History and Types of English for Specific Purposes (ESP)

History and Development of ESP

The development of ESP may be summarized into five stages as suggested by Hutchinson and Waters (1987), namely:

  1. The concept of special language (register analysis). Before ESP, language teaching uses language samples and inputs that are most often than not, alien to the students. During the first phases of ESP’s development, language teachers began to see that there is a “special language” in certain fields. Thus, from the usual “This is a book” sample sentence, teachers began to introduce more discipline-specific terms such as “This is an Erlenmeyer flask.”
  2. Beyond the sentence. From words or terms, ESP teachers began to explore more about the “special language” by engaging in rhetorical or discourse analysis
  3. Target situation analysis. Later on, ESP teachers began to analyze the “end goal” of a particular language class, i.e. “What should the learners be able to do after taking up the ESP course?”
  4. Skills and strategies. The focus of teaching has turned to the skills that learners should develop and the strategies on how these would be achieved.
  5. Learning-centered approach. Most recently, ESP gave emphasis on how learning will be attained and how learners will learn.

What are the types of ESP?

ESP is basically divided into two types: EOP (English for Occupational Purposes) and EAP (English for Academic Purposes). From the names themselves, learners who are enrolled in EOP and EAP have specific objectives, that is to develop English in preparation for work or job (EOP) and improve language proficiency to survive and function better in a higher academic setting (EAP). The table below shows the different types of ESP.