Lack of Experience in Teaching English for Specific Purposes (ESP) at Vocational Training Centres in Misrata

Elaboration, 2007

20 Pages



This paper focuses on teaching English for Specific Purposes (ESP). ESP works to provide learners with the focal point of the course process that ESP learners need in their majors. The aim of this work is to enhance the awareness of the teachers who are involved in teaching ESP programmes. The study is divided into three chapters. The First Chapter investigates the problem and hypothesis of the study on the assumption that the teachers of Vocational Institutes are not capable to teach the textbook as an ESP course. Since the study deals with the Third Year Classes in Misurata Vocational Institutes, a look at the textbook syllabus is given. Chapter Two gives an analysis of the results of the teachers’ the classroom observation, as they are the practical part of the study. Finally, Chapter Three presents the conclusions of the study followed by some recommendations.

1. Introduction

This research deals with the teaching of English for Specific Purposes (ESP) in the Third Year Classes of Vocational Training Institutes in Misurata. The textbook used for the Third Year in vocational training institutes is based on ESP, or to put it more clearly, it is based on English for Occupational Purposes (EOP). ESP has traditionally been divided into two main areas: English for Academic Purposes (EAP), and English for Occupational Purposes (EOP).

ESP, according to Hutchinson and Waters (2005), emerged in the late 1960s, but it has been put into practice in Libyan educational community only recently. Therefore, teachers who deal with the text-book in Libyan vocational institutes should be well aware of ESP and know how to use it.

The main concerns of ESP have always been, and remain, needs analysis, text analysis, and preparing learners to communicate effectively in the tasks prescribed by their study or work situation. Dudley-Evans and John (1998: 1) state:

It is often said that ESP lacks an underlying theory. We believe that a theory of ESP could be outlined based on either the specific nature of the texts that learners require knowledge of, or on the basis of the needs-related nature of the teaching.

As stated above, ESP has had a relatively long time to mature and so it would be expected that the ESP community would have a clear idea about what ESP means. Some, such as Dudley-Evans and John (1998: 2) describe ESP as simply being the teaching of Language for Specific Purpose (LSP) that could be specified. Ewer and Latorre’s (1969: 26), cited in Hutchinson and Waters (2005: 10), however, are more precise describing it as the teaching/ learning of language used in academic studies, or the teaching of language for vocational or professional purposes.

1.2. The Problem of the Study

ESP, like any other form of language teaching, is principally concerned with language teaching. Hutchinson and Waters (2005) consider ESP as a phenomenon that grew out of a number of converging trends, like most developments in the human activity. The problem is that teachers of English, who deal with the vocational training textbook used in the third year in Misurata, teach it as general English (GE), not as an ESP English Course. Thus, this issue has been chosen to be the theme of the study.

1.3. The Aim of the Study

This research attempts to find out the problem or problems that hinder the teaching of ESP courses as suggested by the ESP experts, such as Hutchinson, Waters, Dudley-Evans, John and Jordan. It also attempts to draw the teachers’ attention to the importance of using the techniques included in the English text-book of the Third Classes in Vocational Training Institutes in Misurata.

Significance of the Study

The study gains its significance from the fact that it is one of few studies to deal with the teaching of ESP in our educational community. English teachers, who deal with the Third Year in the Vocational Training Institutes, teach the textbook as General English, not as ESP. Thus, the study is an attempt to evaluate the way those teachers adopted in their teaching of the textbook and it is hoped that it will be helpful to those teachers who teach the prescribed syllabus. Consequently, if textbooks are taught as ESP courses, learners, it is hoped, are able to communicate effectively in their study or work situations. In addition, it attempts to develop an understanding of the factors that led to the emergence of ESP and the forces, both theoretical and applied, that have shaped its subsequent development.

ESP is known as a learner-centered approach to teaching English as a foreign or second language. Mostly, it meets the needs of the adult learners who need to learn a foreign language for use in their specific fields, such as science, technology, medicine, and academic learning.

1.4. The Hypothesis of the Study

It is hypothesized that language teachers, in Misurata Institutes, do not teach the textbook as an ESP course. It is hypothesized that they do not know how to teach all the aspects of the language, such as vocabulary, grammar, and the four skills (related to ESP), properly. This shortcoming in language teaching will undoubtedly lead to bad results.

1.5. The Procedures of the Study

To accomplish the goal of this study, a classroom observation will be conducted, and consequently, the findings of the classroom observation will be presented and analysed. According to the results that are obtained from the study, some recommendations are given in the last chapter.

1.6. The Status of the Textbook Used in Third Year of Vocational Training Institutes

Like other majors of study in our educational system, English Textbooks used in Libya have been changed in the past fifteen years in order to cope with the changes taking place all over the world. The programme of teaching English in our schools and vocational training institutes has been changed in an attempt to make the prescribed syllabus of English cope with the rapid changes that happened in technology and economics. The students of Vocational Institutes start studying English from the First Year till the Third Year which is the subject of this study, after they have started studying English at the Seventh, Eight, and Ninth Classes of the basic education stage. The new English textbooks of the Vocational Training Institutes have been prescribed as ESP courses. During these three years, learners learn different professional topics. Each English textbook used in the Vocational Training Institutes is accompanied by teacher’s book and class cassettes to be introduced for the students. In addition, workbooks are designed to give learners more exercises for practices support the textbooks. Since this study aims at evaluating the teaching of the ESP at the Third Year of Vocational Institutes in Misurata, the focus will be on the material used at this stage as follows: The textbook comprises a Course Book, a Workbook, a Teacher’s Book, and a Class Cassette. The textbooks used here are designed to take (100) hours of study in total throughout the whole school year. The Course book is divided into twelve units. Each unit is divided into six lessons as follows:

a. Lesson One and Two, Reading and Vocabulary. The textbook contains many activities, before reading activities as pair or group work activities for discussion about the text, which is carefully selected to meet the purposes of the lesson. Here learners are encouraged to use the titles and pictures, while you read, like answering some questions and saying whether the given sentences are true or false. After reading, they do some activities like adding extra information about the lesson and doing some practice in groups.
b. Lesson Three, listening. Here, the course book contains many activities such as introducing the lesson, while you listen, like choosing the correct picture among three pictures and inferring some information.
c. Lesson Four, Speaking. In this lesson, the course book focuses on playing some games in pairs and talking about differences in life style in group work.
d. Lesson Five, Grammar. Here, the course book contains many passages to be used in teaching the grammatical points such as distinguishing the adjectives and adverbs from the context, identifying the kinds of tenses and so on.
e. Lesson Six, Writing. For this skill, the course book contains many pictures and texts in pairs and adds additional information, making notes and describing the pictures.

The Workbook is designed to be used along with the course book. It contains practical material and space for the students to write. It has, on average, ten different exercises per presentation Unit. (cf. Philips, T. and A. 1999: 4-9).

2. Data Analysis

2.1. Introduction

In this chapter, the focus will be on the data collected from the classroom observation (see page: 4 of this work). The classroom observation is carried out to see if the teachers of English of the Third Year Classes in the Vocational Institutes in Misurata who are the subject of the study, teach the textbook as an ESP course. Besides, the observation aims to see whether the activities prescribed in the textbook of the Third Year Classes of the Vocational Institutes in Misurata are practised in the classes, or not; mainly the writing, speaking, and listening activities, as they are always neglected by the teachers.

2.3. Classroom Observation

The classroom observation was the only tool used in this research for collecting data about the kind of techniques and activities adopted by the teachers who were involved in teaching ESP in the Third Year in Misurata Vocational Training Institutes. The aim of the observation was to have a close look at the kind of teaching methodology the teachers are using and to find out how they deal with the textbook during the teaching process.


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Lack of Experience in Teaching English for Specific Purposes (ESP) at Vocational Training Centres in Misrata
Misurata University
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lack, experience, teaching, english, specific, purposes, vocational, training, centres, misrata
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Ismail Faraj Elgamati (Author), 2007, Lack of Experience in Teaching English for Specific Purposes (ESP) at Vocational Training Centres in Misrata, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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