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Business English, Professional English, Legal English, Medical English, Academic English etc.
Online peer-reviewed Journal for Teachers

English for Specific Purposes World (ESP World)

English for Specific Purposes World

ISSN 1682-3257

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Evaluation of an English for Specific Purposes (ESP) Book for Students of Islamic and Arabic Studies

Ayah T. El-Sakran


The English language teaching bookstore contains countless textbooks for the teaching of English as a foreign (TEFL) or second language (ESL). To evaluate them, several EFL experts conduct textbook evaluations to inform professionals in the ELT field about their strengths and weaknesses, and to offer ways for improvement. Since the textbook chosen is an English for Specific Purposes (ESP) textbook, it is in order to give some background on ESP. ESP has become a prominent area of EFL teaching. Its development is reflected in the uncountable ESP textbooks in use all over the world. Dudley-Evans and St John (1998, p. 4-5) characterize ESP in terms of absolute and variable characteristics as shown below.

     Absolute Characteristics mean that ESP meets specific learners' needs, uses "underlying methodology and activities of the discipline it serves" (Dudley-Evans and St John, 1998, p.4) and is centered on language appropriate to these activities in terms of "grammar, lexis, register, skills, discourse and genre" (p. 5). Variable Characteristics mean that ESP may be designed for specific disciplines, may use "a different methodology from that of general English likely to be designed for adult learners, either at a tertiary level or in a professional work situation" (p.5) and assumes some "basic knowledge of the language system" (p. 5). This movement has led to the production and use of English courses aimed at specific disciplines; for example, English for Medicine, English for Engineering, English for Business, etc. in place of the more traditional 'General English' courses.

Hutchinson and Waters (1987, p.19) argue that 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.

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[1] An earlier version of this article was submitted to the School of Languages at the University of Salford as an assignment to the Materials Evaluation and Adaptation module.


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