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Challenges and Conclusions

on Sat, 04/22/2017 - 16:25


Challenges of technology use in ESP

Teachers and institutions that integrate technology into their ESP courses can

face multiple other challenges (Felix, 2005; Krajka, 2003; White, 2007) such as:

■■ issues of accessibility, availability and reliability of the technology

■■ the need for one-off and ongoing teacher and learner training

■■ varying levels of tech-savviness of teachers and learners

■■ time and resources needed to create technology-integrated courses

■■ the need for new ways of managing classes in which technology is used, including

how to deal with technical problems during lessons

■■ having to adapt to the changing roles of teachers as well as learners, particularly

in online courses, etc.

These issues need to be thought through carefully to enable a smooth and successful

integration of technology and ensure that teachers as well as students will accept

the use of the technology as a valuable addition to their ESP course, rather than a

distraction from the real purpose, which is learning the target language.


Whether they like technology or not, ESP teachers today cannot afford not to

integrate technology into their courses, because technology plays an essential role

in their learners’ everyday professional lives, in which they need digital and electronic

literacy skills to communicate internationally across cultural borders using different

media, and to become autonomous learners who can keep up with the fast-paced

professional world.

Teachers who like technology and feel comfortable using it, will keep up with

the latest developments and often readily adopt and experiment with various

technologies in their teaching, whether offline or online. Sometimes, they are

criticised by more techno-critical educators for unnecessarily using technology

without having a proof for their effectiveness in helping students learn better or

faster. Kohn and Hoffstaedter (2008 in Levy, 2009: 779) describe this as the ‘caravan

effect’, metaphorically comparing technophiles to travellers who stop briefly to drink

from a waterhole, by which they mean the latest technology, and then move on to the

next waterhole, and so on.

112 | Technology-integrated English for Specific Purposes lessons

ESP teachers might be less prone to this because they generally focus more on their

learners’ needs and are more aware of the limited time and busy schedules they

have. Even if they were not, their students would most probably be reluctant to use

technologies they would see as a waste of time or too difficult to use. Therefore,

ESP teachers will mostly practise what Chapelle (2003: 9) suggests: a ‘critical,

technologically-informed pragmatism.’ In ESP, as we can see from the case studies,

the reason for using technology is not only or always because it makes learning the

language more effective or efficient, but also because it can offer tools that simulate

real life work situations, while giving students the opportunity to acquire and practise

essential 21st century professional skills.