New Ways in English for Specific Purposes is the second volume that Peter Master and Donna Brinton have edited in TESOL's New Ways series, the other being New Ways in Content-Based Instruction (Brinton & Master, 1997). After the birth of English for specific purposes (ESP) in the 1960s, this discipline has become quite well known, especially because English has acquired the status of an international lingua franca in almost any field of study, and linguists have moved toward a contextualized notion of language…
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The first studies on special languages were in fact those on register, which developed in a Firthian environment. Following strictly in Halliday's footsteps (Halliday, 1978), British linguists identified special registers on the basis of lexical aspects, which they considered sufficient in themselves to distinguish them from common language. For example, the presence of a lexical item such as tablespoonful was enough to presume that the register was that of recipes or prescriptions (Halliday, McIntosh & Strevens, 1964; Strevens, 1977). However, as recent approaches to special languages have pointed out, differences do not apply to the lexical level only, but also concern morph syntactic choices and textual and pragmatic organization (Swales, 1990; Gotti, 1991; Bhatia, 1993). The social context (and therefore the aim) of each of the subdivisions of ESP exerts a strong influence on the linguistic strategies which are to be adopted. Therefore situational and functional requirements direct linguistic choices such as lexical density, the complexity and the length of clause structure, the degree of formality and the management of information, to name but a few.
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cate a set of professional skills and to perform English and are learning the language in order to communicate a set of professional skills and to perform particular job-related functions. An ESP program is therefore built on an assessment of purposes and needs and the functions for which English is required.
ESP concentrates more on language in context than on teaching grammar and language structures. It covers subjects varying from accounting or computer science to tourism and business management. The ESP focal point is that English is not taught as a subject separated from the students' real world (or wishes); instead, it is integrated into a subject matter area important to the learners.
However, ESL and ESP diverge not only in the nature of the learner, but also in the aim of instruction. In fact, as a general rule, while in ESL all four language skills; listening, reading, speaking, and writing, are stressed equally, in ESP it is a needs analysis that determines which language skills are most needed by the students, and the syllabus is designed accordingly. An ESP program, might, for example, emphasize the development of reading skills in students who are preparing for graduate work in business administration; or it might promote the development of spoken skills in students who are studying English in order to become tourist guides.
As a matter of fact, ESP combines subject matter and English language teaching. Such a combination is highly motivating because students are able to apply what they learn in their English classes to their main field of study, whether it be accounting, business management, economics, computer science or tourism. Being able to use the vocabulary and structures that they learn in a meaningful context reinforces what is taught and
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