provided the class instructor with opportunities to learn more about the ways of thinking and strategies of learning used by Kuwaiti students who have completed their previous education in Kuwaiti public schools.

Despite the fact that many of these students have good speaking and listening skills acquired from watching American-English movies, most of them lacked the skills of independent and critical thinking, particularly when practicing reading and writing activities online.

With the growing industry and development of educational Internet communication technologies (ICTs) resulting in effective teaching and learning in the EFL/ESL classrooms worldwide, a number of online task-based activities that supported and encouraged independent learning and critical thinking through online searching, reading, and writing were designed for an English for Science (EfS) female sophomore class taught in the English Language Unit at the College of Science. These online activities were planned and created to help students complete a required final project of writing and presenting a short term paper.

The main activity of the final project required students to present their final term papers either in a face-to-face traditional classroom or online before a remote group of international ESL/EFL teachers from Webheads in Action, an online community of practice (CoP) formed in 2002. This audience included ESL/EFL professionals and experts in the field of education from all over the world. For this purpose an online chat portal, which supported text and voice and had a facility to project PowerPoint or html files as web pages, was used. The Alado voice-chat portal was provided free to the Webheads CoP courtesy of The Webheads in Action portal page can be viewed at The Alado voice-chat portal can be viewed at

Nine students volunteered to do online presentations at the Webhead’s webcast portal. The multiple-venue presentations (MVPs) were delivered before the local audience composed of the 13 in-class student presenters and the class instructor who were physically at the Kuwait University Distance Learning Center and the remote audience of eight ESL/EFL Webheads teachers from Denmark, Spain, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Portugal, Germany, Greece, and Brazil.

The purpose of this project was to show that using instructional technology is feasible and effective in an all-female class at the university level in an EFL environment characterized by a conservative culture. In addition, it demonstrated that e-learning can encourage a student-centered learning environment on the basis of critical thinking and independent learning.

The project required the class teacher to practice learning and teaching approaches and concepts on the basis of constructivist theories of learning and techniques learned through participation in Webheads in Action. She led her class as the “guide on the side” rather than as a “sage on the stage,” facilitating learning processes in her face-to-face classroom and online. To do this she used several free synchronous and asynchronous tools (ICTs), including e-mail, a message board, weblogs, web pages, and MSN and Yahoo instant messaging, to provide the necessary instructions and conditions for scaffolding to the group of students presenting online.

The project resulted in a positive, desirable outcome for both students and the instructor. It positively influenced and motivated the class, increasing various language, computer, and Internet skills. In addition, it created constructive academic competition among students. The in-class presenters reported being motivated to present online if they are given the opportunity in the future. The project offers concrete suggestions for ESP teachers in EFL/ESL around the globe to try this type of online activity. Results showed that it can help students enhance their English academic reading and writing skills with critical thinking, as well as assist them in developing e-learning strategies and techniques that are one of the main ways to learn in the information technology age.

Final Notes

The class instructor offers the following reflections on the students’ oral presentations, final general notes, and comments:

  1. The nine students who presented online were very observant and focused on one another’s presentations. They asked intelligent and interesting questions in a very efficient and professional way during the discussions that followed each presentation.

  2. The students were at all presentations and arrived on time, showing respect, interest, and enthusiasm toward presenters. They exhibited an awareness regarding the important role of the audience during presentation events, whether online or in-class.

  3. Most students performed very well in the final exam. The table shows the overall grades for all students.























  1. Students were motivated in general to continue their learning. The following semester one of them registered in an advanced elective science English course that teaches the skill of writing a critical analysis. Others requested information about distance-learning English courses to improve their speaking and listening skills.

  2. Although it was some students’ first experience with creating PowerPoint slides, they managed to produce very creative slides for their presentations, some of which included images and sound.

  3. The students who preferred to present in a face-to-face classroom tried to compete with those who presented online. This competition resulted in very good oral presentations by first-time presenters; they spoke good English in loud and clear voices and maintained good eye contact that reflected knowledge and confidence. They used professional expressions such as “I’m sorry I don’t know the answer” and “I’m sorry I didn’t research this point but I promise to further research it and bring you the answer as soon as I can.” This was beyond my expectations.

This web-based project, which used several synchronous and asynchronous online writing tools, integrating the webcasting technology of, was effective and resulted in a positive, desirable outcome for both the students and the instructor. It motivated students to look for new ways to improve their English, which means they are taking the first step toward independent learning, an essential approach toward learning in the 21st century.

Note: This student Web project was presented in the Internet Fair at the TESOL Convention 2004, Long Beach, CA, USA; visit

Project URLs

Buthaina Al-Othman teaches EFL and ESP in the Faculty of Science at Kuwait University. She has been using a blended teaching and learning approach in her ESP/English for science and EFL remedial classes since she started her teaching career in 2001. She completed her master’s degree in TESOL at the State University of New York, Albany, New York, in 2000. She has been an executive board representative of TESOL’s ESP IS since 2004 and a Webhead in actionsince the CoP was founded by Vance Stevens in 2002.

An ESP Program at the King of Prussia Mall

By Mary Ho, ESL instructor, King of Prussia Mall, e-mail:

Fielding customer questions is a daily occurrence for the custodians who work at the King of Prussia Mall, the largest retail shopping center in Pennsylvania and the Northeastern United States. However, many of the custodians are immigrants and have little or no English language skills. They feel anxious when approached by customers, and often end up taking time out to lead the way to phones or restrooms because they can’t give directions verbally. Federal Building Services, the cleaning contractors for the mall, decided to provide English lessons for their employees, and the King of Prussia Mall administrators donated classroom space and equipment on the mall premises. The Literacy Council of Norristown was contacted to provide the teacher and textbooks.

When I began teaching the classes in March 2004, I discovered some basics about developing an ESP curriculum: Time constraints make it essential that the language taught is functional and relevant, and the activities need to be geared for maximum language learning. An initial needs analysis interview with the manager of Federal Building Services revealed that within a 10-week period employees needed to demonstrate competence in answering customer questions, giving directions in the mall, and responding in emergencies. I administered a basic skills test to determine the students’ proficiency levels, which were all either at zero or low beginner proficiency levels. From the needs analysis and basic skills test results, program topics were narrowed down to providing personal information on forms and describing people and clothing, time and schedules, mall shops, emergencies, and locations and directions. Classes met Monday through Thursday for one hour each day until the end of the 10-week session.

I organized the topics into week-long modules that allow for repetition of vocabulary in different contexts. Textbooks never seem to have the specific language needed for this program, so I created a lot of my own materials. According to Richards and Rodgers (2001) competency-based language learning is task-centered, with an emphasis on authentic materials and what the student can “do” with the language (p. 146). I used actual photographs of mall facilities on overhead transparencies to introduce relevant vocabulary and I took the students out into the mall so we can practice the new words in an authentic context. Studies have shown that language development is facilitated by authentic interactions between the student and other speakers that lead to “negotiation for meaning” (Long & Robinson, 1998, p. 22). We practiced giving directions to each other in the mall and did collaborative tasks such as information sharing, problem solving, and role-playing to provide meaningful communication activities. Authentic materials such as current mall maps and photographs of actual locations in the mall provided visual support. The overall aim of the activities was to promote fluency and comprehensible language use.

A critical component of this ESP program is assessment. Because the main objective is oral competence, authentic problem-solving tasks such as actually giving directions in the mall were used to assess the students on an ongoing basis for oral comprehensibility, fluency, pronunciation, and vocabulary use. Bailey (1998) stated that “the authenticity of the stimulus material and the task posed to the learner are central concerns in designing performance tests” (p. 208). To minimize subjectivity, I used a rubric with specific criterion-level descriptors, and I assessed students frequently to demonstrate their progress. This form of assessment also helped me adjust my lessons plans if I noticed the students were having problems with some particular area.

The King of Prussia Mall Adult Basic English Course has very specific English language objectives for the employees. Several elements, particularly the limitations in resources and time, were considered in setting up this ESP program. A needs analysis helped determine the language focus, and authentic activities were chosen to get the students interacting right away in their work environment. Ongoing assessments measured the students’ progress in developing their oral language competence. At the end of the 10-week course the King of Prussia Mall administration treated the graduating students to a luncheon in their honor and provided certificates of accomplishment. Although the English learned in this ESP program may seem limited, it forms a solid foundation that provides students with the skills and motivation to continue their learning in the future. Some of the graduates of this program have gone on to pursue further English language courses.


Bailey, K. M. (1998). Learning about language assessment: Dilemmas, decisions, and directions. Boston: Heinle & Heinle.

Long, M. H., & Robinson, P. (1998). Focus on form: Theory, research, and practice. In C. Doughty and J. Williams (Eds.), Focus on form in classroom second language acquisition. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Richards, J. C., & Rodgers, T. S. (2001). Approaches and methods in language learning. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Mary Ho has taught ESL in Japan, China, and the United States with a focus on developing programs for novice learners. She received her MATESL from West Chester University, Pennsylvania, and is currently living in Hong Kong.

Teaching ESP Using Problem-Based Learning (PBL)

By Francisco Maya Rocha, e-mail:

The job market is becoming more and more competitive because of globalization. Potential employers for ITESM (Instituto Tecnologico de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey) graduates are demanding students who, in addition to having the necessary business and engineering skills, have a strong command of the English language and the ability to survive in a multicultural business environment. In addition, critical thinking skills and the ability to analyze and solve complex problems, relate and work well with others, and effectively communicate ideas and vision are a must for present and future graduates.

How can teachers at ITESM meet this challenge? Fortunately, research in education has provided the necessary elements: problem-based learning (PBL), collaborative work (CW), Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP) model, and usage of the Portfolio which is a systematic and organized collection of evidence used by the teacher and student to monitor and to assess the growth of the student's knowledge, skills and attitudes. PBL Insight, a newsletter for undergraduate PBL from Samford University, named more than 50 universities, in eight countries, who have faculty members using PBL ( The CW technique has been around for quite some time and every day more and more teachers are using it. The SIOP model for teaching content to English language learners is being strongly promoted by the SIOP Institute of the Center for Applied Linguistics ( A recent study by the U.S. Department of Education pointed out that a common denominator for 20 of the best schools in the United States was their usage of the Portfolio.

In this paper I explain how I have been able to use PBL and other pedagogical techniques to teach English for business purposes at a remedial V level with excellent results. In addition to developing the four basic skills of the English language (reading, listening, writing, and speaking), students review or learn concepts and vocabulary in several disciplines, such as marketing, management, finance, production, logistics, accounting, e-commerce, ethics in business, importing/exporting, cultural diversity, and business leadership.

The bottom-line results have been outstanding. Students gain motivation when they find a practical business use for their English skills, new awareness about their self-learning, enjoyment working with others, enhancement of their critical and analytic skills in resolving problems, and a tremendous increase in their TOEFL score. A byproduct for me, as an English teacher, has been making great strides in teaching EFL and business content to better meet EFL established standards. Benefits for a potential employer include a graduate with hands-on experience in resolving problems that is ready to work in a bilingual-bicultural business environment.

Francisco Maya Rocha is a graduate of the Indiana University School of Business. His involvement in business made him a recipient of the Advocate of the Year Award by the U.S. Small Business Administration in the state of Indiana. Presently he is an independent researcher in ESL/EFL and a teacher in the Language Department at ITESM-Campus San Luis Potosí. He has also developed a 60-hour course in English for business purposes.

A complete copy of this article is available by contacting him at:

Does ESP Mean Content Expert?

By Debra Lee, e-mail:

The following constitutes my small contribution to Christine Parkhurst’s and Buthaina Al-Othman’s TESOL 2005 EVOnline session “Making the Transition from ESL to ESP.” Many thanks to the course participants, especially Evan Frendo, Mary Ellen Kerans, Adam Turner, Kristin Hiller, Christine Parkhurst, and Buthaina Al-Othman, who caused me to reflect and change some of what I initially wrote.

Do ESP professionals have to be content experts?

No, but they need certain qualities to enable them to become better ESP teachers. The top 11 qualities on my list are below. The eleventh, but perhaps the most essential, comes from Evan Frendo from the EVOnline course. The list itself comes from great conversations with ESP colleagues; materials from Hutchinson & Waters, Robinson, Swales, and Dudley-Evans & St. John; and personal reflection.

  1. Curiosity and a willingness to learn about the content subject
  2. Tolerance for content ambiguity (You are not the expert and your students may not be either.)
  3. The willingness to let your students be experts
  4. Confidence in your ability as a language, not content, teacher
  5. The willingness to ask for content help (i.e., your colleagues in the Science Department or a conversation with an in-field expert)
  6. The ability to adapt content materials to meet the levels and needs of your students
  7. The willingness to forgo a vocabulary-driven class
  8. The ability to tie language to content (discourse analysis/concordancing)
  9. The ability to share your enjoyment of language learning with your students
  10. Understanding that it is your language ability that makes you a great ESP teacher
  11. Flexibility

Can you have too much content knowledge?

Yes! Many people with dual degrees (e.g., a JD and an MA TEFL) teach content and not language. When I first started teaching legal English after completing my MA TEFL program (I already had a JD), I had serious problems deciding what to teach. When I was working in Germany, housed in the language department but teaching only law students, the want of my students was for an introduction to the Anglo-American legal system, but the language department wanted/needed the students to speak and write English. Exams tested a student’s ability to read, translate, speak, and listen to English on content-related topics, but not to explain the law. What to do?

I pondered, reflected, and, in retrospect, spent too much time on the law. Of course, language was also covered, from vocabulary to grammar to pronunciation to culture. However, I remember discussions with TESOL colleagues about my EFL students’ want for a legal system introduction and not just the language that international students entering an American LLM program were seeking. In retrospect, I fear that in fulfilling wants, my students’ language needs were partially neglected.

Changes occur in 12 years of teaching ESP, and a 2003 article by Rebecca Smoak in the Forum, which discussed John Swales’ view of ESP teachers, helped me understand the nature of some of those changes. Smoak reports on Swales’ growth stages in ESP teacher development:

[N]ew ESP teachers seem to have to go through the same stages of development personally that the field has gone through since the 1960s—beginning with an urge to teach general English with technical vocabulary, moving to an awareness of the importance of sub-technical vocabulary and needs analysis, and emerging eventually to recognition of the need to use discourse analysis and linguistic corpora. At this point, they understand what ESP is.

The same can be said of content experts teaching ESP. They also move through a process similar to Swales’ stages, except they begin by teaching more content than language, then move to Swales’ latter two stages.

Do some types of ESP require more content knowledge?

The question also arises about whether some types of ESP require more content knowledge than do others. Charles Hall and I coined the phrasenonequivalent ESPs during a discussion about what actually constitutes legal English. ESP professionals often depend on students to be the content experts, but what happens if they are not? What if they are first-year business students or first-year medical students? Or what if they are students of law, a field that varies from one country to the next?

In equivalent ESPs, business concepts, such as total quality management (TQM), are taught in business courses around the world. The business concept, TQM, is the same. However, in nonequivalent ESPs, such as law, many of the concepts are different. For attorneys from civil law countries, consideration in contracts does not exist; the legal concept, not just the term, is nonequivalent. This means that legal English, a nonequivalent ESP, requires the addition of new content knowledge, an explanation of the law, rather than just language. Often the ESP teacher is the one providing that knowledge.

How does an ESP professional deal with a nonequivalent ESP? When facing a nonequivalent ESP class, consult your list of essential qualities. Remember that ESP professionals are not required to become doctors or attorneys to teach medical or legal English. However, a specialty in one or two ESP fields might help. The longer you teach a specific type of ESP course, such as medical English, business English, or legal English, the more content knowledge you absorb.

How do teachers become ESP experts?

There are, of course, many ways to become ESP experts in the content fields you teach:

  • Talk to your students.
  • Attend a content class.
  • Read content journals/magazines; even widely read magazines, such as Time or The Economist, provide interesting insights into various content fields, such as law or business.
  • Read content textbooks.
  • Talk to colleagues in the content field.
  • Surf the Web.
  • Read the ESP Journal and EAP Journal, which are great resources for discourse and corpus studies in content/university fields.
  • Read online journals, such as ESP World or The Internet TESL Journal.

In the EVOnline course, we had lengthy discussions about the need for content and whether an instructor could actually use a Time article on medicine to teach medical students. There really is not just one answer. In the final analysis, an ESP professional must remember the first rule of ESP: each course or new group of students requires at a minimum an informal needs analysis because each course or each group of students is different. As ESP professionals, we need to determine through ongoing needs analyses what we need to learn so that we can better teach our students.

All ESP professionals stretch their limits at one point or another. That is one of the most attractive aspects of teaching ESP. We, the teachers, are learners just as our students are. Enjoy the learning.


Dudley-Evans, T., & St. John, M. J. (1998), Developments in English for specific purposes: A multi-disciplinary approach. Cambridge, England Cambridge University Press.

Hutchinson, T., & Waters, A. (1987). English for specific Purposes: A learning-centered approach. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Robinson, P. C. (1991). ESP today: A practitioner’s guide. London: Prentice Hall.

Smoak, R. (2003). What is English for specific purposes? English Teaching Forum Online. U.S. Department of State. Retrieved 3 January 2005 from

Debra S. Lee, current chair of ESP-IS, is ESL coordinator/assistant professor at Nashville State Community College, Nashville, TN, USA.

Workplace ESL, USA

By Ronna Timpa, e-mail:

Last year at TESOL 2004, held in Long Beach, California, I presented a workshop entitled "Workplace ESL: What, How, and Why." It was held on the first day of the convention. The 40-seat room was standing room only. Everyone was eager to find out how to do this "Workplace ESL" thing. The energy in the room was unbelievable. Over 100 handouts were passed out.

The overwhelming response to the workshop led me to develop a certification seminar for workplace ESL. I planned a two-day certification training seminar in workplace ESL to be held in Las Vegas. The first seminar in December 2004 went so well that we added another one a month later. The second had participants from Florida, Canada, Nevada, California, and Washington State.

I plan to gauge interest at TESOL in San Antonio to see where and when teachers would like to have future training sessions.

Ronna Timpa is the founder of Workplace ESL Solutions.

Legal English, USA

Legal English Conferences

By M. Catherine Beck, e-mail:

Looking for conferences that focus on legal English? Don’t limit your attendance to ESP conferences. Content-based conferences are also good sources of information and great places to exchange ideas. I was fortunate enough to attend four excellent conferences in 2004. One of the many benefits I reaped from them was meeting and learning from colleagues—both fellow ESP for law practitioners and content specialists—and then extending that learning beyond the end of the conference.

TESOL 2004

In March 2004, I went to several wonderful TESOL 2004 presentations on course and materials development for nonnative speakers of English studying law in the United States. After going to Susan Reinhart’s presentation on developing listening materials for law students using videos of law lectures from the University of Michigan Law School, I began developing listening materials at my own law school with Susan’s help and advice. After meeting Karen Schwelle at another TESOL 2004 legal English presentation, I invited myself to visit her at Washington University in St. Louis (WUSTL) last summer. There I observed two classes for WUSTL LLM students: Karen’s Intensive Reading and Writing for LLM Students and Luisette Behmer’s listening and speaking class. Karen and Luisette provided me with lots of good advice and ideas to use with my own students.

Great Lakes Legal Writing Consortium

In May 2004, a legal writing professor from my law school and I facilitated a 1½-hour discussion with 30 legal writing professors from law schools in four states. The Great Lakes Legal Writing Consortium was hosted by Michigan State University College of Law, East Lansing, Michigan. Our topic, “Strategies for Dealing With Special Needs Students: Students for Whom English Is a Second Language,” was of particular interest to legal writing professors who find themselves teaching increasing numbers of nonnative speakers of English. Our lively discussion in the morning of this one-day conference lasted well beyond the lunch break. In the afternoon I attended two excellent sessions: “Collaborative Learning Among Students” and “Alternatives to Individual Written Feedback.” After the conference was over, one of the conference attendees, a law professor from another school, asked for my help in developing an ESL specialist position at her law school. For information about legal writing conferences in your area, contact the legal writing faculty at a nearby law school.

5th Annual ESP Institute

In July 2004, I presented “Academic Legal English: A Needs Analysis Approach” at the 5th Annual English for Specific Purposes Institute, Indiana Center for Intercultural Information (ICIC), Indiana University–Purdue University at Indianapolis, Indianapolis, Indiana. One of the participants in this conference was an attorney and ESP practitioner in Perú. We met several times during her conference stay in Indianapolis and exchanged information about our different teaching situations. Since her return to Perú, we have maintained contact through e-mail and continue to share ideas about teaching legal English. Information about future ICIC ESP institutes can be found at Institute 2005.doc.

11th Biennial Conference of the Legal Writing Institute

Also in July 2004, a legal writing professor at my law school and I copresented “Welcome to the LLM World: Strategies for Teaching Writing and Analysis to International Students” at the 11th Biennial Conference of the Legal Writing Institute (LWI), hosted by the Seattle University School of Law, Seattle, Washington. Our presentation was one of five sessions concerned with the teaching methods and materials best suited for teaching legal writing and analysis to nonnative speakers of English. Legal writing professionals from over 40 U.S. law schools attended this conference, and most provided sample syllabi and teaching materials. Prior to this conference I had met only a few legal writing professors outside of my own part of the country. This conference not only introduced me to legal writing faculty from all over the United States, it also expanded the network of colleagues with whom I now regularly share materials and ideas. Visit the LWI’s website at to find out about upcoming conferences, free membership in the LWI, and free subscriptions to their journal and newsletter.

Chicago Regional ESL Legal Writing Conference—coming up!

The Chicago Regional ESL Legal Writing Conference, May 6–7, 2005, will focus entirely on ESL issues. Contact Mark E. Wojcik, director of Global Legal Studies, John Marshall Law School, at for more information.

M. Catherine Beck is coordinator of the master of laws (LLM) ESL program at the Indiana University School of Law–Indianapolis, Indiana, USA, where she is responsible for developing and teaching courses to meet the language support needs of nonnative speakers of English enrolled in the LLM program.

International Professional Communication Conference, Ireland

By T. Orr, University of Aizu, e-mail:, Web page:

For those of you who would like to learn more about professional/technical English in the fields of science, engineering, industry, and business, I recommend attending the IPCC05 conference July 10-13 in Limerick, Ireland.

This is probably the best international conference on EST and related fields, and thus it attracts many well-positioned, well-published international scholars and practitioners. It is worth the investment of time and money to attend, in my opinion. I have been attending every year now since 2001 and plan to continue for many years to come.

The speaker list has just been posted at after the final round of eliminations by the conference referees. Standards for the presentations and accompanying proceedings papers are high, so presentations and papers that survive the cuts are usually very good.

Find more information about the conference at

Hope to see you this summer in Ireland!


Web Site Review: Justice Talking, NPR

By Karen Schwelle, e-mail:

Graduate students who are new to the United States often have a pressing need to build their listening skills to function in their academic programs. The National Public Radio (NPR) Web site ( is a valuable resource thanks to its extensive audio archives. One particular NPR show, Justice Talking, maintains a Web site ( that offers great raw material for listening lessons for law students and could also be useful for students in fields such as business or the sciences.

Justice Talkingis a weekly one-hour show about legal topics of current interest in the United States. It includes comments from experts on that program’s featured legal issue as well as interaction with a studio audience. Programs examine issues in areas such as criminal justice, disability rights, the economy and business, the environment and energy, gender equality, international affairs, and science and technology.

Visitors to the Justice Talking program archive will find program titles listed in reverse chronological order. Each program’s web page provides a one-paragraph written summary of the featured issue and a link to the audio file of the full program (Windows Media Player; 50 minutes) as well as a shorter opening story (four to five minutes) that introduces the issue. For example, the “Private Property, Public Interest” program’s opening story defines eminent domain and includes sound bites from homeowners, city officials, and others who either advocate or oppose the use of eminent domain. These shorter opening stories may be all that some instructors wish to use, especially if they simply intend to introduce the issue and let students discuss it.

The full 50-minute program includes the discussion among the experts, moderated by NPR correspondent Margot Adler. Though the discussions are civil, with few overlaps or interruptions, the questions and comments by the studio audience sometimes initiate passionate and colorful exchanges. Listening to this kind of discussion with the guidance of materials developed by EAP instructors would be valuable for students who have to be able to follow class discussions (often spiced with humor and slang) in their academic programs.

In addition to the audio content, each program’s page includes bios of the guest experts, links to relevant Web sites, the text of related laws and amendments, and a list of related books. Visitors may also read and participate in discussion boards for each program.

Though program topics are current they do not reflect the top legal news stories from the week they are broadcast. Several weeks or months pass between the date a program is taped for Justice Talking and the date it is aired. In addition, as the site does not offer ready-made listening lessons, instructors need to develop their own teaching materials.

Overall, the Justice Talking Web site is an excellent resource for instructors of graduate students, especially law students, who are at an intermediate or advanced level of English proficiency and who need to strengthen their listening skills and learn more about legal issues under discussion in the United States.

Karen Schwelle is an instructor in the English Language Programs at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, USA. She has developed and taught general EAP courses and courses for nonnative English-speaking students in the university’s LLM and MBA programs.

Arlyn Freed’s ESL/EFL English for Specific Purposes Links Web Page

Arlyn Freed has been collecting links from the ESP electronic mailing list and discovering some on her own, and has put together a page of Web links to ESP that includes dictionaries, glossaries, vocabulary improvement pages, and more.

The ESP categories included on this Web site are

  • Business English
  • Military English
  • English Exams
  • Banking and Finance
  • Medical English
  • Dentistry English
  • Engineering English
  • Science English
  • English for Academic Purposes
  • Computers and the Internet
  • Misc. Glossaries
  • Dictionaries
  • Vocabulary

Within each category are many links.

Check out the page at and let her know of other links she can add to her lists. She is particularly interested in links to law and nursing, as these are two big needs areas.

Comments about Web site content and design as well as links to be added can be sent to Arlyn Freed at

Community News and Information

About the English for Specific Purposes Interest Section

English for Specific Purposes Interest Section

TESOL's English for Specific Purposes Interest Section (ESPIS) is open to TESOL members who are interested in research and instruction designed to meet the unique English language needs of students and working adults in specific areas of study and employment by providing special training beyond that which is normally acquired by the average English speaker. The IS fosters the sharing of ideas, expertise, and specialized curricula among ESP practitioners to promote quality research, education, professional-development in ESP.

ESPIS Community Leaders, 2004-2005

Chair: Debra S. Lee, e-mail
Chair-Elect: Charles Hall, e-mail
Editor: Teri Wertman, e-mail

Web sites: and

Discussion E-List: Visit to subscribe to ESPIS-L, the discussion list for ESPIS members, or visit if already a subscriber.