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English for Special Purposes Coursework

Identifying Characteristics of Taxi Drivers as Learners of English for Specific Purposes

The group of students includes taxi drivers who will need to meet the existing standards of the language proficiency. The age of the focus group varies significantly from 25 to 45 years. Specifically, a group under the age category 30 amounts to 60 % whereas group under the age category from 30-45 years is 40 %. All taxi drivers should learn English as a second language for using it in their professional environment.

Specifically, the purpose of learning language consists in reaching communicational purposes, instructional purposes, and pragmatic functions. In particular, the task of taxi drivers is to learn speech patterns that are most commonly used in the workplace. They should also be able to adjust to various cultural varieties and, therefore, their language should be politically correct.

Study of language, therefore, will also be connected with intercultural issues, including the analysis of various nationalities, essentials of cross-cultural communication, and the basics of interpersonal communication. Finally, the students will have to be able to learn the linguistic patterns and sentence structures that are often used in dialogues.

Specific attention should be paid to the analysis of language proficiency. In the given course, it is purposeful to apply to holistic strategies and start learning languages from the general vocabulary, or high-frequency words, and proceed with learning more specific terms and lexis related to the professional environment.

The fact that students have various cultural and ethnic origins as well should also be taken in consideration because it has a great impact on the curriculum design and the actual duration of the course.

Strategies to Conduct A Needs Analysis and Rationale for the Chosen Strategies in Terms of the Theoretical Perspectives

Introducing course design for studying English for specific purposes is much more beneficial for learners seeking to learn the language for achieving either academic or professional goals (Dudley-Evans & St John, n. d). In this respect, the curriculum should be planned with regard to the working environment in which students are engaged in.

The primacy of needs analysis is unquestionable because it is closely associated with students’ motivation. In addition, English for specific purposes implies a time-limited course that is developed with references with a needs analysis (Dudley-Evans & St John, n. d.).

Needs analysis, therefore, will directly relate to the activities that students perform at work. It will also depend on registers, genres that learners should be able to handle to carry out daily activities at work.

For this particular course, the language will be studied with regard to a specific variety of English that is closely associated with the communication environment in which taxi drivers operate.

According to Busturkmen (2006), “learning from the specific variety of English…is highly effective as learners acquire structure in relation to the range of meanings in which they are used in their academic, workplace, or professional environments” (p. 17).

However, before the specific English will be identified, students will have to come up with general English because it will also introduce specific directions and mechanisms through which a teacher can estimate the level of proficiency and define which learning techniques should be introduced.

Before the target learners will be accepted for the course, they will have to present written introspections with regard to the following prompts:

  1. Provide a detailed but concise description of the job of a taxi driver as possible. Be accurate and laconic. It is not necessary to elaborate on unnecessary details, but you should be specific. The respond in the form of notes will suit the description requirements.
  2. Jot down a list of words, phrases, and word combination that you heard while driving the passengers. Written and read words are also possible to mention if it relates to the job specifics. Please, add the information about the speaker, as well as the type of material that vocabulary was taken from.

The next step of needs analysis will be aimed at obtaining information concerning the types of communication channels that the target learners use. The taxi drivers were presented with questionnaires and interviews that will help to define what kind of sentence structures they use, which language patterns they, as well as what genres prevail in communications with their clients.

Such an approach will also pursues a social purpose because this aspect is important in understand the needs of students while learning a language. Ethnographic principles will also be applied to observe behavior, habits that will later the learning techniques for the ESP classes.

With regard to the existing limitations of needs analysis perspective, the information about personal experience will be drawn basically from face-to-face interviews, but not from institutions they work with. Particular attention should also be given to distinguishing between objective and subjective needs of learners.

Specifically, the role of an ESP teacher is to define the objective concerns and actual interest of taxi drivers so as to be able to accurately identify the techniques and strategies for designing the course content.

With regard to the above-presented theoretical lenses, the main needs of taxi drivers are to acquire vocabulary on attracting attention of clients, effective greeting, accurate explanation of itineraries, polite responses, and information requests.

The taxi drivers should also be able to learn the communication devices for sustaining fruitful dialogue with their clients. All these aspects, along with needs analysis, will be essential for preparing a unit of work in ESP course.

Description of Course Content Unit

Within specific ESP course, students have to study high-frequency vocabulary, understand the peculiarities of dialogues composition, and understand the importance of social issues in communication. At this point, a list of important vocabulary will be introduced in the form of phrase and word combinations, but not as a list of separate words. The task of the course is to encourage learners to use some words in various contexts.

The unit of work selected for this course will involve a dialogue called Travel to Airport that contains important vocabulary that taxi drivers should learn for successful communication.

The story will also allow the learner to understand what phrases should be used in various situations, as well as predict what travelers are usually concerned with while travelling from a specific destination to airport. The Appendix 1 presents a developed conversation between the traveler Steven who is trying to find a cap and arrive in a destination.

Aside from conversation practice in English, taxi drivers should have excellent listening comprehension skills. In this respect, a video will be provided for learners to understand the main difficulties in understanding and improving pronunciation. The video provided by Anglo-Link (2011) provide a number of challenges that LSP learners can face, as well as strategies that will help them improve their comprehension and pronunciation.

Rationale for the Chosen Unit of Work In Terms Of Genre, Language, Moods, and Intercultural Issues

The proposed units of practice – dialogue to learn vocabulary and situational context and listening comprehension video tutorial – provide a great start for LSP learners. Specifically, the genre of language is conversational due to the professional peculiarities. The chosen genre and style of language learning fit the needs of taxi drivers should be good at interpersonal communication and listeners.

Accurate understanding of the clients’ requests is essential for meeting their demands. Therefore, taxi drivers should be able to have sufficient listening comprehension skills. Importantly, the success listening comprehension and authentic interaction largely depends on the cultural issues as well.

Taxi drivers will have to communication with people of various nationalities and, therefore, their speech should exclude politically incorrect words. They should apply to formal constructions and general English language. In this respect, the basic knowledge is also significant to improve communication skills.

Chamberlin-Quinlisk (2008) states that a good language learner should be regarded “…as more than successful linguist but as one who can participate in the conversations of the target language community” (p. 3).

Taking an active part in social communication is especially relevant for LSP learners who consider English as a second language and who communicate in culturally diverse settings that provide them with both social and academic opportunities for authentic interaction.

The dialogue implies that a taxi driver is not a native speaker, but his language skills are sufficient for communicating with a passenger. The communication skills, therefore, can be developed as soon as the learner will conceive the main aspects of cross-cultural interaction.

Ability of a person to adapt to communication strategies and styles plays a pivotal role in intercultural interactions. In this respect, creating dialogues on the basis of the proposed example can contribute to the learners’ adaptability, which is possible through defining sociocultural and strategic knowledge (Chamberlin-Quinlisk, 2008).

Social adaptability also contributes to social competency and experiences increasing learner’s ability to adjust to new situations (McDonough, 2010). It also offers learners a new vision on critical situations, as well as ensures possible steps for addressing language challenges.

Overall, all aspects, including genre, registers, style, and intercultural peculiarities, have been introduced to meet the concerns and needs of the identified group. Focus on comprehension listening and communication skills is a priority in a learning process. The non-native learners will able to understand what purposes are traced. Moreover, they will have much more incentives to study the English language.

Evaluating the Unit in Terms of its Sustainability for the Group of Learners Identified and Their Needs

Before organizing the units of works, specific attention should be paid to the language characteristics and essential purposes in learning. In the given case, the language should be seen as a series of communicative purposes and, therefore, the given dialogue presents pragmatic functions of language (Ho, 2011). In particular, the speech acts are aimed at requesting, reporting, and describing the course content.

Despite the specificity of the established language functions in the unit of work, “language should be approached holistically and teaching should proceed from the whole to the parts” (Busturkmen, 2006, p. 21-22). At the same time, the pragmatic functions view language as a set of intended actions of users and speech acts.

Because taxi drivers are frequently involved in communication acts, their learning models should be oriented on sentence structures, language patterns, and word phrases. Knowledge of language out of social and communication contexts is not relevant and does not meet the specific purposes. Therefore, understanding real-to-life situations is a priority for learners of this occupation.

There is an assumption that introducing authentic materials is also a helpful tool in conceiving the basic aspects of language. Developing authentic materials is much more appropriate in a social context as well because such teaching practices “as multiple intelligences, cooperative learning, task based learning and content-based learning, lead to authentic interaction in classroom” (Busturkmen, 2006, p. 437).

At the same time, the presence of text-based materials is also indispensible for organizing the authentic interaction. Based on the dialogue presented in Appendix 1, the learners will be able to construct their personal dialogue with reliance on the vocabulary highlighted in bold.

Apart from conversation practice units, listening comprehension practices should also be involved into the course content. According to Kavaliauskienė and Anusienė (2009), “in listening, it is not just the relative frequency of the content words that affects comprehension but also how concentrated they are in the text” (p. 29). What is more important is the authenticity of the materials on practicing listening skills (Baghban, 2011).

In particular, authenticity implies listening to a real language that is the most challengeable to understand. The point is that when learners listen to unknown speech, they often perceive it as a continuous set of sounds. Lack of experience in listening prevents the learners from distinguishing meaningful extracts and understanding the word boundaries in a sentence (Laborda, 2011).

However, constant listening practice will help them improve their comprehension and break the chain of sounds into meaningful patterns. They will start recognize some familiar words in the course of continuous practice. Therefore, the proposed video will allow to outline the most difficult patterns, as well as the strategies contributing to advancing their pronunciation skills.

In addition, listening to specific materials, particularly to the proposed audio lecture is also an important instrument in checking the level of learners’ involvement into developing their listening skills (Miller, 2009). They should also be ready to act in various discourses.

With regard to the selected units of work, the courses will involve a combination of structural, functional, situational and task-based patterns that will ensure the learners’ progress in studying the English language. Specifically, structural patterns imply studying grammar and sentence structures. Particular attention will be given to the analysis of types of questions, incomplete sentences, and polite responses.

Functional approach includes the analysis of communicational and situational functions that will allow taxi drive to apply to pertinent behaviors while interacting with their clients. This is where social discourse is important in advancing language skills. Situational patterns are indispensible for learners to understand to be able to set speech acts around various situations.

With regard to the national standards for testing ESP learners in Australia, the given course context should meet the requirements. The proposed methodology on identifying the proficiency level and associate language skills indicates the actual skills that taxi drivers need to communicate freely with their clients.

According to these standards, it is not necessarily for taxi drivers to have an excellent command of the English language, but the level that will help them accomplish their professional duties (Ingram, 2010). Therefore, the course content allows the ESP learners practice all ranges of skills, including reading, writing, listening, and comprehending.


In conclusion, the main task of this project is to define the course content to learn taxi drivers as ESP learners. The age of the group varies between 20 and 45 years and, therefore, the techniques should be adopted in accordance with their skills, proficiency level, and experience in driving.

As the basis for the unit of work, a dialogue was chosen to learn the basic vocabulary, as well as structural and functional patterns of responding to and responding to the information provided by the client. As a supporting material, a video lecture on listening comprehension has been included for the learners to understand the challenges of distinguishing unfamiliar words in a real speech act.

The rationale for the chosen course content is justified because practicing communication skills and listening skills are essentials for acting in a real-to-life situation. In addition, a task-based approach is strong motivation for learners to improve their knowledge and experience in speech acts.

The presentation of language varieties plays a secondary role in defining the direction in studying the English language because conversational style requires the knowledge general language, as well as elements of oral communications. Writing and reading skills are also less important for the given course. Finally, the worked out activities will suit the established national standards for testing English language knowledge of taxi drivers.


Anglo-Link (2011) Learn English Listening Skills. YouTube. Retrieved from

Baghban, Z. (2011). Authentic Materials’ Implication for ESP Settings. Sino-US English Teaching, 8(7), 437-442.

Busturkmen, H. (2006). Issues in ESP Course Design. In Busturkmen (Ed.) Ideas and Options in English for Specific Purposes. Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erbaum Associates.

Chamberlin-Quinlisk, C. (2008). Language Learner and Native Speaker Self-Perceptions of Communicative Adaptability: Implications for Intercultural Interactions. Conference Papers — International Communication Association, 1-25.

Dudley-Evans, T., & John, M. J. (n. d.). Developments in ESP: A multi-disciplinary approach. US: Cambridge University Press.

Ho, B. (2011). Solving the Problems of Designing and Teaching a Packed English for Specific Purposes Course. New Horizons In Education, 59(1), 119-136.

Ingram, D. E. (2010). National Testing of English Language Skills for Taxi Drivers. Queensland: University of Melbourne.

Kavaliauskienė, G., & Anusienė, L. (2009). English For Specific Purposes: Podcasts For Listening Skills. Coactivity / Santalka, 17(2), 28-37.

Laborda, J. G. (2011). Revisiting Materials for Teaching Languages for Specific Purposes. Online Submission.

McDonough, J. (2010). English for specific purposes: a survey review of current materials. ELT Journal: English Language Teachers Journal, 64(4), 462-477.

Miller, L. (2009). Engineering Lectures in a Second Language: What Factors Facilitate Students’ Listening Comprehension?. Asian EFL Journal, 11(2), 8-30.

Appendix. English Conversations: Travel to Airport

Steven has to travel to New Jersey on business. However, he finds no available bus that will follow the necessary itinerary. So, Steven has to take a taxi to Airport Office that offers arrangements of airport transfers. The car is ordered and the taxi asks a traveler a number of questions:

Taxi Driver: “Should I drive directly to the City, Sir”?

Steven: “Yes, please. How do you like the job of a taxi driver? Do you earn enough?”

Taxi Driver: “I should confess that job of a taxi driver is a lot of hard work. I find that one must run it oneself to be successful at any business.

Steven: “Unfortunately, there is only one hour left for my flight to take off. I will have to take Airport Office that has arrangement for transfers to airport. Do you think we’ll reach the city airport in time?”

Taxi Driver: “I think so, Sir. It will take use another fifteen minutes to reach the city Office.”

Steven: “Anyway, please do not drive fast.

Taxi Driver: “Don’t worry. Once we get out of this district, there is not much traffic jams on the other route and we will make good time”

Steven: “How long have you been driving the taxi”?

Taxi Driver: “It is now more than two years, Sir, since I bought my taxi. And do you travel often?”

Steven: “This is my first trip by air. I believe that one should reach the flight terminal at least one hour before take off of flight. Do you think we’ll be late?”

Taxi Driver: “Please, don’t worry, sir. You will get there forty-five minutes ahead of time and that is sufficient time for you to check in.”

Steven: “We are approaching the Airport Office now, aren’t we?”

Taxi Driver: “Yes, Sir. Here we are. Shuttles to airport are ready. You want to go to Domestic airport, or the International terminal?”

Steven: “To the International Terminal, please. Thank you. How much is Taxi fare?”

Taxi Driver: “Fifteen dollars and fifty cents, please, sir.”

Steve: “Here is the fifty dollars. Please take fifteen dollars and fifty cents and return the change to me. Thank you.”

Taxi Driver: “Here you are. Have a nice trip, sir.”

Steven: “Thank you very much”

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