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ESP faculty develops specialized teaching materials

ImageEnglish can be a major hurdle for international students studying in the U.S. As challenging as conversational English can be, imagine the challenge of acquiring a specialized vocabulary needed in a field as dynamic as criminal justice.

Understanding and communicating in English is not just a matter of academics for Saudi participants in ONU’s Prison Management Certificate Program (PMCP), says Umar Sulayman, director of ONU’s English for Specific Purposes (ESP). It’s a matter of safety, because the prison management students take part in an internship in an Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections facility or in a community treatment facility.

To be certain they are prepared, ONU’s ESP faculty: Sulayman, director of ESP and English as a Second Language (ESL) lecturer for the Prison Management Certificate Program, Zebo Abduvakhabova, ESP reading instructor, Shauna McMillan, ESP listening/speaking instructor, and Bethany Daft, ESL teacher for Ada schools, have been developing specialized materials to prepare students for real-world application of their classroom work with the support of ONU’s Office of Academic Affairs and Provost David Crago.

Their work was showcased in two presentations at the Ohio TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) conference, held Nov. 9 in Columbus, Ohio. Titled “ESP: Restoring Content in ESL Programs,” and “From ESL to ESP: Overcoming Barriers,” the presentations were made by Abduvakhabova, Sulayman and McMillan. They were also invited to present their work March 21 at the TESOL 2013 International Convention and English Language Expo, held in Dallas, Texas.

Their presentations at the Ohio TESOL conference led to an article, “Curriculum Rehabilitation: Transforming Academic Content for ESP Purposes,” to be published in the Spring 2013 issue of the Ohio TESOL Journal. The article explores the continuing, growing concentration of English for Specific Purposes in the field in English as a Second Language. As more specialized focus is needed in a variety of disciplines, ESP instructors are challenged to find or develop specialized materials that will meet both student and program needs. The ONU faculty talked about key considerations in developing such ESP materials.

Photo, from left: Bethany Daft, Zebo Abduvakhabova, Shauna McMillan, Heather Fishbaugh and Umar Sulayman.