Published 31st August 2018

teaching English for specific purposes

Once you have some experience in teaching English as a foreign language you might come across jobs that include teaching English for specific purposes.

This is a branch of TEFL that helps students who need to speak English for their jobs. They learn to communicate using language that is specific to whatever job they are doing.

A good example is hotel work. If you have taught English abroad in tourist locations, you’ll have come across students that want to work, or already have jobs in the hospitality industry. You could teach students who are studying for tourism qualifications to become hotel managers or work in a reception.

Teaching English for specific purposes means that you concentrate on the vocabulary, jargon and language structures for that particular type of work.

Speaking English is desirable in most jobs, but in some it is a necessity. If you want to be an airline pilot, for example, you need to speak English to qualify. All communications between an airline pilot and air traffic control are in English. This rule was brought about to increase safety.

You might find yourself teaching English for specific purposes in:

  • Business
  • Tourism
  • Aviation
  • Medicine
  • Nursing
  • Engineering
  • Journalism

If you have worked in a specific industry in the past, then you’ll find teaching English for specific purposes much easier as you will already be acquainted with the subject. That doesn’t mean to say you can’t teach it without experience. Most courses will have a class book, which of course you can study beforehand and do any research you need to do on the internet.

The majority of ESP students will have a high standard of English already. They may have just left university or are still studying.

If you have a deep interest in a particular field, then you will find teaching English for specific purposes rewarding.