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Basics of learning english for occupational purposes

It is well known that the English language is a very popular language nowadays. Every day many people start to study English. More and more people want to communicate in this language. It is quite understandable-our world is changing, life requires new demands. To be successful we have to be communicative person. To get great opportunities we are to follow these demands. And one of these demands is learning English.

The history of the English language really started with the arrival of three Germanic tribes who invaded Britain during the 5th century AD. These tribes, the Angles, the Saxons and the Jutes, crossed the North Sea from what today is Denmark and northern Germany. At that time, the inhabitants of Britain spoke a Celtic language. But most of the Celtic speakers were pushed west and north by the invaders what is now Wales, Scotland and Ireland. The Angles came from England and their language was called Englisc from which the words England and English are derived [1]. We can distinguish some periods of English language development: Old English (450-1100 AD), Middle English (1100-1500),

Modern English (Early Modern English 15001800) and (Late Modern English 1800Present) [1]. The main difference between Early Modern English and Late Modern English is vocabulary. Late Modern English has words, arising from two principal factors: firstly, the Industrial Revolution and technology created a need for new words; secondly. Therefore we can see the long process of its development. So many changes, so many discoveries can be described during these periods. Within its development, the word-stock is enriched by a great number of words, which can be used in different spheres of our life. For example in industry, we have its own terms and phrases. Sometimes it is seems difficult to remember these words but for professionals it is quite easy to do.

Now we want you to know about some smart points, which are in the Address of the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, to the People of Kazakhstan, January 28, 2011: “I have always said that knowledge of three languages is an obligatory condition of one’s wellbeing. Therefore, I believe that by 2020 a share of our population speaking English should be no less than 20 percent” [2]. So on the basis of the President’s address people should tend to learn languages for the sake of our feature. People should understand the importance of knowledge and its power. Language can provide us with a high style of life, good mental abilities with an opportunity to communicate with people of different cultures.

In schools and in Universities children and students learn English and it is their first step to language learning. But the problem is that this process is a very generic. People can touch only the surface of a huge “sea” of words, phrases and terms. Having finished a university students possess only some general understanding of the language. They find jobs concerning their profession (for example an interpreter) and their first working day is awful! Why it happens it is easy to guess for you. Our universities can give a general language program. Those who work hard and try to remember everything explained at the University, nevertheless usually fail their first “week” of the job.

Well, it can be a real and a serious problem which can be faced by all the students of language departments. Exactly after finishing University young people do not know how to improve the situation. They think they know everything but it is not like it seems.

We can say that the problem of our educational -is a short time and a huge volume of information. Students must for a short period of time become good professionals, but it is impossible, unfortunately.

One of the ways to improve the situation is learning English for occupational purposes. We shall try to explain this idea.

From the early 1960's, English for Specific Purposes (ESP) became one of the most prominent areas of EFL (English as a Foreign Language) teaching today. Its development is reflected in the increasing number of universities offering an MA in ESP and in the number of ESP courses offered to foreign students in English speaking countries. In Japan too, the ESP movement has shown a slow but definite growth over the past few years. Especially, increased interest has been spurred as a result of the Mombusho's decision in 1994 to largely hand over control of university curriculums to the universities themselves. This has led to a quick growth in English courses aimed at specific disciplines, e.g. English for Doctors, in place of the more traditional 'General English' courses. Finally, on November 8th in 1996 the ESP community came together as a whole at the first Japan Conference on English for Specific Purposes, held on the campus of Aizu University, Fukushima Prefecture [3].

A very heated debate took place on the TESP-L e-mail discussion list about whether or not English for Academic Purposes (EAP) could be considered part of ESP in general. At the Japan Conference on ESP also, clear differences in how people interpreted the meaning of ESP could be seen. Some people described ESP as simply being the teaching of English for any purpose that could be specified. Others describe it as the teaching of English used in academic studies or the teaching of English for vocational or professional purposes. At the conference, guests were honored to have as the main speaker, Tony DudleyEvans, co-editor of the ESP Journal mentioned above. Very aware of the current confusion amongst the ESP community in Japan, Dudley-Evans set out in his report to clarify the meaning of ESP, giving an extended definition of ESP in terms of 'absolute' and 'variable' characteristics (see below) .

Let us see the Definition of ESP (Dudley-Evans, 1997) [4]:

Absolute Characteristics:

  1. ESP is defined to meet specific needs of the learners.
  2. ESP makes use of underlying methodology and activities of the discipline it serves.
  3. ESP concentrates on the language appropriate to these activities in terms of grammar, study skills, lexis, discourse and genre.

Variable Characteristics:

  1. ESP may be related to or designed for specific disciplines.
  2. ESP may use, in specific teaching situations, a different methodology from that of General English.
  3. ESP is likely to be designed for adult learners, either at a tertiary level institution or in a professional work situation. It could be for learners at secondary school level.
  4. ESP is generally designed for intermediate or advanced students.
  5. Most ESP courses assume some basic knowledge of the language systems.

The definition Dudley-Evans offers is clearly influenced by that of Strevens (1988) [5], although he has improved it substantially by removing the absolute characteristic that ESP is "in contrast with 'General English'" (Johns et al.1991: 298), and has included more variable characteristics. The division of ESP into absolute and variable characteristics, in particular, is very helpful in resolving arguments about what is and is not ESP. From the definition, we can see that ESP can but is not necessarily concerned with a specific discipline, nor does it have to be aimed at a certain age group or ability range. ESP should be seen simple as an 'approach' to teaching, or what Dudley-Evans describes as an 'attitude of mind'. This is a similar conclusion to that made by Hutchinson et al. (1987:19) who state, "ESP is an approach to language teaching in which all decisions as to content and method are based on the learner's reason for learning"[6]. If we agree with this definition, we begin to see how broad ESP really is. In actual fact, one may ask 'What is the difference between the ESP and General English approach?' Hutchinson (1987:53) answers this quite simply, "in theory nothing, in practice a great deal" [6]. When their book was written, of course, the last statement was quite true. At the time, teachers of General English courses, while acknowledging that students had a specific purpose for studying English, would rarely conduct a needs analysis to find out what was necessary to actually achieve it. Teachers nowadays, however, are much more aware of the importance of needs analysis, and certainly materials writers think very carefully about the goals of learners at all stages of materials production. Perhaps this reflects the influence that the ESP approach has had on English teaching in general. Clearly the line between where General English courses stop and ESP courses start has become very vague indeed. Rather ironically, while many General English teachers can be described as using an ESP approach, basing their syllabi on a learner needs analysis and their own specialist knowledge of using English for real communication, it is the majority of so-called ESP teachers that are using an approach furthest from that described above. Instead of conducting interviews with specialists in the field, analyzing the language that is required in the profession, or even conducting students' needs analysis, many ESP teachers have become slaves of the published textbooks available, unable to evaluate their suitability based on personal experience, and unwilling to do the necessary analysis of difficult specialist texts to verify their contents.

So now it is necessary to return to the Kazakhstan President’s Address regarding development of the country. The main aim of Kazakhstan is to become a developed country. To reach this goal it is necessary to involve foreign investors to this process. As we know, Kazakhstan is a leading country in the sphere of industry. Our President involves foreign specialists to improve and to develop industrial production. On the assumption of this we need more skilled specialists (for example interpreters) to provide opportunities for clear communication and understanding between representatives of different cultures. For instance, Kazakhstan’s specialists who were taught by the foreigners (Germans, Americans etc.) during starting of copper plant, “New Metallurgy project” (I worked that time at the construction site as an interpreter), was carried out by means of professional interpreters who were aware in the sphere of metallurgy. It helped to avoid misunderstanding between metallurgists.

Therefore, we can say that we need more language specialists skilled in a certain sphere of production. Educational program at the Universities should be oriented towards needs of the regions. Including demands of East Kazakhstan Oblast, we need more language skilled interpreters in the sphere of nonferrous metallurgy.

The most important difference lies in the learners and their purposes for learning English. One can add to it by saying that ESP concentrates more on language in context than on teaching grammar and language structures. It covers subjects varying from accounting or computer science to tourism and business management. In some cases, people with inadequate proficiency in English need to be taught to handle specific jobs. In such cases English is taught for specific purposes so that the concerned employees can perform their job requirements efficiently.

However, English for Specific Purposes (ESP) has a wide scope and superimposes other nomenclatures such as EOP and EAP. An article on ESP available on the Internet says: ESP (English for Specific Purposes) course aims are determined by the needs of a specific group of learners. ESP is often divided into EAP (English for Academic Purposes) and EOP (English for Occupational Purposes). Further sub-divisions of EOP are sometimes made into business English, professional English (e.g. English for doctors, lawyers) and vocational English [7] (e.g. English for tourism, aviation).

In conclusion, we can say that English words have various meanings, depending on the context where they’re used. English for occupational purposes identifies that problem and teaches the appropriate use of the word for a specific occupation or industry. English for Occupation Purposes courses narrow down the broad definitions of word usage to those necessary for the industry. By doing this, it cuts the time necessary to learn the language necessary for the job.

Generally, courses of English for occupation purposes are developed to give participants sufficient input and practice in basic report writing so that they would be able to undertake and perform similar tasks effectively in their workplace. Special attention is given to the steps involved in the preparation of a job.

When a company operating in English employs professionals for whom English is a second language, the company is obliged to provide language training for its employees. Otherwise, many of its labor, some in main posts, may be handicapped by poor speaking or writing skill. However, the company is not interested in its employees achieving fluency or advanced level, though this can be desirable. The main concern of the company is that communication for the purposes of job performance is effective.

Some examples: a switchboard operator who is fluent in spoken English is, of course, ideal for this post. However, a non-native speaker with such level of English would not accept the job of a switchboard operator. Most probably, the job will attract some school leavers with some spoken language. However, they need to attend language classes before they start the job. The training need here is to develop the listening and speaking skills that will enable them to answer the phone, offer help, connect the caller or say why he cannot and offer to take a message. These are the minimum requirements of the job. In a threeweek training course the operators will be able to do this. Yet they will frustrate when some callers use unfamiliar expressions and vocabulary.

In other words, the company is responsible for training the employees to do their jobs not to read English newspapers and write articles there. This nature of the type of language skills required in the different jobs make 'English for Occupational Purposes' training. An engineer who is required to write 'Technical Reports' can develop the skill for example by attending a six-week part-time course. However, he may find it difficult to socialize with native speakers in the social events of the company. Nevertheless, unless it is part of his job to receive and entertain visitors, the company is not interested in developing his language skills in this area.

Any training including language training should be based on an accurate process of identifying training needs and should be designed and implemented by a language specialist well informed in ESP/EOP and language training [8].



  1. Robert Mc Crum, William Cran, and Robert Mac Neil. The story of English. Published in Penguin Books., 1993.-394 p.
  2. Address of the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, to the People of Kazakhstan, January 28, 2011.
  3. Laurence Anthony. English for Specific Purposes. What does it mean? Why is it different? Okayama University of Science.
  4. Dudley-Evans, Tony (1998). Developments in English for Specific Purposes: A multidisciplinary approach. Cambridge University Press. (Forthcoming).
  5. Strevens, P. (1988). ESP after twenty years: A re-appraisal. In M. Tickoo (Ed.), ESP: State of the art (1-13). SEAMEO Regional Language Centre.
  6. Hutchinson, Tom & Waters, Alan (1987). English for Specific Purposes: A learnercentered approach. Cambridge University Press.
  7. Rahman, T. (2000). Language Ideology and Power. Karachi: Oxford University Press.
  8. WebSources:http://hussain1944. xomba. com/

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Philology is the study of language in oral and written historical sources; it is the intersection between textual criticism, literary criticism, history, and linguistics.[

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