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Benefits of technology use in ESP

on Sat, 04/22/2017 - 17:44

Benefits of technology use in ESP

While each type of technology has its own specific advantages, it is worth listing

some of the general benefits of using it in ESP.

Technology-integrated English for Specific Purposes lessons | 93

Some benefits of technology in language learning are the same for ESP learners

as for general English learners. For example, finding native speakers as learning or

communication partners or reading or watching the news in the target language for

those who do not have easy access to these locally. In lessons, teachers can bring

the outside world into the classroom, provide authentic contexts in which English is

used, expose students to different varieties and accents of English, and give students

listening practice.

But, whereas in general English lessons even the teachers themselves can be a

valuable resource for listening, speaking and authentic language use, in many cases

technology, whether, for example, in the form of videos or on the internet, is the

only means for ESP students to access the specific language they need in order

to communicate appropriately. Butler-Pascoe (2009: 1) states that it is the ‘hybrid

nature of ESP’, having to teach both the language and the ‘field-specific content’ that

makes it challenging for teachers, who often do not have the field-specific knowledge

to teach. Although it is not usually the case that teachers also have to teach the

content, especially when teaching adult professionals, they do need to teach the

field-specific language, which they might not always know, and which changes and

develops over time.

When teaching professionals, the needs also go beyond the language itself; they also

require the use of authentic tasks, tools, and context (Bremner, 2010; Evans, 2012).

According to Butler-Pascoe (2009: 2), ‘at least three primary models exist for

delivering ESP instruction:

1. ESP taught by English teachers using field-specific content.

2. Field-specific courses taught by teachers in the disciplines using English as the

language of instruction.

3. A collaborative model in which both English and field-specific teachers have joint

input into the development and/or teaching of the course’

and ‘innovative uses of today’s technology’ can play an important role in all three.

Interestingly, Butler-Pascoe (2009) mentions that, besides being used for teaching

and learning ESP, the same technologies can also be used to help ESP teachers

communicate with each other and their students.

Butler-Pascoe (2009: 2–3) lists 14 advantages of technology for ESP, which she later

describes in more detail:

1. Provides interaction and communicative activities representative of specific

professional or academic environments.

2. Fosters understanding of the socio-cultural aspects of the language as practised

in various fields and professions.

3. Provides comprehensible field-specific input and facilitates student production.

4. Provides sheltering strategies for language development and content-specific

understanding (modelling, bridging to students’ background experiences,

contextualising, metacognitive activities, etc.).

5. Uses task-based and inquiry-based strategies reflective of tasks in disciplinespecific

settings and situations.

6. Uses authentic materials from specific disciplines and occupations.

7. Supplies authentic audiences, including outside experts in specific fields.

8. Supports cognitive abilities and critical thinking skills required in the disciplines.

9. Uses collaborative learning.

10. Facilitates focused practice for the development of reading, writing, listening,

and speaking skills across the curriculum and disciplines.

11. Is student-centred and addresses specific needs of students.

12. Uses multiple modalities to support different learning styles.

13. Meets affective needs of students: motivation, self-esteem, and autonomy.

14. Provides appropriate feedback and assessment of content knowledge and

English skills.