English for specific purposes

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English for specific purposes (ESP) is a sphere of teaching English language including Business English, Technical English, Scientific English, English for medical professionals, English for waiters, English for tourism, English for Art Purposes, etc.[1] Aviation English as ESP is taught to pilots, air traffic controllers and civil aviation cadets who are going to use it in radio communications.[2]

ESP can be also considered as an avatar of language for specific purposes.[3]


Absolute characteristics[edit]

  1. ESP is defined to meet specific needs of the learners (Maslow's hierarchy of needs).
  2. ESP makes use of underlying methodology and activities of the discipline it serves.
  3. ESP is centered on the language appropriate to these activities in terms of grammar, lexis, register, study skills, discourse and genre.

Variable characteristics[edit]

Strevens' (1988) ESP may be, but is not necessarily:

  1. restricted as to the language skills to be learned (e.g. reading only);
  2. not taught according to any pre-ordained methodology (pp. 1–2)

Dudley-Evans & St John(1998)

  1. ESP may be related to or designed for specific disciplines;
  2. ESP may use, in specific teaching situations, a different methodology from that of general English;
  3. ESP is likely to be designed for adult learners, either at a tertiary level institution or in a professional work situation. It could, however, be for learners at secondary school level;
  4. ESP is generally designed for intermediate or advanced students;
  5. Most ESP courses assume some basic knowledge of the language system, but it can be used with beginners (pp. 4–5)


ESP is taught in many universities of the world. Many professional associations of teachers of English (TESOL, IATEFL) have ESP sections. Much attention is devoted to ESP course design.[4][5] ESP teaching has much in common with English as a Foreign or Second Language and English for Academic Purposes (EAP). Quickly developing Business English can be considered as part of a larger concept of English for Specific Purposes.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Esp-world.info
  2. ^ Avia.ru
  3. ^ Antlab.sci.waseda.ac.jp, Dudley-Evans, 1997
  4. ^ Asian ESP Journal - April 2007
  5. ^ ITESLJ


External links[edit]



  • Esp-world.info, Hewings, M. 2002. A history of ESP through 'English for Specific Purposes'.
  • Iteslj.org, Kristen Gatehouse. Key Issues in English for Specific Purposes (ESP) Curriculum Development. The Internet TESL Journal.
  • Antlab.sci.waseda.ac.jp, Laurence Anthony. English for Specific Purposes: What does it mean? Why is it different?