|English for Specific Purposes (ESP): Teaching English for Specific Purposes (Peace Corps, 1986, 110 p.)|
|Chapter Four: Program design|
It is impractical to think of designing your entire semester or year-long ESP program in advance. It is impossible, at the beginning of the course, for you to know how quickly students will progress. Instead, try to outline one or two units of instruction before classes begin and then be flexible in adapting or modifying your program as you get to know the students better. As you become better acquainted with the resources of the institution and the backgrounds of the students, you will also become aware of other ways to enrich your program.
A unit can be developed by identifying a major theme, selecting a topic and an appropriate text, and setting appropriate instructional objectives. Activities can then be selected to develop the skills you have identified as needed by the students.
Theme is a general organizational concept. Build your course around a theme or series of themes, rather than choosing different topics at random. In a course in English for Economics, for example, your general theme might be price policies, and your topics selected from that area of economics.
2. Topic is a convenient unit of syllabus organization. English is learned best in context, and the topics you choose will provide a context for learning. For computer science, in a unit whose theme is hardware and software, a list of topics might include the following:
1. Mainframes, minicomputers, and microcomputers
2. Computer capabilities and limitations
3. Computer components: the processor, memory, input and output devices.
1. Word processing
2. Data processing
The topics of interest and importance to your students can be identified from your interviews with the subjectarea instructors at your institution. Ideally, you can make your English instruction parallel to what the students are learning in their content courses for maximum transfer of knowledge and skills.
3. Texts which address your chosen topic should be selected with the students' needs in mind. Select one or more reading passages concerned with each topic you have chosen. Try to select readings and topics which build on each other and develop common vocabulary. The passages can be taken from commercial ESL or ESP textbooks relevant to the content area, or from authentic content-area materials such as research papers or textbooks. Guidelines for choosing texts of appropriate difficulty are provided in Chapter Five.
The reading passage serves as the unit core from which classroom activities and exercises are developed. Vocabulary, listening comprehension exercises, and grammar and writing exercises can be based on the reading selection chosen for each unit. The length of the passage will depend on your assessment of students' abilities, but it should be long enough to provide opportunities for practicing intensive reading and for increasing reading speed through extensive reading. Appropriate use of any text, of course, will depend on the skills that your students need to develop.
Objectives: Following your selection of topics and readings, appropriate objectives for instruction should be identified. Not only do YOU need to know the skills that you plan to teach in each unit, but your students will also benefit from knowledge of what your objectives are. Objectives should be written for each unit of instruction to address the specific skills that you want to develop in your students. Examples of broad objectives for the development of language skills are provided in Chapter Three; these can be used as references in writing specific objectives for each unit.
A spiral concept of program design is recommended. Such a design calls for "recycling" of materials to provide review and reinforcement of vocabulary and structures covered in earlier units. For example, the same text can be used to teach the four skills by using it one week for reading activities, another week for listening activities, and the using it again later in the program for writing or speaking activities.