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Name: Joseph Brown (2231416)

Module: The Principles & Practice of Teaching EAP/ESP (4012)

Tutor: Clare ODonoghue
Date: 15/12/2003
W/C 3,465
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Design an original syllabus for a specified group of learners on an ESP or EAP course of
100 hours. Discuss the issues involved in such a course design. Evaluate the strengths and
weaknesses of your course. Discuss the methodology that would most meet the students
learning needs. Provide some sample material in an appendix.

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The development of English for specific purposes (ESP) can be traced along two
pathways: language use and language learning. The first, language use, focused on the
surface forms of the language; that is, sentence level as in register analysis (the
identification of grammatical and lexical features of the target environment), and above as
in discourse analysis (the identification of language use and meaning in the target
environment). These two areas of development have been placed under one umbrella;
namely, the target situation analysis (TSA), which seeks to identify that which the learner
needs to know in order to function to the required degree of competence in the job/target
. The second, language learning, focused on the underlying factors that aid
as well as impede language learning. [It] cannot [be] simply assume[d] that describing
and exemplifying what people do with language will enable someone to learn it ... a truly
valid approach to ESP must be based on an understanding of the processes of language
learning (Hutchinson & Waters, 1999: 14).
Some of the apparent differences between ESP and general purpose English
(GPE) are as follows: ESP is goal oriented; it focuses on specific identifiable
; it focuses on language appropriate to the activities specified by the TSA;
it runs for a limited period of time in which objectives must be achieved; it is aimed at a
specific discourse community (DC); and its learners are adults or teenagers and not
school-children, except those in technical schools where English is not the native
language but the medium of instruction. As for the growth of ESP, it can be linked
primarily to the following three factors: (1) the expansion of demand for English to suit
particular needs. (2) Developments in the fields of linguistics and (3), educational
psychology; that is, factors that aid or impede learning (Hutchinson & Waters, 1999: 8).
The aim of this paper is to design an original ESP course for a specific group of
learners (refugees, asylum-seekers and immigrants). They are experienced painters and
decorators in their native countries (North & West Africa, and the Eastern-bloc), but

[F]or certain jobs, students may require only a low-level of accuracy, or native-like ability, etc. The
TSA may thus pinpoint the stage at which good enough competence for the job is reached
(Robinson, 1991: 9).
What distinguishes ESP from General English is not the existence of a need as such but rather an
awareness of the needit is the awareness of a target situation a definable need to communicate in
English - that distinguishes the ESP learner from the learner of General English (Hutchinson & Waters,
1998: 53-54).
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need to improve their level of English, in order to ascertain employment in England,
working on both commercial and domestic building projects.
The paper is divided into the following three parts. Part 1: The Needs Analysis,
which is subdivided into five: (1) Needs. (2) The target situation analysis (TSA). (3) The
present situation analysis (PSA). (4) The learning situation analysis (LSA) and
(5), Needs analysis: An ongoing process. Part 2: English for Painting and Decorating:
Syllabus & Course Design, and part 3 concludes by looking at the issues involved in
designing the syllabus; evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of the syllabus; as well as
discussing the methodology that most suits the learning needs of the students.
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Part 1
The Needs Analysis

1.1 Needs
The term needs is somewhat vague and does not convey the true complexity of the
different factors and perspectives that have helped the phenomenon to grow. Thus, it is
not surprising to find that when we delve beneath the surface, a number of definitions
have been made

1.2 Target Situation Analysis (TSA)
The first stage in designing an ESP course is to identify the needs of the respective
job/target environment. The idea is to collect as much data as is possible as regards that
environment and the linguistic features commonly used therein. A number of methods
can be used to ascertain this information such as: questionnaires, interviews, and
observations, collection of subject-specific texts, informal interviews with sponsors,
institutions or companies, as well as personal experience. Of course, the method/s
employed in gathering such data is dependant on the time and resources available.
The most sophisticated application of needs analysis to language syllabus design is
to be found in the work of John Munby (1978). The model contains nine elements and
according to Munby, it is important for the syllabus designer to collect information on
each of these components
(Nunan, 1988: 19).

A number of people, for example, Berwick, R. (1989), Brindley, G.P. (1989), Mounford, A. (1981),
and Widdowson, H.G. (1981) have discussed the different meanings or types of needs. First, needs
can refer to students study or job requirements, that is, what they have to be able to do at the end of
their language course. This is a goal-oriented definition of needs (Widdowson, p. 2). Needs in this
sense are perhaps more appropriately described as objectives (Berwick, p. 57). Second, needs
can mean what the user-institution or society at large regards as necessary or desirable to be learnt from
a programme of language instruction (Mounford, p. 27). Third, we can consider what the learner
needs to do to actually acquire the language. This is a process-oriented definition of needs and relates
to transitional behaviour, the means of learning (Widdowson, p. 2). Fourth, we can consider what the
students themselves would like to gain from the language course. This view of needs implies the
students may have personal aims in addition to (or even in opposition to) the requirements of their studies
or jobs. Such personal needs may be (and often are) devalued by being viewed as wants or desires
(Berwick, p. 55). Finally, we may interpret needs as lacks, that is, what the students do not know or
cannot do in English (Robinson, 1991: 7-8)
(1) Participant: Under this component is specified information relating to the learners identity and
language skills. (2) Purposive domain: This category refers to the purpose for which the target language is
required. (3) Setting: Under this parameter, the syllabus designer must consider the environments in
which the target language will be employed. (4) Interaction: Here, the syllabus designer needs to consider
the people with whom the learner will be interacting. (5) Instrumentality: [This] refers to the medium
(whether the language is spoken or written, receptive or productive), the mode (whether the
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The following table is an adaptation of Munbys model in an attempt to show some of the
job/target requirements in the field of painting & decorating, drawn from 15 years
personal experience.

Job/Target requirements Related micro-functions Language forms (productive)
Read & understand Job
specification (appendix 1)
1) Carry out job specification. Use of imperatives.
Understanding vocabulary with
specialized meaning.
Understanding ellipsis.
Ability to express oneself. 1) Client advice & suggestion.

2) Report job progress to
Use of negative.
Use of conditional sentences.
Use of adverbs of manner,
frequency and place.
Use of adjectives.
Ordering & receiving materials. 1) Monitor & assess the
amount of materials needed
for & during a job.

2) Check & receive ordered
Use of genitive: I have.../we have
Use of numbers (cardinal and

Use of there, theres and there are.

1.3 Present Situation Analysis (PSA)
This aspect of the needs analysis looks at the learners existing proficiency and pitches it
against the required target proficiency (TSA). Information as regards the students
existing language proficiency can be acquired by means of a proficiency test. The gap
between the TSA and the PSA (i.e. students existing proficiency) is the area in which the
learner is lacking (Dudley-Evans & St John, 1998: 123-4). It is this area that will form the
basis of the course.
Since the learners are already experienced in the field of painting and decorating,
content knowledge can thus be assumed and therefore not necessary. The learners as a
whole are a heterogeneous group in terms of their language (L1) and educational
background. All students are required to sit a proficiency test at the beginning of the
course so as to determine their English language proficiency, which ranges from false-
beginner to intermediate, with some possessing a higher level of English.

communication is monologue or dialogue, written or spoken, to be heard or read), and the channel
(whether the communication is face-to-face or indirect). (Nunan, 1988: 19-20).
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1.4 Learning Situation Analysis (LSA)
The learning situation analysis (LSA) seeks to establish the external and internal factors
concerning the environment in which teaching is to take place and the learning-needs of
the learners.
The external factors can be seen as objective and are things such as: place (i.e. target
country/native country); duration of course; length of classes; time of classes; size of
classes (i.e. number of students per class); number of teaching staff available; and
availability of equipment (i.e. over-head projectors, photocopiers, etc).
The internal factors can be seen as subjective and are things such as: the cognitive
processes of learning (i.e. the most effective learning style for a student); the psychological
needs of a student (i.e. support, confidence building, and the issue of face validity);
students likes and dislikes (i.e. pair-work, group-work, tests, etc); and last but not least,
learner motivation
, which is crucial in establishing an effective and efficient learning
Concerning the external factors - the English for painting and decorating course is a
four-week intensive run in the target-country (England). Classes are held in the mornings,
from 9am-1pm, with approximately 15 learners per class. The teaching-staff are qualified
and experienced ESOL tutors with a proven track record of committed professionalism
and motivation. The institute is situated in the heart of London, and is equipped with
audio-visual equipment, including video; soundproofed self-access language laboratories
and self-access internet facilities. It is accredited by the British Council and is a member
of ARELS (Association of Recognised English Language Services).
As for the internal factors, all learners are required to complete a questionnaire
provided by their tutor on the first day of class, so as to obtain data pertaining to issues
like those raised in the internal section of appendix 2. This information is then used to
finalise a workable framework that for the most part, meets the various needs of the
learner. Of course, not all needs can be accommodated; nonetheless, the staff at the
institute are committed to making ones stay an enjoyable and profitable affair.

Research over the last decade has confirmed that a variety of affective variables relate to success in
second language acquisition (Krashen, 1982: 31).
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1.5 Needs Analysis: An ongoing process
Needs analysis (NA) as an ongoing process, has established itself over the years as an
integral part of the ESP programme. It is most beneficial because (1), it can be used as an
evaluator, allowing the relevant bodies (i.e. the sponsors, the institute, the teachers, the
students, and the course designer) the opportunity to assess whether the course is meeting
the perceived target needs of the students and (2), it highlights the areas which need
modifying in order to meet the target requirements and fulfil the learning needs of the
students. The mechanisms incorporated in the English for painting & decorating course
by which NA as an ongoing process is achieved are as follows:
Informal classroom observation. This is an ...integral part of everyday teaching.
[T]eachers continuously observe their students language use during formal
instruction or while the students are working individually at their desks (Genesee &
Upshur, 1998: 77-78). This entails the observation of how students respond to and
use instructional materials; how they interact during group/pair-work; the learning
strategies that facilitate as well as impede their learning; and a weekly revision.
Mid-course student tutorials. Students discuss with the tutor on a one-to-one basis
the effectiveness of the tutors teaching; any difficulties the students maybe
experiencing in respect of learning; and the contents of their portfolios.
Self (i.e. teacher) observation. The tutor should continuously observe how
effectively they are presenting their lessons. They should provide enough
comprehensible input and be aware of the student/s who have not grasped the
intended lesson, as well as the errors they make, the cause/s of such errors and the
circumstances under which they are made.
All these observations, and any subsequence inferences concerning teaching and learning
are important for the planning and execution of the same lesson, unit or course in the

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Part 2
English for Painting & Decorating:
Syllabus & Course

3.1 The Syllabus
Organizing a syllabus is just as important as the syllabus itself. An ESP syllabus should not
be done in an ad-hoc way, but according to certain criterion (i.e. functional, notional,
situational, phonological, lexical, topic, task, and skills). A syllabus should be a reflection
of the needs of the student, as well as the different facets of language and language
learning. If we know that there is both a functional and a structural aspect to language,
then a course should have a functional and a structural syllabus. If we know that language
knowledge is limited unless the learner has the skills and strategies for using it, then a
course should have a skills and strategies syllabus too (Hutchinson & Waters, 1999: 89).
Given the complexity of language and language learning, it is imperative that a number of
factors be considered, when deciding what to teach to a particular group of learners, over
a limited time period and with clear ESP goals for post-course employment - all of which
must ultimately be reflected in the syllabus.
When deciding as to what type of syllabus would best meet the learning needs of
the students and maximise learning, one thing soon became apparent - no one syllabus
was able to fully meet these objectives. If one were to adopt one syllabus at the expense
of another (or others), then the likelihood is that the programme would suffer from
serious omissions and deficiencies. However, The real issue is not which syllabus to
put first ... [but] how to integrate eight or so syllabuses (functional, notional, situational,
topic, phonological, lexical, structural, skills) into a sensible teaching programme
(Swan, 1985: 80).
The English for painting & decorating syllabus (appendix 3) is primarily a
functional/task-based syllabus; however, it does implicitly operate several parallel
syllabuses (grammar, situational, skills, lexical, notional, and phonological). ...[T]eaching
materials must, in reality, operate several syllabuses at the same time. One will probably
be used as the principal organising feature, but the others are still there, even if they are
not taken into account in the organization of the material (Hutchinson & Waters,
1999: 89). The syllabus is analytic, as the purpose of the course is to bring the learner to
an adequate level of real-world language use in respect of the job/target environment.
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[A]nalytical syllabuses are organised in terms of the purpose for which people are
learning language and the kinds of language performance that are necessary to meet those
purposes (Nunan, 1988: 27-28).

3.2 The Course
The English for painting & decorating course is a four week intensive programme to
which the learners time is totally committed. This enables the learner to focus solely on
the purpose for which they are learning the language without any distractions. Due to the
availability of time, a great deal of variety can be incorporated into the lessons. This can
be extremely helpful in alleviating boredom and maintaining the learners interest.
The course has a narrow orientation as opposed to being broad. This enables the
teacher to utilize several skills when teaching, even though the need may be one; for
example, to teach the English names of the tools of the trade. This could be
accomplished by drilling exercises (an aspect of Behaviourism), multiple-choice exercises,
and a dictation coupled with a self-evaluation worksheet (appendix 4), all the while
maintaining that communicative element, which facilitates and maintains learner
interaction; a facet of the learner-centred approach.
As for the materials used on the course, they are both common-core and specific;
authentic and non-authentic; however, the degree of use in respect of specificity is
dependant upon the learners pre-experience (i.e. knowledge of the target environment).
The course should be neither fixed to the point of being rigid, neither should it be
negotiable to the point of being unauthoritative, but instead it should lie between the two,
with feed-back channels (i.e. student-tutorials/conferences and in-course assessments) in
order to accommodate change.
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Part 3
The Conclusion

4.1 Issues involved in designing the syllabus
One of the initial difficulties encountered in designing this syllabus was the issue of
content selection. ESP courses normally run for a limited period of time. This is
problematic since ...the shorter the course, the greater the need for precision in content
specification (Nunan, 1988: 10). What this means, is that tasks, which are incorporated
into the syllabus, must ensure maximum transfer of learning to those tasks, which are not.
For example, teaching the verb to be (which, in Arabic, is implied) would not only be
taught as a grammatical exercise, but it would also be used to perform real-world
communicative objectives like introducing oneself (appendix 4).
Another issue encountered while designing the syllabus was the point of departure,
that is to say, upon what criteria should the sequencing of the tasks be based. Should it be
according to grammatical simplicity and complexity (i.e. sequence the teaching of
grammatical elements according to simplicity), or should it be according to the
communicative purposes for which the learner requires the language.
Concerning grammatical simplicity and complexity, ...what is grammatically complex
will not necessarily be that which is difficult to learn, and that which is grammatically
simple will not necessarily be that which is easy to learn (ibid, 28). Ability and aptitude
are variables, and what may be simple to grasp for one learner, may not be so for another.
As for the functional syllabus, it has been commended by Finocchiaro and Brumfit
(1983) for placing the learner and their communicative needs at the heart of the
. However, this approach makes the selection and grading of tasks much more
difficult, because in order to select tasks that will best meet the learners communicative
objectives, a needs analysis must be conducted. One of the problems with conducting a

[Finnochiaro and Brumfit] list the following benefits of adopting a functional-notional orientation:
(1) it sets realistic learning tasks. (2) It provides for the teaching of everyday, real-world language.
(3) It leads us to emphasise receptive (listening/reading) activities before rushing into premature
performance. (4) It recognizes that the speaker must have a real purpose for speaking and something to
talk about. (5) Communication will be intrinsically motivating because it expresses basic communicative
functions. (6) It enables teachers to exploit sound psycholinguistic, sociolinguistic, linguistic and
educational principles. (7) It can develop naturally from existing teaching methodology. (8) It enables a
spiral curriculum to be used, which reinforces grammatical, topical and cultural material. (9) It allows for
the development of flexible, modular courses. (10) It provides for the widespread promotion of foreign
language courses (Nunan, 1988: 36).
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needs analysis is that it is time consuming. Adding to that, once the data has been
collected, it then has to be processed and analysed.
As for the grading of tasks (i.e. what should be taught first), there is no clear means by
which we can truly say that one functional item such as advising or giving directions is
simpler to learn than another. Thus, the tasks in this syllabus have been graded, for the
most part, according to the sequence of activities carried out in a days work as a painter &

4.2 Weaknesses of the syllabus
One of the weaknesses of the syllabus is the lack of recycling. Because of the time
constraints that encapsulate ESP courses; it was difficult to incorporate adequate recycling
into the syllabus. Reinforcing memorization and improving communication is dependant
on recycling and the performing of objectives (role-plays). However, Friday has been
designated as a review day of the week.
Another weakness of the syllabus is that it does not incorporate any cultural
content. Some of the students may have little or no knowledge of English culture and will
undoubtedly encounter difficulty in understanding idiomaticness and metaphoricness;
and since ESP accounts for a small percentage of general English (GE), it is important
that some cultural element be included in the syllabus.

4.3 Strengths of the syllabus
One of the strengths of the syllabus is that it does not impose upon the learner the
concept of failure. Because there are no formal examinations at the end of the course, but
instead, in-course assessments and an end of course achievement test, the notion of
failure is removed from the learners psyche. The idea that an ESP course is solely about
achieving objectives implies that anything less than, is a failure. Of course, there should be
goals towards which learning is directed, but only as a focal point. If the foci is centred
upon improving the individuals initial situation, as appose to the attainment of pre-set
objectives, then what should ensue from this is a sense of achievement, which in turn
should foster a desire to continue learning. Hence, the English for painting & decorating
syllabus is an open-ended affair wherein learning continues beyond the parameters of the
course, that is, the real-world.

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4.4 Methodology most suited to the learning needs of the students
The methodology that one adopts is dependant on the interpretation one holds
concerning language and language learning. The traditionalist view (and one that often
made the teacher appear intimidating to the learner) was that the teacher was the sole
possessor of knowledge, and the learner was merely an empty vessel into which
knowledge was transferred (the jug and mug syndrome). Over the years, our
understanding of language and the cognitive processes of language learning has vastly
improved. No longer is the learner viewed as an empty vessel waiting to be filled, but a
person who has a mind, who has feelings, who has expectations, but most importantly,
who has existing knowledge of language communication (L1).
The methodology proposed for the implementation of the English for painting &
decorating syllabus, and one that is reflective of such an understanding, is the learner-
centred approach. It is one in which key decisions about what will be taught, how it will
be taught, when it will be taught, and how it will be assessed ... [is] made with reference to
the learner (Nunan, 1996: 14). In the learner-centred approach, the learner is
considered at every stage of the design process, from identifying the target situation, to
designing/and or redesigning the syllabus, through to the selection and the teaching of
materials, as well as monitoring and evaluating ones own progress.
The English for painting & decorating syllabus was designed without consulting real
learners because of the following two reasons:
(1) The impracticality of gaining access to real learners.
(2) Not all learners would be endowed with ample knowledge of the target-
environment with which to provide accurate and substantial data.
Hence, the data used to design the syllabus, is taken from 15 years personal experience as
a painter & decorator, as well as knowledge of the language and culture of the learners,
obtained through study, travel and teaching work.
Likewise, the learner-centred approach is oriented towards learner-autonomy. It is
an end towards which all teachers and learners ought to work (ibid: 14). However,
because not all learners are endowed with the ability to make informed decisions from
the outset, an approach that is oriented towards developing this ability is required.
The learning-centred approach, which consist of two complementary aims: the language
content and the learning process, systematically educates [the learner] ... in the skills and
knowledge ... [necessary] in order to make informed choices about what they want to
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learn and how they want to learn (ibid: 15). So what we find is that one (approach)
necessitates the other.
Because of the centrality of the learner, the needs of the learner, and the cognitive
processes that underpin language learning, no single methodology is able to completely
meet such demands. The most suited approach (and it is one that has been adopted for
the implementation of this syllabus) is principled eclecticism; that is, utilizing what is best
or most appropriate from a variety of sources or styles (appendixes 4, 5, 6 & 7).

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practice, in Johnson, R. K. (ed.) (1989) The Second Language Curriculum. CUP.

Brindley, G. P. (1989). The role of needs analysis in adult ESL programme design, in
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Dudley-Evans, T. and St John, M. (1998). Developments in English for Specific
Purposes. Cambridge: CUP.

Genesee, F. & Upshur, J. A. (1998). Classroom-based Evaluation in Second Language
Education. Cambridge: CUP.

Hutchinson & Waters, A. (1999). English for Specific Purposes. Cambridge: CUP.

Krashen, S. D. (1982). Principles and Practice in Second Language Acquisition.
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Mounford, A. (1981). The what, the why and the way, in Aupelf/Goethe Institut/British
Council (1), pp. 19-34.

Nunan, D. (1988). Syllabus Design. Oxford: OUP.

Nunan, D. (1996). Towards autonomous learning in Taking Control: Autonomy in
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University Press.

Robinson, P. (1991). ESP Today: A Practitioners Guide. Prentice Hall (UK) Ltd.

Swan, M. (April, 1985). A critical look at the Communicative Approach (2).
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Widdowson, H. G. (1981). English for specific purposes: Criteria for course design, in
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