The Role of the Student
- What does the learner bring to the classroom and what is the task the language learner faces? The learners come to the ESP class with a specific focus for learning, subject matter knowledge, and well-developed adult learning strategies. They face the task of developing English language skills to reflect their native-language knowledge and skills.
1. Focus for Learning: The ESP student has a particular purpose and focus for learning. People learn languages when they have opportunities to understand and work with language in a context that they comprehend and find interesting. ESP is a vehicle for such opportunities. Students will acquire English as they work with materials which they find interesting and relevant and which they can use in their professional work or further studies. Successful learners pay attention to the meaning of the language they hear or read and do not focus primarily on the linguistic input or isolated language structures. The ESP student is particularly well disposed to focus on meaning in the subject-matter field. In ESP, English should be presented not as a subject or body of facts to be learned in isolation from real use, nor as a mechanical skill or habit to be developed. Rather, English should be presented in authentic contexts to acquaint the learners with the particular ways the language is used in functions that they will need to perform in their specialty fields.
2. Subject-Matter Knowledge: Learners in the ESP classroom are able to make a real contribution to the language learning process. They are generally aware of the purposes for which they will need to use English. Having already oriented their training toward a specific field, they see their English instruction as complementing this orientation. Knowledge of the speciality area enables the students to identify a real context for the vocabulary and structures of the ESP classroom. In this way, the learners can take advantage of what they already know about the subject matter field to learn English.
3. Adult Learning Strategies: Learning as an adult has advantages -- adults must work harder than children to learn a new language, but the learning strategies they bring to the task enable them to learn faster and more efficiently. The skills they have already developed in reading and writing their native languages will make learning English easier. Although the English of the students you will be working with will most likely be quite limited, the language learning abilities of the adult in the ESP classroom are potentially great. Language learning continues naturally throughout our lives. Educated adults are constantly learning new language behavior in their native languages; expanding vocabulary, becoming more articulate in their fields, and modifying their linguistic behavior in new situations or new roles. ESP students can tap these natural competencies in learning English.
To summarize, ESP combines
Your role in the ESP classroom is to
• organize programs
Your students bring to ESP
• focus for learning
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