Teaching English for Special Purposes in the EFL Classroom
1. Play the video below to start this lesson.
. . Please wait a few seconds for the video to load
2. Basic Concepts
When transitioning to a career in TEFL, many people forget that they have lots of experience or education in a specialized area. Rather than starting at the bottom rung in TEFL, consider finding your own special niche where you can probably make more money, do a better job and enjoy yourself more. Teaching these specialized areas of English is often called Teaching English for Special Purposes or ESP.
For example, many people from Information Technology (IT) careers come to TEFL. Their best job strategy would be to seek an English teaching position at a college or university that has an IT specialty. Most occupational specialties in foreign countries need English training. They need it either for university study and papers, research (most international research is published in English) or to run a business.
If you have a background in a special area, it is in your best interest to use it. You will know the specialized vocabulary of the business and how the business works and you will even have an interest in the business that other teachers won’t have. This makes you ideal to teach in that special niche.
Consider nursing, aviation training, business and marketing, chemicals, general medicine, engineering, hospitality, IT, law, construction technology and every other possible major at a university or college. If you have such skill/knowledge, it would be well worth your time to seek employment in that area. DON’T go to the English department of a college or university. Go to the department of your specialty and have them recommend you to the English department. You WILL be in demand.
If you have not already read our page on Teaching Business English, read it now. Download and read the needs analysis worksheet on that page. You can use and adapt those pages to any form of ESP. A thorough needs analysis is the key to your success.
3. Expanded Concepts
A few examples of niche employment that some employers are looking for are Hospitality English and Business English. Lots of people have previous work experience either in a business or in a hotel or restaurant or tourism setting.
Here’s the difference:
Teach a few reception desk staff in an air conditioned classroom at a 5-star resort on a tropical island or 50 screaming kids in a hot classroom! Teach a small class of businesspeople in a conference room at corporate headquarters or back to the screaming kindergarteners! It’s up to you. ESP has its advantages! Teaching English for Special Purposes has its place.
There is nothing wrong with kindie kids. They are wonderful to teach, but often more mature teachers prefer a slightly more sedate setting.