English for Specific Purposes: What is it and where is it taking us?

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English for Specific Purposes (ESP) is teaching with the aim of assisting learners’ study or research in the particular variety of English they may need. It has emerged from over 50 years of research and classroom practice and has become a major influence in university and workplace classrooms in many parts of the world. The basic idea behind ESP is that learners’ needs differ enormously according to future academic or occupational goals, and this is why ESP has become so influential in universities around the world in recent years. There is a growing awareness that students have to take on new roles and engage with knowledge in new ways when they enter university and, eventually the workplace. They find that they need to write and read unfamiliar genres, and that communication practices are not uniform across the subjects they encounter. Simply, the English they learnt at school rarely prepares them for that which they need in Higher Education and in the world of work. In this paper I sketch some of the major ideas and practices that have shaped contemporary ESP and look at the main effects it is having on language teaching

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)202-220
Number of pages19
JournalESP Today
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jun 2022


  • Eap
  • Esp
  • Genre
  • Research
  • Teaching

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