The 6 principles for exemplary teaching of English learners:  Academic and other specific purposes.

The 6 principles for exemplary teaching of English learners:  Academic and other specific purposes. TESOL International Association (2020),

TESOL International Association have recently published 2 more books of interest to ESP teachers in their 6 principles for exemplary teaching of English learners series. The third book in the series focusses on teaching English for academic and other specific purposes.

The book consists of a preface and 5 chapters.

The preface introduces the 6 principles of exemplary teaching on which the series is based and describes the intended audience for the series. The 6 principles provide a solid foundation for any ESP programme, and, though they need a some localised refinement for the wide diversity of ESP contexts, they are an excellent source of
reflection on current teaching practice.

The 6 principles provide a basis for decision making, planning and teaching. They are:

  1. Know your learners,
  2. Create conditions for language learning,
  3. Design high-quality lessons for language development,
  4. Adapt lesson delivery as needed,
  5. Monitor and assess student language development,
  6. Engage and collaborate within a community of practice.

The first volume in the series addresses teaching for English learners in K-12 schools in the United States of America. The second volume focuses on teaching English in adult education and workforce development programs.

This – the third – volume applies the same principles to teaching English for academic and other specific purposes in a range of international contexts.

The intended audience for this book includes:

  • Teachers and trainers working in a range of contexts such as
    • Higher education institutions, including intensive English programmes and  community colleges
    • Work-related professional courses and programmes, such as English for engineers, English for aviation, or English for legal professionals.
    • Private language institutions
    • Adult education programmes
    • Workplace language training programmes
  • Teachers working in language support classes
  • Teachers of preparation courses for tests such as IELTS or TOEFL
  • TESOL trainers
  • Consultants working with education or other institutions such as corporations or government ministries

The secondary audience is

  • Administrators of ESP courses and programmes
  • Language mentors for specific purposes
  • Administrative staff on ESP-related courses and programs
  • Institutional leaders in academic programs and private language centres
  • Materials writers for ESP courses and programs
  • Curriculum developers
  • Directors of Studies in language schools
  • Counsellors and learning skills specialists
  • Training managers and human resource managers

The five main chapters are:

Chapter 1: Teaching English for Specific Purposes with the 6 Principles.

Chapter 2: What Teachers Should Know about English Language Development to Plan Instruction.

Chapter 3: Teaching with the 6 Principles for Academic and Other Specific Purposes

Chapter 4: Establishing a Culture of Shared Responsibility.

Chapter 5: The 6 Principles in Different Program Contexts

Chapter 1 opens by presenting a teacher in a private language school in Argentina. It then introduces the basic principles behind EAP and other types of ESP. It first defines ESP, before moving on to discussing types of ESP courses – EAP, EPP & EOP. The next section looks at key factors in teaching ESP:  needs analysis, the importance of vocabulary, various methodologies used, the relevant genres in the field. Typical student profiles are then analysed, suggesting what most students need or require from an ESP course. The chapter ends with an outline of the 6 principles for exemplary teaching, before asking the reader to reflect on how the Argentinian teacher presented at the beginning makes use of the 6 principles to plan and teach her course.

Chapter 2 discusses the main principles behind second language learning. First, it describes what adults bring to the classroom, drawing on the research on adult learners in general, but also making specific reference to English for academic purposes (EAP), English for professional purposes (EPP), and English for occupational purposes (EOP) instruction. The chapter then looks at how ESP learners learn, and characteristics of the English language in ESP contexts.  The chapter finishes by looking at English language proficiency and the importance of identity.

Chapter 3 focusses on teaching with the 6 principles. Every principle starts with a classroom setting. Chapter 3 starts with the 1st principle; getting to know your learners. It provides some insight into the different tools and resources that teachers can use in order to find out about the learners. The chapter continues with the 2nd principle of creating conditions for language learning. It includes several examples of activities to make the classroom more supporting with hands-on activities that the teacher can use. The 3rd principle – design high quality lessons for language development – follows with good examples and activities for preparing lessons with clear objectives at appropriate levels, enhancing input with a range of approaches, use of authentic language and materials that is relevant and meaningful, as well as promoting the use of learning strategies and critical thinking. Principle 4 addresses the importance of adopting teaching methods and materials as needed. In order to do this, teachers need to check comprehension frequently and adjust their teaching accordingly. The 5th principle – monitor and assess student language development – is then addressed, with good examples and activities given for feeding back on learner errors,  both formatively and summatively. assess learner language development. And finally the 6th principle – engage and collaborate with the a community of practice – is dealt with. Suggestions include being fully engaged in the profession by reading journals and attending conferences as well as team teaching.

Chapter 4 addresses the importance of establishing a culture of shared responsibility, something which all ESP teachers are, or need to be,  familiar with.

Finally, chapter 5 revisits the 6 principles and analyses them in different contexts, settings, programs, classroom and finally countries. It starts with an exam preparation class for the TOEFL test in USA, and continues with an academic course at a German University. an MBA business English class in India, sales engineers in Mexico and caregivers in Indonesia.

The appendix includes self-assessment, a glossary and useful references.

Overall, it is a useful little book for people starting with ESP. It particularly stresses the importance of knowing the learners, their situations and their needs. It could also provide guidance and inspiration for more experienced ESP teachers.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *