What English Do I need to Study? : A Comparative Study between English for Special Purpose (ESP) and General English

"If the English language had been properly organized...then there would be a word which meant both 'he' and 'she', and I could write, 'If John or Mary comes heesh will want to play tennis,' which would save a lot of trouble."

A. A. Milne (1882 - 1956)

English for Special Purpose (ESP) and General English have some fundamental differences. This is because people talk differently depending on whom they are talking to and on the circumstances of the conversation. For instance, people who work together in different kinds of jobs have special words for their jobs: lawyers know legal language, doctors know medical terms, and factory workers know the right terms to describe the products they make and the processes used to make them. Such job-related language not only has special purposes, it also identifies the user as somebody who knows the job. For example, someone who cannot use legal language convincingly is probably not a lawyer. Language for particular needs and for identification occurs in connection not only with jobs but also with social groups—groups formed by region, gender, ethnic affiliation, age, or other criteria.

The student needs to learn ESP English, i.e. for occupational or for study purposes. ESP is a term that refers to teaching or studying English for a particular career (like law, medicine) or for business in general. The fact that learners know specifically why they are learning a language is a great advantage on both sides of the process. The learners are therefore motivated, and this enables the teacher to meet learners’ needs and expectations more easily. Learner and the way of learning are considered to be the main factors in the whole process.

Critics (Hutchinson and Waters) emphasize ESP to be an approach and not a product which means language learning not language use is highlighted. They draw attention to a learning centred approach in which a quick and economical use of the English language to pursue a course of academic study (EAP) or effectiveness in paid employment.  ESP is usually delivered to adult students; frequently in a work related setting, that motivation to learn is higher than in usual ESL (English as a Second Language) contexts. Carter believes that self-direction is important in the sense that an ESP is concerned with turning learners into users of the language. Most people around the world learn ESP English as a career opportunity. The worldwide use of ESP English began when world economy created a worldwide job empire. Today, most people who learn English as a foreign language still learn fundamental English but with specific goals. This happens because learning the basic and specific is now a demand. ESP English is taught more and more, however, because of the worldwide success of business and technology. This success also leads speakers of ESL English to adopt many -isms. English has truly become a world language in science and business, and over time it will come to have more of variety.

  ESP is a type of English Language Teaching(ELT) and can be defines   as Goal oriented language learning.    A student has a specific goal and it is going to be attained.  ESP is an approach to language teaching and there is no particular kind of language or methodology or does it consists of a particular type of reading material. It is rather an approach to language learning based on learner’s need.  ESP is centred on particular language function, skills (listening, speaking, writing, and reading); English components (grammar, pronunciation, vocabulary) or activities. 

 Now English for Special Purpose (ESP) can be stressed in the following fields of studies:

(EAP) English for Academic Purposes; English for Business Purposes; (ESAP) English for Specific Academic Purposes; (EGAP) English for General Academic Purposes; (EMP) English for Medical Purposes; (EMFE) English for Management, Finance and Economics; (EOP) English for Occupational Purposes; (EPP) English for Professional Purposes; (EST) English for Science and Technology; (EVP) English for Vocational Purposes; (EWP) English for/in the Workplace; (EFL) English as a Foreign Language; (ELT) English language Teaching; (ESBP) English for Specific Business Purposes Read More Teaching English (TEFL)  

References: 1. Anthony , Laurence. English for Specific Purposes: What does it mean? Why is it different? , http://www.laurenceanthony.net/abstracts/ESParticle.html

2. Johns, Ann M. & Dudley-Evans, Tony (1991). English for Specific Purposes: International in Scope, Specific in Purpose. TESOL Quarterly 25:2, 297-314.