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close this bookEnglish for Specific Purposes (ESP): Teaching English for Specific Purposes (Peace Corps, 1986, 110 p.)
close this folderChapter Four: Program design
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentSetting Goals
View the documentDesigning Units
View the documentPlanning Lessons

Setting Goals

Setting goals is the first step in the development of your instructional program. These goals will reflect what you intend for the students to be able to do with English at the end of your course of instruction. Identify relevant, concrete, and motivating goals appropriate for your students.

Setting goals for learning will become easier as you become more familiar with the institution and your students. Initially, you should recognize that your goals will be limited. Your students will not be able to achieve complete fluency in English in a semester- or year-long program. Your task is to specify just what goals are reasonable. For most year-long Peace Corps ESP programs, the following are reasonable goals:

· Students will be able to read and comprehend textbooks and research articles in their fields.
· Students will be able to understand short lectures in English in their technical fields.
· Students will be able to write short summaries of material they have read.
· Students will be able to locate resources for further information in their specialty area.
· Students will be able to ask questions to get information or clarify points.
· Students will be able to give short oral reports.

These goals encompass the skills needed for academic study in an ESP situation where students' needs for English are limited to reading and attending lectures in English. You may need to set different goals for students in other contexts. In formulating your goals, you will need to set priorities for the development of language skills, and in doing so it is useful to bear in mind that reception precedes production in language learning. In other words, students cannot learn to say or write something which they cannot understand. A manageable initial objective, then, is to improve the students' receptive competence; that is, their listening comprehension and reading skills. Listening comprehension is a must for the student who wishes to attend presentations or training in English and is a prerequisite for achieving oral fluency. A good speaker must first of all be a good listener. As a native speaker, you are in an excellent position to focus on developing students' comprehension of spoken English, which will give them the basis they need to develop skills in speaking and conversational interaction.

Development of conversational skills may be an unrealistic goal for most Peace Corps ESP courses, where large class size and varying levels of English proficiency make it impossible to provide each student with adequate practice in speaking. It may also be an unnecessary goal, since students' primary need for English will most likely be to gain access to information or training in English, tasks which rely less on speaking than on reading and listening. In you are teaching ESP for tourism, on the ocher hand, you may need to put a high priority focus on developing listening and speaking skills.

Having set long-term goals, you are ready to select materials and classroom exercises that lead to development of appropriate skills. The range of English abilities in your classroom will undoubtedly be large. The task you face is to design a program which challenges the more advanced students without intimidating and discouraging those whose English skills may be weak. You may also face the added challenge of large classes, few materials, and little equipment. The suggestions given here are designed to overcome those obstacles.