IATEFL ESP SIG PCE, 2016 – Overview

I’ve just returned from the IATEFL English for Specific Purposes (ESP) Special Interest Group (SIG) Pre-Conference Event (PCE) in Birmingham, UK.

The theme of the PCE was tensions and debates in ESP and EAP.

As usual it was a very interesting day with teachers from many parts of the world discussing how they go about trying to meet the academic and professional linguistic needs of their students, sometimes with limited resources.

The day was opened by the SIG coordinators, Prithvi Shrestha from the Open University, UK, & Ayşen Güven from the British Council, Ankara, Turkey.


The first tension was: The challenge of meeting expectations

You can’t always get what you want: the offshore EAP programme – risk, friction and rival expectations: Chris Macallister & Tanya Parsons, Durham University, UK

This paper explored one of the main challenges involved in the delivery of an offshore EAP programme: the different, and at times conflicting, expectations of the key stakeholders. The paper took as its case study an offshore EAP course Durham University run in partnership with Qassim University in Saudi Arabia.

Bridging the gap: Identifying the needs and expectations: Gamze Oncul, Middle East Technical University, Northern Cyprus Campus

This presentation discussed a first year EAP course in an English-medium university designed with generic academic writing needs in mind. It was suggested that, although this is usually thought to be the most practical solution to avoid the challenges of catering for department specific writing needs, its practicality does not necessarily guarantee effectiveness, mostly due to the problems caused by the disengagement between disciplinary faculty and EAP instructors and students. An initial needs analysis was presented as a logical step to take to ignite engagement between relevant bodies. This study, aiming to identify academic writing needs and expectations at METU, NCC, illustrated the challenges and efficacy of this kind of process.

Great expectations: Meeting the needs of context-sensitive ESP teaching: Petra Kletzenbauer University of Applied Sciences, FH JOANNEUM University; Andrea Kulmhofer and Alia Moser, University of Graz, Austria.

This talk discussed the fact that ESP teachers at schools and universities have to strictly adhere to a curriculum that more often than not does not match the expectations of future employers. For that reason, the presenters conducted a study looking at teachers’, students’ and employers’ perceptions of their respective needs. In the forum they presented the results and discussed future implications for context-sensitive ESP teaching.

The second tension was: Material production, curriculum evaluation

 Write your own ESAP materials:  Tania Pattison

Tania started her presentation by asking what you do if your students are planning to enter a degree or diploma course in a specific subject, and you can’t find a suitable textbook. Or if you have a book in place, but you would like to bring in some supplementary materials? This talk provided guidance in writing your own materials for ESAP classes.

Examining the effectiveness of EAP Courses: a lexical dimension: Geraint Paul Rees, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona.

This presentation put forward a corpus-based method for evaluating current approaches to vocabulary selection. Using corpus evidence, it concluded that students’ needs would be better served by a multi-word interdisciplinary approach instead of the single-word single-disciple approach currently favoured.

Staging the framework building of an EAP/ESP curriculum optimal evaluation: Paschalis Chliaras, IST College, Athens, Greece

This study examined an alternative approach to building an effective EAP/ESP programme assessment. The procedure involves identifying constraints and students’ needs, deciding how such needs can be met and prioritizing and sequencing the course components. Subsequently, preassessment, as well as formative and summative evaluation through several learning target performance assessment factors are implemented to establish new content and methodological aspects.

Tension 3 was: Moving more towards ESP?

Tensions becoming more ESP: Carmen Denekamp, Qatar University

This paper proposed that curriculum formation for English for Specific Purposes Courses at universities involve multiple tensions because we are dealing with major departments, pressurized students, and a language sensitive society.  It presented problems and solutions as three courses were diplomatically constructed for the majority of Arabic medium students at a Middle Eastern University.  Comparisons were drawn with the English medium stream.

Regulatory framework for ESP course design in the Polish tertiary context: Agnieszka Dudzik, Medical  University of Bialystok & Agnieszka Dzieciol-Pedich, University of Bialystok, Poland.

This presentation started by explaining that foreign language instruction in the Polish tertiary context, to a large extent composed of language courses for specific purposes, is shaped by three main types of documents. The most important document, aimed at outlining specific teaching standards, is developed by the Ministry of  Science and Higher Education.

The aim of the presentation was to analyse ministerial teaching standards, faculty learning outcomes and language syllabi with regard to requirements concerning teaching English for Specific Purposes at Polish institutions of higher education. The talk also analysed the degree to which the  requirements concerning tertiary language teaching described in the above mentioned documents are compatible. Finally, based on examples of Medical English and Business English language courses, the  presenters discussed the implementation of these requirements and their effect on the ESP teaching process.

And finally tension 4: Working with others, perceptions of employers and specialist?

University versus employer expectations of language skills: do they match: Semih İrfaner & Theresa Doguelli, Macmillan Education, Ankara. Turkey

This talk presented the results and conclusions of a survey carried out with  English Language Instructors (ELIs) from a sample of private English-medium universities in Turkey to find out if what ELIs were teaching and testing their students for matched what employers were looking for. Or was there a mismatch?

The day finished with a presentation on English for Shakespearean Purposes by Paschalis Chliaras

One thought on “IATEFL ESP SIG PCE, 2016 – Overview

  1. Without doubt, the above discussed tensions are an area of concern when teaching and learning English in different parts of the world. It is important to note that conventionally, learning English in countries where English is not a native or an official language is not in some cases considered to be of paramount importance.

    Nonetheless, it is the responsibility of those with the mandate to enhance a conducive environment for the learning of English. Availing learning materials as well as competent teachers would go a long way towards improving learning of English. This would require persuasion and negotiation with relevant institutions and authorities to ensure that learning of English is encouraged and supported.

    Consider the case of the Scandinavian countries, where the education sector has made considerable steps including restructuring their curricula to encourage the learning of English. The results are remarkable. With the right approach, the above tensions can be overcome.

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