ESP News

ESP News, Volume 14:1 (July 2009)

by User Not Found | 11/08/2011

ESP News

In This Issue...

Articles and Announcements

Letter from the Editor

Dear TESOL ESPIS Members,

Now that the academic year is winding to a close for many of us, the time has come to think about sharing some of your ESP practices and ideas with your colleagues through the ESPIS Newsletter. For example, in this issue, you will find a review that my colleagues and I did on some of the materials we recently used in courses for law and MBA students as well as an article from Kevin Knight about creating a global TESP Vision Statement.

In a few weeks, we’ll be ready to issue another newsletter that will include contributions from our new chair and our chair-elect about activities at the conference in Denver. After that, we would like to publish at least two newsletters per year. I would like to encourage all of you to submit an article for the next issue or an upcoming issue. Not only is this an excellent professional development activity, but it is also a way to share practices with our diverse interest section. Topics to consider include materials, textbook or conference reviews, or responses to articles.

If you want to submit an article for the newsletter, send it to me at the e-mail address below. All work should be prepared using APA format. Let me know if you have any questions.

Best regards,

Cathy Beck,
ESPIS Newsletter Editor

A Review of ESP Materials for Law and MBA Students

An Authentic Text for Teaching MBA Reading and Writing

M. Catherine Beck, Lecturer, English for Academic Purposes Program, Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis,

A needs analysis before designing two online EAP courses (one course in reading and the other in writing) for potential MBA students located in China indicated that the case study method poses problems for nonnative speakers of English, first in understanding the case studies and then in writing about them in online discussions or writing assignments. Having no experience with the case study method or business cases used in many MBA programs, I was grateful to discover The Case Study Handbook; How to Read, Discuss, and Write Persuasively About Cases from the Harvard Business School Press (Ellet, 2007).

After some introductory material about the case study method, the book consists of three major sections: Part I, Analysis, explains how to analyze a case using three case studies included in the book; Part II, Discussion, teaches how to talk about cases in class discussions; and Part III, Writing, demonstrates how to write a case-based essay, including a sample essay. Part IV includes the cases used in the remainder of the book.

The other EAP instructors and I found the textbook to be accessible both to us and to the students. We used this textbook as one of several in our 12-week online MBA reading and writing courses, and although we were not able to finish all of the chapters, students who were eventually admitted to the online MBA program reported that when they were assigned their first cases to read and discuss online, they knew exactly what they needed to do.

For more information about this textbook and other free materials for educators, visit the Harvard Business Review’s site at

Scaffolding the Case Analysis Approach Using Movies

Miki Hamstra, Adjunct Faculty, English for Academic Purposes Program, Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis,

Modeling the case analysis approach to first-year MBA students with no experience in American business schools can be challenging—particularly when it is presented in an asynchronous, online environment to students in China. Though Ellet’s (2007) The Case Study Handbook: How to Read, Discuss, and Write Persuasively About Cases provides a flexible, step-by-step approach for using this type of reading method, we found that EAP MBA students require opportunities to practice using the new method on smaller business text samples before they can effectively apply it to traditional business case readings. We therefore decided to scaffold this approach using movie scenes.

The climactic shareholder meeting in Other People’s Money (Jewison & Kidney, 1991), a movie starring Danny DeVito and Gregory Peck, portrays two alternatives for a failing company. As such, it is an ideal text for business students applying the decision case analysis method, one of the four business case analysis methods detailed in The Case Study Handbook (Ellet, 2007). Students need not watch the entire movie to understand the tensions. Providing students with a short movie synopsis, a transcript of the scene, and a digital copy of the scene that they stream to their computers gave them ample text to attempt an initial analysis. This exercise allowed students to employ the case analysis method on a concise text and gain confidence before moving on to more complex typical Harvard business case studies. In addition, a movie can vividly illustrate to business students that decisions go beyond facts and data and include emotional concerns, an important consideration for their MBA studies.

For more information about Other People’s Money and other business-related movies, browse titles at the Internet Movie Database site at

Online Listening and Reading Materials for MBA Students

Lori M. Bruns, Adjunct Faculty, English for Academic Purposes Program, Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis,

For my English for MBA Writing Course, I was looking for relevant topics that would not only interest my potential Chinese MBA students but also give them practice in working with business articles. While searching through business media sites online, I came across the Public Radio International (PRI) site. I was delighted to learn that not only did they include the text from talk shows or news reports that had aired on international radio stations, but they incorporated a link to the audio from the report. So, it was possible to both read and listen to the radio segments.

I asked my students to both read and listen to the reports that I had chosen for them, and then discuss the topic with their classmates in an online discussion forum. I included two or three questions with their instructions for each topic to focus them in their dialogues with each other. Typically, they answered my questions and then added their own ideas. The students quickly grew to love these assignments. They enjoyed being able to hear native speakers in the audio link while following along with the text. For several of them, new vocabulary was introduced in these articles, and they were able to both hear a native speaker using the vocabulary and learn how to spell the words through reading the text.

An additional benefit of the PRI site is the ease in searching for particular topics. I found it relatively simple to find articles that discussed business, specifically articles that focused on China and America. Because the articles I located were so relevant to what my students were experiencing, they were motivated to critically consider how the topics influenced their own lives and the world around them. I found the PRI site to be a well-received supplement to the other standard textbooks that were used in our course.

From EAP Reading Courses to ESP Reading Courses: A Great Text

Honnor Orlando, Assistant Director, Indiana Center for Intercultural Communication, Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis,

Thom Upton’s (2004) Reading Skills for Success: A Guide to Academic Texts is not only a definitive core text for regular EAP reading classes, but a valuable resource in ESP programs as well.

This book presents the skills needed for reading academic texts. It covers such topics as building vocabulary, recognizing pronoun referents, understanding logical connectors, determining main ideas, working with different organizational structures in texts, and taking notes. Specific reading strategies, including SQ3R, are discussed in detail. In addition, Upton provides numerous useful exercises to help students solidify the skills introduced.

In the ESP courses I teach, I find Upton’s book a great resource to use in conjunction with the specific purpose texts. The fundamental academic reading skills covered in Upton’s book are necessary and applicable to all academic fields. I found this text worked especially well in an English for MBA Reading course I taught. It was very easy and effective to direct the students to business texts to practice the skills we learned about in Upton’s book. In this way, students not only developed their ESP skills but gained experience with business texts. I asked students to do such things as find and identify the function of logical connectors in business case studies, consciously use the reading strategies in their business textbook assignments, and guess the meanings of unknown words in their business texts using the procedures set out in Upton’s book. Reading Skills for Success: A Guide to Academic Texts can serve as a central text in any ESP course.

Turning a Self-Study Tool for Law Students into a Classroom Exercise—In a Flash!

Frank M. Smith IV, Lecturer, English for Academic Purposes Program, Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis,

Aspen Publishers produces two sets of flashcards (called Law in a Flash: Contracts (2005) and Law In A Flash: Torts (2006)) as a self-study tool for law students taking classes in torts and in contracts Beyond self-study, though, these cards can be made into a great “game” and teaching tool for the classroom because the cards are rich in cultural references and full of legal vocabulary. The cultural references are designed to capture the imagination and attention of NES students, but sometimes ESL students don’t understand the references.For example, one card from the “Law in a Flash: Contracts” reads

Dorothy, owner of the Wizard of Odd-Sizes Shoe Store, and the Wicked Witch are chatting. Dorothy comments, ‘I’m planning on selling my ruby slippers for $50.’ Wicked Witch says, ‘Here’s my check. I accept.’ Could a contract result?

NES students instantly tap into endless reruns of the Wizard of Oz on TV and extensive merchandising related to the film, and they actually get the pun in “Wizard of Odd,” but ESL students are typically not familiar with Oz, the Witch, Dorothy, or the ruby slippers. Thus, using these cards in the classroom provides opportunities not only for vocabulary development and listening and speaking practice but also for cultural education.

I usually preselect a number of cards, develop a pre-activity vocabulary worksheet, and create an accompanying PowerPoint slide of the cultural references. Then I divide the students into two or more teams; they then draw cards and quiz the other team(s). They recognize the vocabulary from the worksheet, and as each card is read, I show the cultural reference on a PowerPoint slide and we discuss it. More often than not, at least one student has passing familiarity with the cultural referent once he or she connects to a visual and can then explain it to the other students. The challenged team then discusses the question (usually asking for it to be read again), argues it, and comes to a consensus. Thus, this activity provides speaking/listening practice, vocabulary development, cultural education, and practice of discussion skills and critical thinking skills, and it makes the students comfortable with a valuable resource for study. And we all have fun! The reference list has more information about the cards.


Ellet, W. (2007). The ASE study handbook: how to read, discuss, and write persuasively about cases. Watertown, MA: Harvard Business Press.

Jewison, N. (Director/Producer), & Kidney, R. (Producer). (1991). Other people’s money [Motion picture]. United States: Warner Bros. Pictures.

Law in a Flash Cards: Contracts. (2005). New York: Aspen Publishers. Available from

Law In A Flash Cards: Torts. (2006). New York: Aspen Publishers. Available from

Public Radio International. (n.d.). Retrieved May 26, 2009, from

Upton, T. (2004). Reading skills for success: A guide to academic texts. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Community News and Information

IR/PS Pacific Rim Vision Statement: Model for Global TESP Vision Statement

IR/PS Pacific Rim Vision Statement: Model for Global TESP Vision Statement

Kevin Knight,

In preparation for the 20th Anniversary Celebration of the Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies (IR/PS) at the University of California at San Diego, Professor Takeo Hoshi proposed the collaborative creation of a Pacific Rim Vision Statement by professors, alumni, and current students.

I had been responsible for proposing and helping to create the first global online management forum for the alumni and students of IR/PS entitled Issues for the Global Workforce and was a member of the IR/PS Alumni Board of Directors, so Professor Hoshi asked for my involvement in creating the Pacific Rim Vision Statement.

Plans were made for 15 threaded discussions, each led by one or two professors with expertise in the discussion topic, which were to be conducted simultaneously over a 2-month period. Professors, alumni, and current students had access to each of the 15 discussions through free IR/PS e-mail accounts.

After the 2-month period, the professors drafted statements on each of the respective discussions. I was also given the opportunity to draft a statement on the topic of intellectual property rights (IPR) based on my experience in this area with the government of Japan and my experience cohosting with IR/PS Professor Roger Bohn an online discussion on IPR. These statements were then edited by Dean Peter Cowhey and the other participating IR/PS professors and eventually compiled into the Pacific Rim Vision Statement officially endorsed by the participating IR/PS faculty and me.

How does this project relate to the teaching of English for specific purposes (TESP)? As the newly elected EOS (English in occupational settings) representative of the TESOL ESP Interest Section, I see the opportunity to employ on a global scale a model similar to the one used to create the IR/PS Pacific Rim Vision Statement. The objective of this project, however, would be to create a Global TESP Vision Statement.

My proposal is that the leadership of the TESOL ESP Interest Section draft a set of TESP-related statements that would be discussed online by the TESOL ESPIS community and the TESP communities of TESOL-affiliated organizations around the globe. The results of these discussions would be compiled into a Global TESP Vision Statement made available to the TESP global community for comment and eventually published with the endorsement of the participating organizations.

In addition to generating greater public awareness of TESP, my hope is that such a project would create greater unity and collaboration among members of the global TESP community.

I look forward to your participation when the project commences.