Far from being at the end, we are at a turning point
in the history of both the English language and the world;
that the world in which English has become so important
is in a state of major transition – in terms of economic relations,
of structures of government, of technological progress,
and in the way social identities are constructed and maintained.
…If we are in the middle of the story, so many different endings –
or at least next chapters – seem possible.
(David Graddol 1999:5)
Nearly all teachers of ESP find themselves involved in materials writing
sooner or later, because textbooks are seldom written with a particular
group in mind. ESP materials focus on aspects of English specific to the
subject area. While producing our own materials, we should check that ESP
materials meet target needs and that the language taught matches the language
that the students will use. Besides we should put emphasis on the development
of specific skills and strategies for operating in the ESP context.
Project work approach fits comfortably within TESP since it responds to the learners’ specific purposes, the students operate in the target language, it is activity and research based, multi-skilled (develops linguistic & research skills), involves learners in both individual and group work, uses authentic material, is set up in collaboration with subject teachers. It provides an opportunity for real world and classroom experience to overlap, gives learners a feeling of achievement. Besides project can also encourage positive classroom behaviours such as co-operation, enjoyment, motivation and interest. It can be an elegant culmination of the ESP course.
Here is described a project which have been carried out by the students of International Relations of the Belarusian State University.
Introduction of parameters of the project
Intermediate to Advanced
Age Junior students
Time 20 hours over 8 weeks
- to define some qualifications desirable in members of the Foreign
Service/Ministry of Foreign Affairs;
- to compare the work in the Foreign Office/MFA with the work abroad;
- to learn about the diplomatic etiquette on public occasions;
- to read, analyse and write a letter of credence, a letter of recall;
- to encourage an awareness of language problems in diplomatic intercourse;
- to establish a working rapport with university lecturers or acquire contacts with diplomatists;
- to collect printed and visual materials from the media in various languages in addition to English;
- to conduct interviews and organise meetings with professionals;
- to exercise note-taking;
- to provide an opportunity for audio or video recording;
- to design questionnaires;
- to make oral presentation and reporting or to produce a video display;
All four skills (speaking, listening, reading, writing) and a whole range of sub-skills are integrated towards one objective.
Speaking skills: discussion, negotiation, information seeking,
conversational formulas, conducting interviews or surveys, oral presentation
Listening skills: listening to video and audio materials for detail, for specific information or gist, transferring and summarising information, outside speakers questions and answers, listening to each group’s presentation
Reading skills: skimming, scanning, sequencing, briefing/making summaries, inferencing, critical reading, finding additional reference materials
Writing skills: note-taking, formal letters of invitation, appointments, recording information from interviews, questionnaire design, using sources & organising, written presentation of the project
Interview techniques: active listening (combining both hearing and processing), summarising, and asking open questions; sub-skills – interrupting, repeating, eliciting, probing, concluding
Presentation skills: Voice: speed, loudness, variation, pausing, clarity of intonation and pronunciation; Body language: appropriateness of gestures and movements, firm stance, smile; Visuals: introduction to, relevance of, pin-pointing reason for, few words in and not reading them aloud; Structure: introduction, purpose, logical points, time, what is to come, summary, recommendations, powerful end; Language: no major misunderstandings, as appropriate and varied as reasonable; Overall Impact: impression of confidence, message come across, listeners included and not bored (Dudley-Evans & St John, 1998:269).
Equipment: audio recording equipment (optional); video camera and film (optional); printed or visual materials
1. Select, modify and provide paper-based materials (magazines, books,
text-books, newspapers, brochures etc.), for the students to read, discuss,
collate and refer to. Note down relevant film, video or audio programmes,
which may be useful. Later you can use learner-generated material.
2. Invite a guest speaker or another group of students for debate or a discussion, a seminar, or a workshop session (if you have access to video or audio-recording equipment you may record some parts for further classroom discussion of specific language items).
3. Make use of role play, information-gap, simulation exercises in the classroom during the preparatory stages of the project.
Note: The students’ motivation and interest determine the success of a project. On the day you actually start work on the project, it is essential to try to capture the students’ imagination immediately. This might be with something like a video, a meeting with a professional, an interesting story which provokes the desire to respond by talking, writing, acting out, or in some other way. That is why the key words, especially at the initial stages of the project, will be ‘to suggest’, ‘negotiate’, ‘encourage’, ‘inspire’, ‘involve’, ‘stimulate’, and ‘get positive reaction’.
The structure of a project can be shown in the following sequence (Shalom
Project production drafting outline discussion topic selection
The starting point has to be the choice of topics. Find out what questions
about diplomatists and diplomatic practice in general correspond to the
interest of the learners. In collaboration with them discuss what issues
they would like to explore in more depth. In my experience the chosen topics
of interest were:
· The qualifications desirable in diplomatists (members of the Foreign Service)
· Diplomatic ethics and etiquette on public occasions
· The duties of a diplomat abroad
· Language problems in diplomatic intercourse
During the next four weeks the topics are discussed. Here I will describe
only some approaches which have been tried and have proved to be
· Ask your students, as a homework task, to define the notions diplomacy, diplomat or diplomatist consulting some dictionaries and making use of quotations (some of them can be disputable), e.g
Diplomat – is a government official, usually in an embassy,
with another country on behalf of his or her country.
BBC English Dictionary
Diplomacy - is the management of international relations by
negotiation; the method
by which these relations are adjusted and managed by ambassadors and envoys;
or art of the diplomatist.
Oxford English Dictionary
Diplomacy is to do and to say the nastiest thing in the nicest way
The worst kind of diplomatists are missionaries, fanatics & layers;
the best kind are the reasonable & human sceptics. Thus it is not religion
which has been the main formative influence in diplomatic theory; it is
Sir Harold Nicolson (British diplomatist, author, critic, & journalist; 1886-1968)
Diplomacy – is the conduct of relations between nation-states
through their accredited officials
for the purpose of advancing the interests of the appointing state.
Peter A.Toma, Robert F.Gorman
Amateur diplomatists are prone to prove unreliable. It is
not merely that their
lack of knowledge & experience may be of disadvantage to their governments, it is that
the amateur diplomatist is apt out of vanity and owning to shortness of his tenure
to seek for rapid successes;…that he has not acquired the humane and tolerant
disbelief which is the product of a long diplomatic career and is often assailed by
convictions, sympathies, even impulses; that he may cause offence when he wishes
only to inspire geniality; and that in his reports and despatches he may seek rather
to display his own acumen and literary brilliance than to provide his government
with a careful and sensible balance-sheet of facts.
Sir Harold Nicolson
· Encourage a brain-storming session on the questions – what personal and professional qualities and attainments a contemporary diplomatist needs for a job; and what qualities the would-be candidate for the diplomatic career shouldn’t possess. Don’t push your students to give the answers immediately. They have to think it over. Either you or one of your students can write the suggested qualities and ideas on the blackboard. You can read or hang some quotations on the blackboard to stimulate a discussion, e.g.
He [the ambassador] must regard himself as an economist, a
commercial traveller, an advertising agent for his country; he wields the
weapon of culture for political ends; he promotes scientific and technical
exchanges and administers development aid. He cannot wholly detach himself
from the technicalities and personal inconveniences which accompany the
battle for intelligence. He must concern himself with the relations not
only governments, but also of politicians, scientists, musicians, dancers,
actors, authors, footballers, trade unions and even women and youth, these
two new technical professions in the modern world. But he continues to
have a basic political job to negotiate with the other government and to
keep his own government informed about anything in the country to which
he is accredited which affects his country’s interests.
Ambassador is an honest man sent to lie abroad for the
good of his country.
Sir Henry Wotton, 1604
In a word, the ambassador is out of the serious play. He is
rarely viewed as the best channel of communication with the head of government,
he is not charged with the critical negotiating tasks, he is subordinated
to visiting Washington officials & negotiating experts (visitors would
be amazed if he had the temerity to offer substantive views), & - to
make the message unmistakably clear – his expected duties are those of
Ambassador J.Robert Schaetzel
The good British diplomatist is tolerant and fair; he acquires
a fine balance between imagination and reason, between idealism and realism;
he is reliable and scrupulously precise; he possesses dignity without self-importance,
demeanour without mannerism, poise without stolidity; he can display resolution
as well as flexibility, and can combine gentleness with courage; he never
boasts; he knows that impatience is as dangerous as ill-temper and that
intellectual brilliance is not a diplomatic quality; he knows above all
that it is his duty to interpret policy of his government with loyalty
and common sense and that the foundation of good diplomacy is the same
as the foundation of good business – namely credit, confidence, consideration
Sir Harold Nicolson
· Bring to the class some materials, handouts on the topic in question for the students to skim, take notes and exchange with another group of students. Information can be set up in the form of a table, e.g.
Attributes needed in a diplomat: accuracy, courage , dignity, warm heart, accuracy courage, dignity, warm heart, logic, charisma, good manners, industry,good temper, prudence, initiative personality, intelligence, tact, loyalty, charm, modesty, discernment, patience, hospitality, reliability, retentive memory, self-confidence, versatility and adaptability, sense of humour integrity,truthfulness, knowledge, unruffled calm, linguistic proficiency;
Attributes a diplomatist should refrain from displaying:coldness,
gesticulation, domineering manners , air of superiority, snobbishness, poker face,rush decisions, starchiness and pomposity, cynicism, emotional effusiveness, high gloss,
lack of linguistic proficiency, heartiness and bluff bonhomie, deception, disloyalty,
oppressive display of intellectual powers.
Note: Your students may object and attribute some qualities, considered in some sources as negative, to positive and vice versa, e.g. they can claim that a certain capacity for deception is needed in a diplomatist and a poker face isn’t always out of place in diplomacy. Don’t worry if your students sometimes object and criticise. Provide a willing ear or encourage a debate. At least open discussion generates spontaneous language practice.
Ethics and Etiquette on Public Occasions’ you can conduct a class
survey to find out whether your students know the rules of precedence
amongst Ambassadors and foreign Ministers, the etiquette which should be
followed when members of the Diplomatic Corps are entertained, introduced
etc., i.e. diplomatic protocol. You can speak with your students about
the image and appearance of an ideal diplomat/woman president.
Language of gestures, poses and facial expressions can be a productive topic for discussion.
The initial stage of the project on the topic ‘The Duties of a Diplomat Abroad’ may benefit from a visit to an international organisation, or a diplomatist coming in to talk to the students. You can initiate a discussion about diplomatic spouses who interrupt or sacrifice their own careers by repeatedly being sent abroad. Tell your students about the Diplomatic Family Service Association, part funded by and housed in the Foreign Office, which has been fighting for some kind of spouse compensation package or allowance based on loss of earnings and pension rights.
As a practical example read, analyse and teach your students to write a letter of credence, a letter of recall.
Many aspects of linguistic difficulties encountered in diplomatic intercourse can be discussed when you come to the question of ‘Language problems in diplomatic intercourse’. Here are some problems confronted in diplomatic life: a great number of official languages in use; differences in the ‘language convention’ between nations supposedly speaking the same language (BrE, AmE and other major varieties Can, Aus, NZ, SA English); different connotations; difficulty and technicality of subjects. Humour, quotations, references and proverbs are some of the most difficult things to convey in another languages. You may practise with the students two types of interpretation, the so-called consecutive and simultaneous interpretation; encourage a discussion of the necessary qualifications and qualities of a good interpreter. You can read with your students about language learning in the Foreign Office and revise nationality words.
· After the content and scope of the project have been negotiated
and students have divided into teams, they move out of the classroom to
conduct and record interviews, to gather printed and visual information
and then transform it into spoken and written format. A healthy rivalry
can take place.
· An individual or a team can approach their task from a different angel. In my experience one female student who was working on the topic “Diplomatic Ethics and Etiquette on Public Occasions” made a wonderful performance about the image of a business woman pursuing diplomatic career. Her idea was so fresh and new that everyone listened to her presentation with a genuine interest.
· At this stage you should act as a monitor, who keeps track of what the students are doing and helps them to deal with difficulties. Make sure that everyone is involved.
· Draw up a detailed (but flexible) timetable.
1. Your students may prefer to present the results of their work to
each other in the classroom. But offer them a challenge to invite university
authorities and inform other teachers about the presentation, or encourage
them to organise a debate or forum with their fellow students. If applicable,
you may record the students’ presentations for analysis, etc. It will be
a valuable material for your further work.
2. Alternatively, if you have a fairly ambitious group, together with the students you may decide to contact the media and try to gain publicity through newspapers, magazines, radio, and television.
3. Written practice can also be based on the students’ research and can be tackled in a variety of ways - from the formal report, to seminar or broadsheet/poster presentation, booklet, chart, newspaper article or memorandum to students of international relations.
4. It is very important to evaluate the students’ work. You can design a certificate for successful performance of the project. Your students would appreciate if you and your invitees add to the formal certificate your personal observations, words of praise and comments about the work and presentation of each team and individual.
1. First of all I can report that all materials used on the project
were relevant to, and of interest to, the students.
2. Topic and material selection was determined by a process of continuing negotiation between teacher and learners.
3. Communicative approach was used in the classroom.
4. Various teaching-learning techniques were applied: whole group, small-group work, pair and individual work.
5. Medium: text, video/audio sources, speech.
6. Materials used in the project work contained many exercise, activity or tasks in the various skills: information/opinion gap, information transfer, ranking, problem solving, role plays, language games, simulation exercises, etc.
7. Skills and sub-skills were integrated: reading, listening, writing, speaking, interview techniques, presentation skills.
In general the project came as a pleasant surprise for specific-purpose learners, namely international relations students. They realised that the teacher was interested in their particular needs and was prepared to go to some trouble to explore the complicated subject area of international relations.
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2. Dudley-Evans T., St John M. J., Developments in English for Specific Purposes, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998
3. Dickie J., Inside the Foreign Office, Chapmans Publishers, 1992
4. Fried-Booth, D.L., Project work, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986
5. Graddol D., ‘What will English look like in 2050?’ in IATEFL, Issues 149/6-7, 1999
6. Hill D., Projects. English Teaching professional, 13/10, 1999
7. Hutchinson T., Waters A., English for Specific Purposes, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987
8. Shalom C., ‘Poster Presentation on the Pre-sessional EAP Course’ in Evaluation and Course Design in EAP, Volume 6/1, 1996
9. Toma P. A., Gorman R. F., International Relations: Understanding Global Issues, Brooks/Cole Publishing Company, Pacific Grove, California, 1991
10. West R., ESP Module Units 0,1,2,3,9, School of Education, The University of Manchester, 1992