Introduction: Speaking Strategies for ESP
The significance of acquiring English speaking skills can hardly be overrated. Speaking is the basic way of getting a message across, and one must master the skill in question in order to have a good command of a language, English being no exception. However, in the rise of the globalization process, a rapid increase in diversity rates and, therefore, a significant amount of ESL and ESP students in American schools can be observed. As a result, teachers often need to resort to different strategies for teaching students speaking skills. Christine B. Feak renders the subject matter in her article “ESP and Speaking,” suggesting new tools for addressing the problem.
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Body: Article and Its Significance
Article Summary: Shared Communicational Needs
In her article “ESP and Speaking,” Feak addresses one of the key issues in the contemporary pedagogy, i.e., the methods of teaching English to a diverse team of students incorporating not only the ones, to whom English is a native language, but also ESL and ESP students. According to Feak, teachers must facilitate a faster acquisition of speaking skills by ESP and ESL students by creating the environment, in which the learners will be capable of understanding the instructions and general rules better.
Feak claims that, by reducing the complexity of the tasks and simplifying the instructions, teachers will be capable of catering to the needs of ESP students; as a result, the process of language acquisition will be enhanced greatly, and ESP students will be able to speak English according to designated standards. Moreover, Feak suggests that a range of aids should be used in the course of introducing ESP students to new concepts and suggesting them to handle specific tasks; by integrating novel forms of posters, teachers will achieve impressive results in teaching ESP students basic speaking skills, Feak argues.
Critique: Locating the Advantages and the Inconsistencies
The article written by Feak is a very impressive study, which incorporates a streak of important ideas and a range of clever solutions to the problem that many teachers have to deal with on a regular basis. According to Feak, teachers, which work in diverse settings, must incorporate the approaches that will allow ESP students to understand the subject and the teacher’s requirements better by providing more explanations and simplifying some of the elements of the learning process. Feak renders the key tenets of the information exchange theory quite successfully by applying them to the setting in question and claiming that “Provided the correct forms have been learned, the limited flexibility in the communication format is thought to facilitate information exchange” (Feak 42).
Therefore, it seems that Feak’s choice aligns with the key theoretical positioning. The point of view, which Feak adopts, though being quite popular among a range of researchers, still needs further studying. The ides, which Feak suggests, however, do not seem to invite a further discussion of the subject matter; by stating quite clearly that ESP students need to be taught with the help of a less rigid approach, Feak prevents from viewing alternative solutions, which promote enhancement of information acquisition process among ESL and ESP students.
However, the author brings up a range of interesting innovations into the classroom setting, including the concept of conferences, which makes the article quite engaging and the argument rather compelling: “Conference presentations (CP) are undoubtedly essential for scholars to fully participate in the ongoing activity of their disciplines” (Feak 44). Therefore, it would be wrong to assume that the author is biased in any way; instead, the article can be considered as a study that needs a follow-up research for addressing some of the issues that have been overlooked. After all, it is essential to bear in mind that, having contributed to the creation of an academic book with her article, the author must be considered a credible writer; therefore, the article should be viewed as trustworthy.
Though one must give the author credit for her efforts in reevaluating the issue of teaching English to the students with special needs, the argument provided by the author still has a few dents in it. Specifically, the fact that the author overlooks some of the benefits of English-speaking students setting the tone for the class deserves to be mentioned. More importantly, by introducing a set of more lenient approaches towards ESP students, one may face the threat of other students following the tone that ESP learners set. As a result, the performance of English-speaking students may deteriorate once the specified mode of teaching is chosen for a class with high diversity rates.
Moreover, it would be rather reasonable for the author to study the effects of peer scaffolding, which may occur once the English-speaking students are provided with an assignment of assisting their peers in carrying out the basic assignments and understanding the English language rules. The approach of peer assessment and scaffolding might work with the ESP students quite fine, yet the author dismisses the above-mentioned concept without detailing the reasons for doing so. The author’s decision to avoid the specified issue can be viewed as a major issue, which may be addressed in a follow-up study.
The text is written in a coherent and understandable manner. However, as far as the methodology of the author’s study is concerned, Feak could have explained the foundation for her study in a bit more detailed way. Specifically, the theoretical framework for the research to be based on still remains a bit unclear; though mentioning the theory of information exchange at some point, Feak still remains rather vague about the actual basis for her study to rely on.
As a result, the veracity of some of the statements needs to be checked. Nevertheless, Feak has shown an impressive proficiency in using outside sources for supporting her argument; apart from constructing her own research, the author relies on the findings suggested by other credible researchers, therefore, making the paper all the more significant. Feak also simplifies complex concepts and notions so that they could be easy to grasp, yet she never does it to the point, where her clarifications could be considered redundant.
For example, when analyzing the changing perspectives in the ESP speaking, the author provides a series of rather graphic examples of ESP related difficulties by mentioning the pilot-ATC communication issues. Overall, despite the issues regarding the possible one-sidedness of the author’s argument, the artifice can be recommended to someone interested in the strategies for assisting ESL and ESP students.
Conclusion: Reevaluating ESP Issues
Outlining the obvious necessity for a teacher to meet the needs of ESP students in a diverse environment, Feak suggests reducing the overall complexity of the assignments and the means of explaining the key tenets of the English language learning theory. While the method suggested by Feak clearly has a few major disadvantages, the threat of English speaking students losing their skills partially being one of the major dangers, the author still provides several legitimate arguments concerning the need to provide ESL students with an opportunity to learn the language properly and excel in speaking English. Therefore, the article can be deemed as fairly valuable for the people interested in the issue.
Feak, Christine B. “ESP and Speaking.” The Handbook of English for Specific Purposes. Ed. Brian Paltridge and Sue Starfield. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, 2012. 36–48. Print.