Many factors, among which English for Specific Purposes is one, have made it possible to differentiate between many Englishes in terms of the various English-speaking geographical areas as well as different study fields. Do you know, for instance, that ESP understands English as a variety of languages? So,
None of all the above mentioned divisions can be dealt with or made way to without the interference of a major character, the only one who could still survive the technological progress. Highly performing robots can in no way replace or even imitate her/him. I mean the teacher par excellence...
Before talking about the utility of ESP in a developing country where technology is primitive or almost absent, let's first see how the manager of the ESP class should look like and how we can deal with ESP in a non-technical setting. It is true that ESP is a short cut to the welfare and prosperity of developing countries but the "how?" question is very important to answer first. Let's take the Moroccan setting as a sample.
On this basis, a teacher is more a necessity than a luxurious decoration in a computer assisted class. The teacher's role however is neither to spoon-feed the students nor to perpetually and endlessly badger them with convoluted questions. It is primarily to show her students the best way to learning by teaching them the strategies they should adopt toward learning, to be self-reliant. It emphasizes an active responsible and investigative approach to self-study and learning. In brief, the teacher acts as a guide in the classroom. The Chinese proverb styles it this way, "The teachers open the door, but you must enter by yourself".
In spite of all the progress that technology has reached recently, it seems unable to invade the classroom kingdom completely. It is true that technology has participated a lot in ameliorating and bettering the conditions of work in classroom settings, (the very source of its own development and evolving). It also takes part in the making of successful lessons through enriching them with para-linguistic materials such as Audio-visual aids, Software and Internet. Nevertheless, it cannot go farther than that, as to replace the teacher, for example. Its efficiency is not that powerful as to allow it to run a class by itself.
Therefore the old noble role of the teacher proves to be impenetrable and more a necessity than a luxuriousness. When technology tried to play the teacher-figure artificially, it failed because teaching is not only the act of transmitting information and knowledge "mechanically". It is, far more than simply that, a mixture of different sensations, feelings, looks, smiles, emotions, stimulus and response which the rigid technology, despite its apparent intelligence, lacks greatly. In brief, teaching is a complicated interactive task which only Man can perform. Consequently the teacher could not only be but a human being. Teaching is more an art that consists initially of feelings that technology does not and will never possess.
Thus, teaching is perhaps the one and only activity where technology can only provide furtherance and support but cannot manage or practice wholly. There are things in the teacher's job that only specialized human beings can understand and react to accordingly relying on the love they have for their noble mission. Technology misses that love which is the backbone of giving and not expecting to take. In a word, sacrifice. If technology is looked upon as a means to better what is good, Wordsworth said, "Love betters what is best."
I'm deeply convinced that the teacher's role have become compulsory and increasingly important in the modern societies. Thus, teachers will certainly succeed where politicians have failed. Teachers gain no profits in the on going phenomenon of polluting our planet through emitting toxic gases and radioactivity in the air. That's why teachers can bridge the gaps between all people from the four corners of the world so as to understand each other and communicate their thoughts about issues which concern them all to eventually become one to face the danger that is surely coming. Don't teachers propagate nobility before erudition?
A teacher of English, particularly, participates a lot in the reconciliation of many peoples all over the world and gathers them to confront the challenges, which threaten their lives. Our planet becomes as a village, doesn't it? What affects a country will automatically contaminate its neighbors. Chernobyl, Ukraine's major disaster at a nuclear power plant (16 April 1986), is just a model.
ESP is the teacher's main power to bring together these people to exchange ideas about issues of major interest such as the shortage of water, pollution, global warming, Ozone layer thinning, poverty, cloning, genetic engineering, racial cleansing and so on...
ESP is clearly a magic tool that teachers can manipulate effectively to eventually bring up the sharing of views through rational discussions. ESP is meant to do that and more. It fosters expertise and specialized curricula among ESP practitioners especially if they adopt (ESP IS): English for Specific Purposes Interest Section. The English Language used in this branch of ESP is the international language able to make people of the world listen to each other and stop just talking non-sense. On this basis the teacher is the messenger of knowledge, understanding, love, peace, and humanity (respectively). Because the teacher should always be a human being, technology will just keep aloof in case it is needed for help. The teacher is able to make people control technology and not vice versa.
Imagine a robot teacher or a teacher robot running a class. Both are worse than each other for learning.
Here is some interesting news for these teachers. They will soon be multi-functional monitors. Their duty is generally known as teaching structures, functions, grammar and vocabulary through the four famous skills, notably listening, speaking, reading and writing. This duty however will expand to include teaching science, economy and technology to name only a few. The internationally evolving character of the English language will somehow force them to be ambivalent. How many English languages are there?
Which English should we consider as standard, British, American, Australian, South African, Indian or eventually International? Teachers will first be determined to make it clear if it is
All in all this is not the urgent problem which has to be fixed. There are other features of this diversity which may affect the role of the teacher. Which "English" for which students? That's, in my opinion, the most urgent task teachers have to decide upon. Is it to teach English so that the students could read William Shakespeare or so as to surf the web. As I see it, both of them should be dealt with seriously because there is "some" of Shakespeare on the Web. Hence the importance of introducing the term English for Special Purposes (E.S.P) into our educational system to solve this ambivalence.
The syllabus for each group of students should be designed and shaped to satisfy their needs from English. Thus the syllabus should be Student-centered, that's to say the English Language is seriously selected and presented to fit each group apart. The targeted English is not learned to write books or give lectures. It is needed for short term purposes. Nonetheless, some students may need it for further academic studies. Generally speaking, most of them are after it just for the sake of acquiring the amount of vocabulary and functions necessary to communicate with the others within a specific narrow setting... Take hotel receptionists or taxi drivers for example. These people would not use as much English as a tourist guide or a bazaar keeper for example. These two categories of jobs require different classrooms, materials, methods and somehow different diction. Two separate "English languages" are to make the teachers' job more technical and specific. Consequently teachers need use new strategies to overcome the slight specificities which rule over the method of "English for special purposes". They first have to be aware of this diversity of purposes to get to know which English and which approaches and methods are more suitable for which classroom environment. The use and usage of English are to be carefully highlighted.
Even in academic schools the English taught to Science-oriented students is not the same as the one used in Letters-oriented students' classrooms. These differences ought to be recognized to make it easy mapping the future needed careers.
The computer, as a machine or vehicle, is the same in the bank, the supermarket, the post office or at home; but it is the program of each of them which make them so different that none can replace the other. They have separate jobs, functions, and tasks to accomplish. So is English which is at the same time "one" and "various". There is an independent English for each of the following branches: marketing, advertising, tourist guiding, media, medicine, engineering and so forth and so on. No doubt English has become the language of success in each field thanks to its power in the world of economy. Globalization will accentuate it sooner or later. The Dollar "speaks" English; and if any one wants to tie a relationship with it, he should first know how to communicate with it and its sources. Therefore, we have to deal with English on this basis. We should not ignore its influence and importance in the business world otherwise we'll keep turning around looking for a harbor that has never existed. Meanwhile we should develop our National language to cope with it; who knows one day the world will need to speak another language to embrace success and prosperity. For the time being, English is the language that the world understands well; so we should not underestimate its importance in our schools in order to match with the requirements of the labor market. That's the point.
The teachers of English as a foreign language are aware of this though the students and their parents don't seem to be concerned. No way! we are doomed to learn it so as to stay inside the tide and not be drifted away.
To get a good job nowadays means a lot. Students must first discover what they want. They also should know the appropriate short cut to get where they intend to go quickly but surely. They must know exactly what sort of studies they should take and which lessons they should attend and give more importance. They must forget about what they like and like what they have to do. They also must know what means can lead them where they can gain profit or only find a job. What skills they should develop to be accepted as candidates in the labor market and be selected as being qualified. To that end, English has to be a priority in students' interests to eventually harness their abilities to conquer technological fields which are now prevailing all over the business world. In a word, the students should consider the importance of the English language in their future professional life.
On this basis, English has become a necessity not a privilege for students to familiarize with the nature of electronic technologies (omnipresent in almost all occupations) and to situate themselves in their professional environment and in the world beyond.. Thus they should be aware of the fact that the English language has found itself a place in almost all business and financial systems. It is now considered as central to pioneering, discovering, learning, and marketing. In brief it becomes a world wide hookup for communication.
Thus English should be regarded and targeted as the most important factor on which success in life relies greatly. To achieve their goals, students should engage in a wide range of activities and operations paving them the way to master and own this "key" to work. These activities should be related to the very job they intend to do later: That's what we call English for Special Purposes.
To put it short, goals should be drawn and clearly framed. Which English for which future careers? And to what extent we are ready to form people able to participate in the prosperity of the country.
In the next papers we'll concentrate on tourism as a field that can benefit from this E.S.P we are talking about very a lot particularly that Morocco is planning to receive about 10 million tourists by the year 2010.
English as a school subject never seems motivating for the high school students because it has no apparent function in their immediate social environment. They simply believe it is optional in their quest for a job-based learning. There are many reasons behind this belief; the most important of which is that English in Morocco has not yet been introduced in our economical schedule. French is more effective in the labor market here. In Morocco, a non-English speaking country, any one can share this idea with the students. English is still valueless. It serves no goals that the French language can't. In other words, French is greatly sufficient for them.
This realistic view of the issue has made teachers suffer their students' indifference vis-à-vis English. However; good language learners, who excel at English, do that on purpose to show off as speaking English is more a privilege than a necessity for them. The syllabus designed and assigned to them makes things worse. It doesn't meet the students' interests and needs. It is not motivating at all.
Like many other teachers, I believe that teaching English in Morocco should be dealt with in a different manner. It is not necessary to forge or coin a new teaching method. There is a ready made approach which can be appreciated by the students as well as the teachers. English for Specific Purposes (E.S.P) proves the most useful approach to teaching nowadays. When we decide to adopt it, we can really make a great change in the perception of the efficiency and the utility of English in our schools. ESP can make our students their attitude and cease to be indifferent to English. They'll take it seriously when they realize its real impact on their future professional careers. The ESP approach has that powerful quality as to make the syllabus based on the analysis of the learners' needs and their own personal specialist knowledge of using English, not as a privilege, but for real communication. Furthermore, this methodology is rich as it can be identified in terms of three types.
According to David Carter (1983), the three types of ESP are as follows:
This approach is also capable of operating effectively in Heterogeneous learner group as well as in a Homogeneous learner group.
All in all, I wouldn't have recommended ESP if I have a slight doubt about its efficiency in the educational system we are all in need of. ESP is perhaps the sole outlet available to fix this problem of giving English the right value and position in our educational and professional tissue.
The following pages are trying to reach a full understanding of the importance of ESP as a methodology and its utility in a Moroccan context where French is still prevailing as the only language required in the labor market. N.B:Because it is a free research, I didn't really revise it for rectification. Do please enjoy it as it is! It may incite you to do a deeper research in the field.
Why do we have many unemployed graduate people while many sectors are in urgent need of qualified skillful workers? This is not a question! It is a bitter sarcastic fact.
Our educational system becomes almost an irony. It is badly outdated. Therefore it should be renewed completely to be more rational and practical so as to meet the expectations of the students and their parents; as well as those of the country in the first place.
Did we supply students with the tools which really helped them with their future professional life? If we did, why there are a lot of jobless graduates, now? But if we didn't, and we actually didn't, we should assess our educational system and see what we can do to solve this embarrassing situation for the students, the parents and the country economy above all. We should primarily think of a way to reintegrate and provide jobs for those troops of unemployed diploma-holders. This could be done through a second chance training program based on vocational skills; which couple with the labor market needs. It is obvious that the main problem of our educational system lies in the fact that there was and still is no clear route from education to employment. Most of our graduate students have a lot of theory but almost no skills. Now, what about a school-to-work strategy? It sounds a convenient cute plan of action.
We should adopt new programs which appeal to the new era in which qualified skilled workforce is predominant. That's to say a work-oriented learning. Like professional-formation (Al-Takwin Al-Mihani), this new approach to education assisted by career guidance will certainly give way to broader horizons in the field of employment: New factories will be built, new businesses will be set up and new trade projects will emerge. This sort of educational new strategy will contribute greatly to linking job training to long term economical development goals. Because it is an employment and training system vocation, it will surely encourage some students to self-employ themselves by managing a small business investment which could provide new job opportunities for others. In this case, the banks have a lot to do to prevent such initiatives from failure or bankruptcy through backing them with ideas, necessary capitals and facilities while the government could encourage them with long tax-free periods.
Yet this doesn't mean that ESP is useless with young students in secondary school settings. On the contrary, it is, nowadays, the most required method to meet both the learners' and the labor market needs. ESP branches are multiplying with time. Each branch is dividing into sub-branches. So ESP becomes more and more required and talked about all around the world. Take this example from Hutchinson & Water's tree of the sub-branches of ESP:
If ESP is activated in contexts where modernization is the target objective, Morocco now has all the reasons to adopt and approve it. The objectives of modernization in our country are clearly set, defined and begun to get concrete. Our telecommunication field is fertile, the same thing for international trade through important ports and airports. But the most urgent projects of all, as mentioned previously, are tourism and agriculture which constitute the main pillars of our economy. Why then delay launching the project of ESP officially?
Morocco has to provide and develop high quality training in the language and communication skills because its economy is dynamic and growing in such a pace which allows it to be at the center of the business world interest. It could easily be a substitute to the former Hong Kong market. Its geo-strategic situation as a bridge between Africa (a growing economy) and Europe (a developed economy) has a lot to do with the progress and fluorescence of the networked business. Tangiers is going ahead in this direction.
The problem is that we still don't conceive the real importance of the opportunity that we are hesitating to seize. We still consider English as a foreign language despite the fact that it is at home everywhere in the modern world. It is thanks to it that the Asian economies, for instance, emerged. In Morocco, however, we still rely on French as the only language available to grasp science and technology whereas France, ironically, is developing an ESP strategy to find itself a place in the world wide market. We can even talk about a sort of a French English or better an English of a French nationality thanks to the French scientists who contributed a lot to development and evolvement of some scientific facets.
Well, a French or a German or a Japanese or whoever scientist who uses English in the sphere of scientific communication is not obliged to take native speakers for standard to weigh or test his/her spelling or pronunciation accuracy. Whatever nationality the scientist is, the English she or he uses is simply a different one referred to as scientific English; which is the International Language.
Many other disciplinary factors may interfere to enrich the lexical repertoire of this international English. Each new discovery can contribute to the jargon of English be it scientific, financial, business, or tourism one. Couscous, Tajin, Meshwi, pastille and Mint Tea... are English words of Moroccan origin. Hence, they are part of the English specialized vocabulary repertoire despite their nationality. This doesn't mean that the internationalization of English will negatively affect the native classical English accuracy. On the contrary, the use of these imported words, for instance, into English will be limited and constrained in communicating "the Moroccan Cuisine" as it is the case here. The specification of some Englishes is a healthy sign. They simply show that, scientifically speaking, "And the world will be one". (Imagine, John Lennon). The scientific English, let's state it differently, enfold many languages because all scientists, including those working in USA or Britain, are not only American or British.
In brief, speakers of other languages participate in the enrichment and diversification of the English language used for specific purposes. There are in English words and terms which are more German, Russian or Indian than English. Why not some typical Moroccan terms?!
Because it has become one of the most prominent methods of EFL teaching for more than 40 years now, ESP is no longer confined in scientific and technological fields of study. It gradually includes other specialties that were until recently dealt with through General English (G.E). Nowadays, ESP could be defined as an approach used in teaching English for any purpose that could be specified. But this definition is not widely agreed upon as being incomplete. This disagreement stems essentially from the power that ESP is acquiring with time in professional as well as academic classrooms; which may keep the door wide open for more various definitions. Up to now, participants in conferences consecrated to this topic couldn't generally agree on a single and unique definition of ESP. Still, we fortunately can refer to it as the teaching of English used in academic studies or as the teaching of English for vocational or professional purposes. However the complete uniform definition - everybody looks for- is not yet reached because ESP is growing in all directions. It seems that it will be a miracle if an agreed upon definition for ESP is reached soon.
ESP, in its early age, was first known as EST (English for Science and Technology). The pioneers of this teaching approach like: Ewer and Latorre, Swales, Slinker and Trimble were to be considered as revolutionary figures in linguistics. They revolt against traditional linguists who were busy describing the features of language; whereas the problem with language was to make it flexible to be used in all settings communicatively. This new perspective of the language could be seen as the only way to help facing the demands of "a Brave New World": The world, which suddenly emerged with its own challenges on the level of studies especially. Now in its infancy (about 42 years old), ESP is invading many new disciplines such as Business, Law, Art and Design to name but a few. No doubt, ESP becomes a substantial teaching methodology which we cannot ignore its impact on the social and economical levels in the future.
Dudley Evans (1997) who prefers to call ESP "an attitude of mind" gives an extended definition in terms of Absolute and Variable characteristics.
These characteristics are carefully listed to eventually allow a compromising concord in views about the issue. Or to practically solve arguments about what ESP is and what is not. They are actually stated to draw a line between ESP and General English approach to teaching. These characteristics don't seem to help much subdue the problem of giving a complete compromising definition. They were themselves subject to various points of view. All in all, ESP definition is based on knowing the goals of learners at all stages, hence the importance of permanently conducting learners' needs analysis. At this very crucial situation, the perception of the clear distinction between ESP and General English approach is not yet resolved. The evolution of ESP through a continual learner needs analysis will keep us ask the same question again and again, "What is the difference between the ESP and General English approach?". Hutchinson et al. (1987:53). Furthermore, ESP is progressively gaining new areas in EFL teaching, at times under G.E rule. One day, perhaps, there will be no more General English used but only English for Specific Purposes as the widely used approach in all fields of study.
ESP is practically used to teach Science and Technology. It is mainly tailored to fit all disciplines through vigorously prepared and designed programs to improve the students' ability to communicate in English about their specific fields of study. It focuses on using English effectively in specific academic fields such as business, international studies, English linguistics, literature, chemistry, biochemistry, physical education, and so on. It is getting clearer now that nothing is arduous or tough for ESP to tackle and modulate even those specialties which don't require more than two-week training period. ESP is proven to be so open to all learning purposes and able to use the suitable pedagogical style, appropriate materials and course design for each discipline and field of study more effectively. ESP is considerably practical because it meets the individual needs and goals of either preparing for an exam, (e.g. TOEFL), or academic studies. In brief this teaching methodology is so powerful that all classrooms can gain profit from it...
Why don't we try ESP in teaching Tourism and Catering in a non-English speaking country like Morocco? Isn't ESP pertaining primarily to TESOL?!