Are you an expert cook or gardener? Maybe a musician or history buff? There’s a new offshoot of teaching EFL that becoming a hot trend: teaching English for Special Purposes (ESP) and if you teach EFL, try to take advantage of this new opportunity.
What is ESP?
You’re probably already acquainted with Business English. Most likely it’s offered in your language school. And it’s very probable that you’ve taught business English or even specialize in it. Teaching ESP is like teaching business English: you use English to communicate in a specific field of interest, i.e., management, human resources, but with ESP it’s in any variety of fields that you have expertise in. This can range from archaeology to zoology, from baking to fishing. Many students have had enough of general English and would like to speak in English about a subject or hobby they like with others who are interested in the same thing.
Who is eligible to take an ESP course?
Eligibility will, of course, be decided by your school’s director of services. But students should be at least at a good intermediate level and above. The higher the skills in general English, the better. ESP courses are not a substitute for good general English courses; they are an adjunctive part of the curriculum. These classes usually take place in the early afternoon time slot.
Who is qualified to teach ESP courses?
The best qualifications are a combination of experience and skills in teaching intermediate and above EFL lessons and a passion for the subject you’re proposing. Keep in mind that you don’t have to be an expert in the subject, but have a good background. At this moment, I am planning a five-day course on ancient Egypt. I’ve been enthralled with ancient Egypt since childhood. I’ve read about it, visited Egypt, wrote about it. I would consider myself an educated amateur on ancient Egypt. I don’t have a degree in either Egyptology or archaeology, but I know enough to plan a course, focusing on speaking in English about this civilization.
Planning an ESP course
The most important thing, of course, is to get the backing and support of your language school’s director of services (DOS). Then once you get the go ahead, give the course a catchy title and write up a thorough but concise description of your course. Make sure, with the help of the DOS, that there’s a time slot available for your course. Next, find out out many hours your course will be. Usually, a course like this will be 7.5 hours per week–1.5 hours per day for five days. For each class, prepare twice as much material as you think you’ll need. It’s like any other course; it’s better to run out of time than material. Include different kinds of media–articles, music, video–just as you would with any general EFL course your would like to make interesting.
How to promote an ESP course
Here’s where your language school’s advertising and PR skills will come in handy. Make sure the school includes your course on its website and in its upcoming schedule. If you have your own blog or website, promote it there, also, if there’s no problem with the school’s regulations. Before you know it, you’ll have a waiting list of students clamoring to get into your course.
Ilene Springer lives in and teaches EFL in Malta. She is the author of An-American-in-Malta.com.