Materials Used and Evaluation Methods in English for Specific Purposes (ESP)


In ESP, as it is in any language program, materials play a very vital role. They should be carefully selected and designed to suit the needs of the learners. One important characteristic of ESP materials is its “authenticity”. In EGP, “authentic” is defined as materials originally produced for a purpose other than language teaching. In ESP “authentic” materials are those that are normally used in the students’ workplace or academic environment. 

In terms of “types,” ESP materials may be divided into two, namely: content-based materials and competency-based materials. In relation to previous discussions on syllabus design, content-based ESP materials are those that focus on language form, language notion, language function, situation, or even topic. Thus, content-based is more appropriate in EAP. On the other hand, competency-based materials focus on language skills (skills-based syllabus); thus, this is more appropriately applied in EOP.


Similar to materials, evaluation processes are important to ESP too. An evaluation provides necessary information regarding the extent to which the learner learned. In ESP, testing is mostly performance-based, as opposed to the usual paper-and-pencil test. Since testing in ESP focuses on the question “has the student reached the level that he’s/she’s supposed to reach?” there will be no better way to know this but through “simulated” tests that compel students to perform. In relation to this, ESP tests are criterion-referenced because a student should reach a particular level in order to pass the course. (This is contrary to EGP tests, which are often norm-referenced.)