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History, Growth, and Development Phases of ESP

History, Growth, and Development Phases of ESP

History and Growth of ESP
Over the past 40 years ESP has grown up fast and become one of the important approaches in English language teaching.  In the beginning 1960s when ESP is started, the way English teacher view the field of ESP today is far different than the way they viewed it in the 1960s. In the 1960s ESP practitioners believed their main job was to teach the technical vocabulary of a given field or profession. If they were teaching nursing students, their task was to teach the learners the medical vocabulary of nursing. Later, teachers of ESP began to recognize the importance of sub-technical vocabulary, that is, the words and phrases that surround the technical words.
In 1970s, Hutchinson and Waters first introduced the idea of learning English through content of a subject (e.g. Economics or management). By the 1980s, in many parts of the world, a needs-based philosophy appeared in language teaching. Many students learnt ESP not because they were merely willing to know English but rather to do a task in English. There then emerged some specific disciplines: English for Law, English for Hotel Industry, English for Tourist Management, English for Marketing, and English for Banking.
Krashen in 1981 came up with “natural language acquisition idea” which then supports the ESP approach. It is said that the best way in learning a language is to use it for meaningful aims. In response to the meaningful aims in learning English, various application of ESP have appeared: EAP (English for Academic Purpose), CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning), CBI (Content-based Instruction), and TBL (Task-based Learning).
CLIL is an approach for learning content through an additional language (foreign or second), thus teaching both the subject and the language. Many experts considered CLIL a great way in learning English which give the learners with meaningful input and authentic suggested.
CBI, another application, is designed to provide second-language learners instruction in the use of subject matter as a vehicle for second or foreign language teaching/learning (content) and language.
The next application of ESP is TBL also knwn Task-based language learning (TBLL) or task-based language teaching (TBLT) focuses on the use of authentic language and on asking students to do meaningful tasks using the target language. Such tasks can include visiting a doctor, conducting an interview, or calling customer service for help. Assessment is primarily based on task outcome (in other words the appropriate completion of tasks) rather than on accuracy of language forms. This makes TBLL especially popular for developing target language fluency and student confidence.

Hutchinson and Waters (1987:9) state that the early beginnings of E.S.P. start in the 1960s and that this domain of theory and practice in the undergone five phases. 
1.   Register analysis
In the register analysis phase the language teachers’ aim at the time was to identify lexical and grammatical features of these registers.  The teaching materials focused on these linguistic features which represented the syllabus. Now that a first stage in the exploration of English has reached its terminal point, namely the study of the word structure down to its smallest lexical component, the E.S.P. teachers decide it is time to move on to a new linguistic level, the sentence.
The criticisms against register analysis were:
·         It restricts the analysis of text to the word and sentence level
·         It is only descriptive, not explanatory
·         Most materials produced under the banner of register analysis follow a similar pattern, beginning with a long specialist reading passage which lacks authenticity.

2.   Rhetorical and discourse analysis
The 1980s recorded a step ahead in the approach to ESP, with Louis Trimble’s (1985) EST: A Discourse Approach, CUP. 
The priorities, for this decade, mean: 
·         understanding how sentences were combined in discourse to produce meaning
·         To identify the organizational patterns in texts
·         To specify the linguistic means by which these patterns are signaled. All these patterns represented the syllabus.

3.   Target situation analysis
The target situation analysis is also known as the learner-centered approach. In this phase, ESP was based on the reasons why student learnt English. The purpose of an E.S.P. course focused on target situation analysis is:
·         to enable learners to function adequately in a target situation, that is the situation in which the learners will use the language they are learning
·         to identify the target situation 
·         to carry out a rigorous analysis of its linguistic features
4.   Analysis of study skills and strategies
The principal idea behind the skills-centered approach is that underlying all language use. There are common reasoning and interpreting processes which enable learners to extract meaning from discourse.
The focus should be on the underlying interpretive strategies which enable learners to cope with the surface forms:
·         guessing the meaning of words form context;
·         using visual layout to determine the type of text;
·         exploiting cognates (i.e., words which ar e similar in the mother tongue and the target   language)
This approach generally concentrates on reading and listening strategies, the characteristic exercises get the learners to reflect on and analyze how meaning is produced in and retrieved from written or spoken discourse.

5.   Analysis of learning needs (a learning-centered approach)
This is the next stage of ESP development: the learning-centered approach. It involves considering the process of learning and student motivation, working out what is needed to enable students to reach the target, exploiting in the EOP/EAP classroom skills which students develop from their specific academic study and taking into account the fact that different students learn in different ways.

Muhammad Ahkam Arifin
Muhammad Ahkam Arifin Muhammad Ahkam Arifin is a Fulbright PhD student at Washington State University, US. He earned a master`s degree in TESOL from the University of Edinburgh & Applied Linguistics from the University of Melbourne.

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