Developing an English for Approach: A Russian ExSpecific Purposes Course Using a Learner Centeredperience
Pavel V. Sysoyev
sysoyev [at] pvs.tambov.ru
The Tambov State University (Russia)
English for Specific Purposes (ESP) is a young and developing branch of EFL in Russia. As T. Nazarova (1996) shows, for many years ESP instruction was limited to training special lexicon and translating numerous texts. Of course, such methods did not reflect students' interests and resulted in low learner motivation and poor participation. With the spread of the student-centered approach in Russia and the continued increase of international contacts in various spheres, much attention has been paid to the design of ESP courses that can prepare students for professional communication. However, developing new courses along such lines raises the issue of training teachers. Designing a course that can best serve learners' interests and needs is an obstacle for many instructors. How can teachers develop a new course? Where should they start? What can be done about students' poor motivation? How should teaching materials be selected? These are some of the questions that are often asked by many teachers. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to suggest a framework for an ESP course-development process that will help teachers with some of the problems they may come across in designing a new ESP course.
Selecting and Developing ESP Materials
For many teachers, selection of teaching materials is based on their availability. Furthermore, chosen materials determine the content of the course. Quite often it serves as a justification and explanation of the use of the same syllabus with different students. In student-centered instruction, the appropriateness of materials includes student comfort and familiarity with the material, language level, interest, and relevance.
However, in some situations teachers are dependent on the materials and are required to use the same textbook over and over again. Potentially there is nothing bad in using the same teaching materials, if everything is conceptualized through a learner-centered approach. The same article or audio story can be used for developing reading or listening comprehension skills, cultural awareness, expanding vocabulary, etc. Thus, as K. Graves points out, teaching materials are "tools that can be figuratively cut up into component pieces and then rearranged to suite the needs, abilities, and interests of the students in the course (Graves K., 1996: 27).
. Course Planning
After formulating major objectives and choosing teaching material, many teachers start planning a new course. There may be different ways of organizing activities. In CLT the following pattern is traditionally used: "pre-activity ? activity ? follow up". Teachers start with what students already know or with a fairly simple task, and then pass to more complex activities. Another approach to "recycling" materials has recently become quite popular. Students learn information about the L2 country and then recycle it in the activity about the L1 country. In this way, the "Dialogue of Cultures" principle is achieved. It is recommended that teachers be flexible in course planning, i.e. that they be ready adjust the syllabus and make slight changes in the course while teaching, so that they can best address students interests and needs.