Business English and the Teaching of Productive Skills in Morocco

Master's Thesis, 2011

107 Pages


Table of contents

General Introduction

I.0 Introduction
I.1 ESP: Preliminaries
I.1.1 Definitions
I.1.2 ESP Development
2. Beyond the sentence: rhetorical or discourse analysis
4. Skills and strategies
5. A learningcentered approach
I.1.3 ESP: Categories and Subcategories
I.1.3.1 Main Categories
I.1.3.2 Business English
I.1.4 Speaking versus Writing
I.1.4.1 Differences between speaking and writing
I.1.5 The ESP Teacher
I.2 Approaches and Types of Language Syllabi
I.2.1 Communicative Approach
I.2.2 A learningcentered Approach
I.2.3 Structural Syllabus
I.2.4 Functionalnotional Syllabus
I.2.5 Conclusion

II.1 Introduction
II.2 Description of target population
II.3 Classroom Observation
II.4 The Research Instrument
II.4.1 Advantages of the Questionnaire
II.4.2 The Questionnaire
II.2: Data Classification and Analysis
II.2.1 The informants
II.2.1.1 Background information
II.2.3 Needs and purpose
II.2.4 Deficiency needs
III. General Conclusion

IV. Bibliography

V. Appendix


I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to many helpful people whose contribution in the accomplishment of this research project has been highly significant.

Professor Youssef Hdouch has been incessantly supervising my paper since its embryonic stage. I would like to thank him very much for the meticulous readings of my questionnaire. His illuminating remarks, insightful guidance, and scholarly advice have been of great importance. I truthfully owe him much for sending me to the ENCG from which I collected the research data. He has been so encouraging and helpful during the distribution of questionnaires. He kindly introduced me to his students, which made interactivity possible and constructive.

Mr. Jellali Sellam played a pivotal role in this research project. He kindly allowed me to attend a few classes with different levels. He has been so kind, sharing, approachable, and helpful. I have learnt much from him during classroom observation. I really appreciate his encouragement, advice, and helpfulness when distributing questionnaires to his students.

I am similarly indebted to Caitlin Pratt. I have been amazingly fortunate to have this American graduate student read, comment, and edit my research paper. Her editing has been encouraging the use of correct grammar and words, along with consistent notation in my writing. She has also been so prompt in her replies to my emails and curious to see the final production.

I would like also to acknowledge the help of my eldest sister, Hanane, who generously provided me with relevant and invaluable books from the American Peace Corps library. Her financial support has been so crucial throughout this research project. Special thanks are due to my sister, Nawal, for helping me with graphics.

Finally, I would like to thank all the ENCG students who enthusiastically participated in filling out the questionnaires.


To my parents, who, for my higher education, have been through the thick and thin. I wholeheartedly hope to reward them someday.

General Introduction

The objective of the present paper is to investigate problems concerned with the teaching of productive skills in Business English classes. Productive skills refer to speaking and writing. Business English is a branch of English for Specific Purposes (henceforth ESP). This branch of Teaching English as a Foreign Language has been dealt with in many works (Widdowson, 1978; Hutchinson and Waters, 1987, etc.). In Arab countries authors like Ennaji, Ouakrime, Zughoul and Zaki (1997) have tried to explore different issues, for example, the ESP teaching in the private and public sectors, perceptions and reality of ESP, and the start of ESP teaching in Arab universities. However, many questions remain unanswered. Therefore, this research project aims to investigate the attitudes and perceptions of the Ecole Nationale de Commerce et de Gestion (henceforth ENCG) students about the productive skills in the ESP course, as well as to figure out whether the ENCG students are fully aware of the significance of productive skills in their prospective professional communication.

The importance of this research topic hinges on two main reasons. First, it has become quite noticeable in various Moroccan higher education institutes that ESP courses are increasingly required by students. These ESP courses are meant, indeed, to meet specific needs of learners. In fact, they consolidate students‟ capacities and enhance their skills, so that they can measure up to the expectations of their prospective bosses. Second, productive skills are undeniably of paramount importance in ESP courses. The evidence in support of this claim is that a great number of ESP learners feel insecure when their writing skill is called upon. To make matters worse, writing is a mandatory component of their course. Besides, writing demands specific conventions to be followed and certain techniques to be mastered and applied to surmount composition problems in order to communicate intelligibly and meaningfully. In the realm of Business English, to be a good business writer is to be clearly understood, that is, to express, not to impress, which in fact poses an intellectual burden for the learner-writer.

On the other hand, speaking is a skill that equally requires a particular training through class presentations, dialogues, language table discussions, conferences, and workshops. It is, indeed, much more onerous to get learners express themselves freely than it is to receive correct answers in a controlled exercise. Furthermore, in the world of business, verbal communication has to be clear and straightforward; so business English learners need to receive effective instruction to ameliorate their speaking skill through the intensive and constant use of English inside and outside the educational institution. Given the aforementioned reasons, the teaching of productive skills will form the crux of this research and will be addressed at length in subsequent chapters.

This paper strives to answer the following questions: What are the general features which appear to characterize the teaching of oral skills in the ESP course? Does writing in the ESP course enable students to become good English business writers? And to what extent do speaking and writing prepare ESP students for professional communication?

To respond to the above-mentioned research questions, the present paper will be split up into three chapters. The first one will review ESP literature relevant to productive skills, teaching approaches and types of syllabi. In the same vein, it will present a variety of definitions that have to do with ESP and its development, providing a brief synopsis of Business English, recognizing the ESP teacher‟s roles, and eventually addressing teaching approaches and types of language syllabi. The second chapter will be devoted to describing the target Business English population, classroom observation, and the instrument used for gathering data. It will also classify, analyze and discuss the main findings of the study.


I.0 Introduction

The present chapter will briefly review the literature related to the central issues of ESP-namely productive skills, teaching approaches, and types of syllabi. It is split into two main sections. The first section presents a variety of definitions that have to do with ESP and its development, acquainting unfamiliar readers with background information about Business English, and finally recognizing the roles performed by the ESP teacher. In the same vein, it centers exclusively on productive skills-namely speaking and writing. The second section is devoted to addressing Communicative and Learning-centered approaches, as well as structural and functional-notional syllabi.

I.1 ESP: Preliminaries

I.1.1 Definitions

A preliminary review of the literature reveals that English for Specific Purposes (ESP) has been repeatedly studied and thus variously defined, and up to now there still has been no unanimous and clear-cut definition for ESP.

To begin with, Dudley-Evans and St. John (1998: 4) claim that “ESP teaching does not necessarily have to be related to content, but it should always reflect the underlying concepts and activities of the broad discipline.” This clarifies that it does not matter whether ESP is directly related to the specific disciplines students study or not. However, it should mirror an authentic business context. The methodology used in ESP teaching should also reflect the disciplines and professions it serves.

On the contrary, Strevens (1988: 1-2) is in opposition with the aforementioned authors. He claims that “ESP is always related to subject content.” He wants to say that there should be specific topics, specific vocabulary, and specific language skills directly related to subject content. There should also be a strong attachment between the teaching of ESP and its subject content. The types of activities conducted and materials taught in class should reflect an appropriate and authentic business environment in order to enable students to deal efficiently with any given business situations. Dudley-Evans and St. John (1998: 4-5) modified Stevens‟ definition of ESP by presenting two key types of characteristics:

1) Absolute characteristics

a) ESP is designed to meet specific needs of the learner.
b) ESP makes use of the underlying methodology and activities of the disciplines it serves.
c) ESP is centered on the language (grammar, lexis, and register), skills, discourse and genres appropriate to these activities.

2) Variable characteristics

a) ESP may be related to or designed for specific disciplines.
b) ESP may use, in specific teaching situations, a different methodology from that of general English.
c) ESP is likely to be designed for adult learners, either at a tertiary level institution or in a professional work situation. It could, however, be used for learners at secondary school level.
d) ESP is generally designed for intermediate or advanced students. Most ESP courses assume basic knowledge of the language system, but it can be used with beginners.

According to Hutchinson and Waters (1987), “ESP is an approach to language teaching in which all decisions as to content and method are based on the learner‟s reason for learning.” It can be deduced that both authors consider needs analysis to be the most distinctive feature of ESP, and thus learners‟ reasons for studying ESP must be entirely taken into consideration in the process of course design. In the same manner, Robinson‟s definition seems to be in total agreement with Hutchinson and Waters‟ since she stresses that ESP courses must be both purposeful and fundamentally grounded on a needs analysis which aims at meeting specific needs of the learner. Her main criteria are that “ESP is normally goal-directed and that ESP courses develop from a needs analysis, which aims to specify as closely as possible what exactly it is that students have to do through the medium of English” (Robinson, 1991: 3).

In the same context, Mackay and Mountford (1978:2) define ESP as “The teaching of English for clearly utilitarian purposes.” This denotes that the purpose of learning is determined by the needs of learners which might be academic, occupational, vocational, or scientific. An ESP program is therefore designed to assess purposes and needs as well as the functions for which English is used.

All in all, it should be made clear now that almost all ESP definitions are centered on three chief criteria. These criteria are the learner‟s needs and purposes, the nature of language, and the teaching environment, including authenticity of materials and activities.

I.1.2 ESP Development

There is no doubt that the emergence of English for Specific Purposes (ESP) since the early 1960‟s has genuinely been an attractive destination and promising career for a plethora of practitioners in the field of TEFL. The value, interest, and need for ESP have been mushrooming since English became the Lingua Franca for science and technology. Likewise, industrialization, globalization, and the mounting growth of business have unequivocally made English the vehicle of international communication. At this early phase, it should be noted that the development of ESP has been going through a series of stages. These stages have been drastically different in both theory and practice, yet they have been language-centered approaches. They all have been influenced by linguistics (grammar). Additionally, ESP has been chiefly concerned with the full preparation of learners to communicate creatively, purposefully, and professionally. Most importantly, Hutchinson and Waters (1987:6-7-8) highlight the salient factors that breathed life into ESP:

3) Factors behind the birth of ESP

a) The demands of a brave new world
b) Development in the field of linguistics
c) Focus on the learner

The development of ESP has gone through five stages which are briefly outlined below:

1. The concept of special language: register analysis

The first stage of development dates back to 1960s and early 1970s and emerges, particularly thanks to the work of Peter Strevens (Halliday, McIntosh and Strevens, 1964), Jack Ewer (Ewer and Latorre, 1969) and John Swales (1971). It revolves mainly around the assumption that each science, electrical engineering or biology, establishes its own specific register. The purpose behind analysis is to recognize the grammatical and lexical features of each register. Yet, register analysis does not bring to light any forms that do not exist in General English. In fact, it aims at designing a syllabus that prioritizes language forms which students will use in their Science studies. It is revealed that school textbooks discard some of the language forms that are usually found in Science texts, for instance, compound nouns, passives, conditionals, and modals. Hutchinson and Waters (1987) provide one of the oldest examples of ESP materials, namely a “book of phrases for tourists” that was published in 1576. Strevens (1977) also provides an old Specific Purpose Language Teaching (SPLT) in the course-type “German for Science Students.” Swales (1988) claims that Barber‟s book (1962) on grammatical and lexical features of modern scientific prose as “the real beginning” of ESP.

2. Beyond the sentence: rhetorical or discourse analysis

The leading figures of the second stage are Lackstorm and Todd-Trimble (1973), Widdowson (1974), Trimble (1985). This stage went through two phases. The first one is fundamentally preoccupied with the study of language at the sentence level while the second one shifts the attention to the level above the sentence. That is, ESP becomes more concerned with discourse or rhetorical analysis. In other words, the attention is paid to assimilating how sentences are connected in discourse to generate meaning. At this stage, a clear difference is made between rhetorical structure of science and commercial texts.

3. Target situation analysis

The third stage does not actually add much to the range of knowledge about ESP. It seeks to set the existing knowledge on a more scientific ground. It is made clear that the ESP course design process should give top priority to identifying the target situation and then scrutinizing the linguistic features of that situation. This process is called needs analysis which aims at meeting specific needs of learners. Since then, needs analysis has become the core of any ESP course design process.

4. Skills and strategies

The skill-centered approach focuses on the development of skills and strategies that learners need to acquire in a second language in order to be able to get meaning from discourse. Hence, the importance is given to the underlying interpretive strategies, a fact which enables students to handle easily the surface forms. Examples of this would be guessing the meaning of words from context, using visual layout to determine the type of text, exploiting cognates, etc. It should be noted that this approach heavily relies on either reading or listening strategies.

5. A learning-centered approach

The above outlined stages have all been flawed because they have been too much concerned with describing language use rather than language learning. A learning-centered approach came as a reaction to rectify and vitalize the way language should be taught. It focuses no more on grammar or reading in books or dictionaries to learn a language. Instead, it focuses on comprehending the processes of language learning. This approach is explained in detail in the section of approaches.

I.1.3 ESP: Categories and Sub-categories

ESP is an umbrella term that englobes many categories and subcategories. At this stage, it should be pointed out that Business English is one of the salient branches of ESP, which will be addressed in the subsequent section.

I.1.3.1 Main Categories

Johns (1991) provides a worldwide model for ESP instruction.

Categories of English for Specific Purposes

illustration not visible in this excerpt

The diagram above shows that ESP is an umbrella term with two central categories. The first is English for Occupational Purposes (EOP), which incorporates English that is closely related to both professional and vocational purposes. The second is English for Academic Purposes (EAP), which is in its own turn split up into three main sub-categories: 1) English for Specific Topics, 2) English for Business and Economics, and finally 3) English for Social Studies. Essentially, English for Business and Economics has been the forefront of ESP. This is due to the increasing need of students in most parts of the world for finance, management, marketing, accounting, and banking.

In short, ESP is specialty-oriented. Its pivotal point is that English should not be taught as a subject separated from the students‟ real world needs. Instead, it must be integrated into a subject-matter area important and close to the learner.

I.1.3.2 Business English

Business English is a part of English for Specific Purposes. In fact, Ellis and Johnson (1994, 3) argue that “business English must be seen in the overall context of English for Specific Purposes (ESP), as it shares the important elements of needs analysis, syllabus design, course design, and materials selection and development which are common to all fields of work in ESP.” This means that Business English places needs analysis at the centre of course design process to define the learner‟s needs and objectives, as well as the type of language to be used in classroom activities. As with any discipline, the development of Business English has gradually passed through a variety of approaches. These approaches have been strikingly complementary to each other.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Business English textbooks predominantly present vocabulary items in written texts or dialogues related to specific topics. In terms of exercises, they are exclusively focused on reading comprehension, defining subject-specific words, and forming sentence structure. This introductory approach is based on the assumption that the learner has already studied the language, and hence he/she is given no room for applying the language in real-life settings. Besides, no attention is paid to interactive or communicative activities and written correspondence.

Given that focus is on reading, research has shown that this skill alone cannot prepare students to become effective communicators in the business world. For this reason, the interest of researchers has been geared towards developing communicative skills (listening, speaking, reading and writing) within business contexts. The listening skill entails activities like drills, dialogue practice, and role simulation. Yet again, the proponents of this approach wrongly assume that the learner already knows the basics of English grammar.

In the mid 1970s and 1980s, the attention of Business English shifts to functional areas. Examples would include giving opinions, showing agreement, etc. Ellis and Johnson add that “an example of a functionally-orientated course book for Business English is Functioning Business by Knowles and Bailey (Longman 1987)”. This course book presents listening activities: making appointments, conforming plans introductions, etc.

In the late 1980s, Business English becomes highly remarkable since it studies all features of the existing approaches and prioritizes the development of the learner‟s skills necessary for using the language acquired. The 1980s were a real beginning for the publication of business books and materials. Employees were for the first time allowed to attend courses for the sake of enabling them to become more proficient and productive while performing their tasks.

It is important to understand that in the world of business, messages have to be sent with minimum risk of misunderstanding. One should be concrete, clear, objective, and specific. Business writers favor short sentences and paragraphs, as well as simple words. Social contacts have to be short and polite. Oftentimes, they are ritualized, using formulaic language. Sense of purpose is a crucial criterion of communication in business because the goal is to “express, not to impress”.

I.1.4 Speaking versus Writing

The four learning skills, listening, reading, speaking and writing, play an influential role in the enhancement of any language program. They help learners convey their thoughts and opinions verbally and non-verbally. Learners receive language instruction through listening and reading. Yet, the teaching of productive skills is more essential than receptive skills in any business course, for they better enable students to become professionally productive and efficient communicators. Indeed, they are tailored to reinforce students‟ ability to communicate in both oral and written forms, as well as to help them become more productive when joining the job market. One should know that students‟ motivation and performance in productive skills are immensely premised upon the interest and enjoyment generated by the activities conducted in the classroom.

Speaking and writing are both communication skills that are important in all subject areas in the educational curriculum. Likewise, they are two primordial channels through which normal human beings communicate. They are also governed by the rules of semantics and syntax.

Speaking has received increasing interest in language studies and foreign language research. This is because speaking has always been a significant and vivid feature of human community and a necessary aspect of daily activity. Some definitions of speaking stipulate that speaking is a social act which demands the presence of an audience and a situational context (Milory and Milory 1999:54).

For Brown (1994) and Burn and Joyce (1997), “Speaking is an interactive process of constructing meaning that involves producing and receiving and processing information.” This means that speaking is more than the production of meaningful sounds. It is an intricate process which incorporates various intertwined operations. Similarly, McDonough and Shaw (1993: 152-153) state that “In verbal interactions, speakers are productive and that in speaking a process of reciprocal exchange occurs between speakers and interlocutors.” This clearly suggests that speakers are being productive when they are involved in any given verbal communication, which demands the presence of both speaker and listener. From this perspective, Harmer (2001) says that “speakers need to structure their discourse if they want to be understood, especially in more „writing-like‟ speech such as giving presentations.”

With hindsight, clarity and organization are two key criteria for producing an intelligible and meaningful speech. The majority of language learners perceive the ability to speak fluently as a primary criterion for the measurement of their communicative competence in its totality, including grammatical, sociolinguistic, discourse, and strategic competences. Teachers also see speaking as a major activity in their classrooms, for it spurs students to express their thoughts and opinions, as well as show their understanding of what is being explained, discussed or presented in class.

Rivers (1981) also studied language use outside the classroom context and found that speaking is used twice as much as reading and writing combined. Importantly, the speaker makes use of a variety of non-linguistic elements such as facial expressions, eye contact, and voice quality. These are paramount factors that impact the interlocutor and enhance the speaker‟s verbal message. They can also create rhetorical effects such as irony, sarcasm, or admiration (Ennaji and Sadiqi 1994).

Brown and Yule (1983a) show that oral production is primarily characterized by several traits:


a) The use of incomplete sentences.
b) The presence of very little subordination.
c) The presence of very few passives.
d) The absence of many logical connectors.
e) Repetition of the same syntactic form.
f) The frequent use of pauses and fillers.

Speaking in ESP courses is highly demanding. One has to be clear, straightforward, and efficient. The reason for this is that it requires regular practice, preparation, and patience of the learner. This includes dialogues, role plays, scenarios, and oral presentations. In these speaking activities, a group of students can be nominated to play the role of demonstrators observing fluency, elocution, etc. Swales (1991) and Bhatia (1994) claim that learners should be taught the mechanisms and structure of oral presentation, focusing on the introduction and the conclusion. Furthermore, speaking can motivate students to take part in classroom activities, and as such students‟ speaking mistakes can be corrected by their teacher.

Writing is the embodiment of language in a textual medium through the use of numerous signs or symbols (known as a writing system). Writing should be viewed as a mechanical process whereby several criteria are observed such as organization, coherence, cohesion, linguistic variables, purpose, and audience. Viewed this way, writing is a strategic, orderly, and key skill of communication. In fact, writing is a purposeful and powerful social act that encompasses note-taking, outlining, drafting, and editing. We basically write to communicate with a particular audience. Nevertheless, writing in English has always been regarded by a large number of Moroccan students as “la bête noire” of the curriculum because the latter have not received enough practice. Also, writing cannot be improved overnight. It is a long life process which requires continual practice and extensive reading.

According to Harmer (2001), “writing has to be both coherent and cohesive.” Coherent writing is graspable because you can follow the sequence of ideas and points. Cohesion is a more technical matter, since, here, the attention is paid to the various linguistic ways of connecting ideas across phrases and sentences. Chuming‟s (2000) Length Approach encourages students to write as long as possible. In fact, writing long compositions can help L2 learners improve both their confidence and interest, which has appeared to be successful in many perspectives.

In her typology, Hinds (1987) considers English a language that assigns the task of effective communication to the writer. In other words, if there is a communication breakdown it is automatically the fault of a writer who has not stated his ideas clearly. In brief, writing as a social, communicative, and purposeful activity assigns responsibility to the writer. Pedagogically, The EFL classroom can perfectly create a suitable environment for the practice of writing, commencing with collecting ideas, pre-writing, planning, working out drafts, and preparing the final version. Interestingly, writing is not a solitary activity. Instead, it is an incredibly interactive process, engaging the student-writer, other learners, and the teacher. Hence, students‟ compositions improve as they respond to the feedback, opinions, and suggestions others provide.

Harmer (2001) cites White and Arndt‟s (1991:5) model/ Process of Writing that provides an interrelated set of recursive stages.


a) Drafting
b) Structuring (ordering information, experimenting with arrangements, etc.)
c) Reviewing (checking context, connections, assessing impact, editing)
d) Focusing (making sure you are getting the message across you want to get across)
e) Generating ideas and evaluation (assessing the draft and/or subsequent drafts)

I.1.4.1 Differences between speaking and writing

The table below illustrates the differences between speaking and writing. It seems that speaking is a natural skill while writing is a gradually acquirable skill.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Table1: Differences between speaking and writing. From

On the whole, speaking is defined as a spontaneous, social, cognitive, and interactive process in which a full range of complex operations occur. Writing, on the other hand, is artificial and permanent and demands a systematic instruction, formal teaching and positive environment,

I.1.5 The ESP Teacher

For Harmer, teachers use a variety of metaphors to describe what they do. “Sometimes they say they are like actors because „we are always on stage‟. Others think like orchestral conductors because „I direct conversation and set the pace and tone‟. Yet others feel like gardeners, „because we plant the seeds and then watch them grow.” Apart from this, The ESP teacher performs more specific and challenging roles. Harmer cites Dudley-Evans and St John (1988), who use the term “practitioner” rather than “teacher” to demonstrate that the field of ESP engages more than customary teaching. They describe the true ESP Teacher/practitioner as performing five different roles, namely a) teacher, b) course designer and material provider c) collaborator, d) researcher, and e) evaluator.

The ESP practitioner as teacher does not necessarily designate that the teacher is the only source of knowledge. Students can also contribute significantly to the enrichment and enhancement of course content. Importantly enough, the teacher can create a vibrant atmosphere, where students could be more motivated to bring, share, and exchange their thoughts, and thus reinforce their communicative skills. In sum, the ESP teacher ought to be flexible, approachable, methodical, accommodating, and interested in disciplines and activities in which students are involved.

The ESP practitioner as course designer and material provider: ESP teachers often have the tendency to bring their own teaching materials to their students. These materials could be published or self-produced, yet they have to reflect certain degree of professionalism. An authentic teaching material is designed to serve a specific audience and its utmost purpose is the communication of course content rather than language form. ESP teachers must be able to assess the effectiveness of teaching materials used in class, so that they can meet the expectations of the learners.

The ESP practitioner as collaborator: Dudley-Evans and St John (1988) use the term collaborator to suggest that a teacher should cooperate with subject specialists. In other words, a specialist may provide new insights and comments on the content of teaching materials that the ESP teacher has prepared, so that the course content could perfectly meet the learners‟ needs. He sums up the advantages of team teaching as follows:


a) The student is given the chance to see how well he/she is measuring up to the requirements of his/her department and to catch on work, not fully understood.
b) The language teacher is able to see at first-hand what difficulties students have with their subject course.
c) The subject teacher gets feedback on how well he/she has been communicating with students.

The ESP practitioner as researcher: research has been incredibly important in the field of ESP. It allows the ESP practitioner to meet students‟ needs by providing them with authentic and engaging teaching materials. The ESP practitioner as a researcher allows himself/herself to diversify his/her knowledge about the discipline and enrich the issue being dealt with. Given this, it becomes reasonable to say that research goes in tandem with ESP, particularly when results lead directly to appropriate materials for the classroom.

The ESP practitioner as evaluator: evaluation is a key element in the teaching of ESP. Evaluation takes many forms and among the most popular is testing students. In other words, measuring their progress, identifying their language learning problems, opting for the right skills they need to develop, and ultimately determining what and how to learn.

All in all, it should be recognized that ESP teachers are not in any way specialists. A good ESP teacher should demonstrate some degree of adaptation from one business domain to another without distraction or confusion. He/she should also pave the way for students‟ learning needs by providing them with authentic, up-to- date, and relevant materials. In fact, it is the teacher who facilitates the learning/teaching process and minimizes constraints. Given the demands of ESP teaching and the diversity put on the shoulders of the ESP teachers, Dudley-Evans stresses the quality of flexibility as one of the prime keys to success in ESP teaching.

I.2 Approaches and Types of Language Syllabi

This section will survey different teaching approaches and language syllabi frequently introduced in the field of TEFL. The focus will be mainly on Communicative and Learning-centered approaches, along with Structural and Functional syllabi. My intention behind opting for the above-mentioned approaches and language syllabi is to find out to what extent learners are involved in the teaching/learning process.

I.2.1 Communicative Approach

The Communicative Approach to ESL is an approach to language learning that arose out in the 1970s and 1980s. Its emphasis has been on language use, that is, to apply the acquired knowledge. Finochiane and Brumfit (1987: 148) declare that “the communicative approach focuses on the purposes for which language is used; when we use a language we do not think of grammatical categories, as described by linguists.” Similarly, Harmer (2001) says that “the Communicative Approach stressed the significance of language functions rather than focusing solely on grammar and vocabulary.” Apparently, the above cited quotes unanimously consent that the Communicative Approach discards grammatical rules, and hence considers language functions as the medium of communication. Furthermore, the Communicative Approach entails a whole spectrum of functions (providing input, apologizing, expressing likes and dislikes, etc.). Interestingly, the learner forms the core of this approach, while the teacher is no longer seen the only provider of comprehensible input. The learner is, rather, a planner and facilitator of learning activities.

The utmost goal of classroom activities within the Communicative Approach is the inclusion of authentic and meaningful communication. Richards and Rogers (1986:72) support this claim by stressing that “learning activities are selected according to how well they encourage the learning in meaningful and authentic language use (rather than merely mechanical practice of language patterns).” In this respect, communication can be divided into two categories: Input is what students receive through reading and listening whilst output is what students produce in speaking and writing.

7) Categories of commnnication

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Harmer (2001) describes briefly the characteristics of the Communicative Approach.


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Business English and the Teaching of Productive Skills in Morocco
Department of English
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ecole nationale de commerce et de gestion, business english, english for specific purposes
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Housseine Bachiri (Author), 2011, Business English and the Teaching of Productive Skills in Morocco, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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