English for specific purposes (ESP) is different from English as second language (ESL) program. Though, both are the same English program, but students of ESP are usually adults who have already learned English. They have learned English in general; but they learn English again for certain professional needs. They learn English in need for certain professional communication. The learning activity are more focused on the context rather than on the grammar or structure in the learning.
Most ESP students more enthusiastic in learning English as they realize the benefit of it. They will get better job. In non-English country, someone who speak English is more appreciated. They can enjoy the learning activity as they learn relevant topic with their professional field. It is not like ESL students who learn English in general, not all topics given in class interesting to them. Most of them do not realize what the advantages of learning English are. It is an opportunity for English instructors to make money. In my country Indonesia, such programs are high demand. The language instructors usually work cooperatively with agents of employee delivery. The students will be sent to other countries to work there with high salary. Who won't be interested in it? High tuition is okay.
In ESP program only certain skills are needed according to the profession the students are preparing for. Speaking skill is more important for tourist guide, etc. However, it doesn’t mean that they don’t have any knowledge or skill on the professional field. To be a tourist guide needs certain skill and knowledge in tourism field. In ESP program students only learn English to be used in the field, they do not learn English and the subject-matter of their professional field at once. When they learn English in ESP program, they have achieved the study of their professional field. English teachers cannot teach the subjects of any professional fields.
One of my ex-student was working on a cruise ship. He told me that in his group at the work place, there are only three people can speak English. All instructions use English. Thus, it is enough just to understand the instructions and a little how to make a dialogue related to the cruise ship. He told me that the one who can speak English is more respected and more appreciated at his work place, and he want to be the one of them. Of course, the salary is better. Some of my friends, who work in other country such as Korea and Taiwan, also learn the language in specific purpose. The program is only three months; and they only can speak in specific context. However, at their work place there is language improvement program to make them able to do more than just listening to certain instructions or have a dialogue in specific context. Foreign language courses who run such program earn more money than conventional foreign language course.
Certain job need really high standard communication skill. It needs longer period to make students achieve it. The ESP program should be special for advanced students with good academical achievement.
After having developed and taught the curriculum for Language Preparation for Employment in the Health Sciences, I have reached the conclusion that there are three abilities necessary for successful communication in a professional target setting. I have added a third skill or ability to Cummins' theory in order to complete the ESP picture.
The first ability required in order to successfully communicate in an occupational setting is the ability to use the particular jargon characteristic of that specific occupational context.
The second is the ability to use a more generalized set of academic skills, such as conducting research and responding to memoranda. With the health science group, this was largely related to understanding a new culture.
The third is the ability to use the language of everyday informal talk to communicate effectively, regardless of occupational context. Examples of this include chatting over coffee with a colleague or responding to an informal email message. (Kristen Gatehouse , The Internet TESL Journal, Vol. VII, No. 10, October 2001)
Teachers of ESL who want to be instructors of English for specific purposes program need to learn the subject related to certain professional field, but do not need to learn like the students did. It is too long. English Teachers need to know how English will be used in the field. What expressions are usually used at work places.
Dudley Evans and St. John (1998) identify five key roles for the ESP practitioner:ESL teachers need more skill and knowledge to teach English for specific purposes. They also need other specialists to work cooperatively: to design the course, to provide materials, etc.
- course designer and materials provider
In a country like Indonesia, which all people can run English or other foreign language course is a good opportunity to earn money. They can rent places, hire English teachers, and work cooperatively with employee delivery agents. Create good concept, then invite investors.