Shevchenko M.V. 

National Technical University of Ukraine Kyiv Polytechnic Institute, Ukraine

Principles of Effective English for Specific Purposes Teaching


In order to improve greatly students knowledge of English for Specific Purposes (ESP) and their ability to study as a whole, it is necessary to stick to basic principles of effective English teaching and learning at technical universities. These principles concern teaching (the teachers individual characteristics and work), learning (the students personal qualities and performance), and attributes of a successful university lesson.

In order to be considered efficacious, the ESP teaching process has to comprise the following features [1, p. 3; 2, p. 3-6; 3, p. 2-14; 4, p. 2-6]:

1.   A lesson is a coherent sequence of learning activities, linked together to form a whole, and contributing to learners language acquisition; the lessons goals and expected outcomes are clearly stated;

2.   Listening, reading, speaking and writing skills are integrated into teaching process and simultaneously developed, i.e. students not only listen to or read authentic English materials but also have opportunities to use English, including ESP, by themselves in practice;

3.   Taught materials need to be attention-grabbing, delivered in multiple modes, including the use of audiovisual aids, and their language must be authentic and culturally relevant;

4.   Vocabulary development is crucial for students academic success. It should be taught within multiple contexts, and used in class frequently and in numerous combinations;

5.     Active learning (brainstorming, problem solving, sequencing, decision making). Students are embolden, active participants in the in-class activities, provided with chances for practicing English in a meaningful and successful way, being challenged with assignments that require high-level thinking, language processing, and so, contribute to students language acquisition;

6.     Students pair work and teamwork are fostered. Changing occasionally the membership of groups and the seating arrangement in the auditorium can also help to increase students involvement;

7.     Students cultural and professional background knowledge is activated;

8.     Teachers, providing their example, should promote students ability to use oral English and create opportunities for them to use it;

9.     The teacher guides the process of study but simultaneously teaches students to become self-regulating learners, i.e. with developed metacognitive skills;

10. Recurrent, swift and timely feedback is important throughout the lesson;

11. The teacher is interested and committed to his/her work, while indifferent lecturers cannot be expected to motivate students, which is essential;

12. The English teacher continuously develops professionally, improves his/her language proficiency, represents high professional standards and sound principles of English teaching;

13. The foreign language teacher has high standards of excellence and expectations for the students, respects various personality types, diversified talents and skills, as well as addresses non-cognitive issues that affect learning (helps students sustain motivation and develop skills of autonomous work).

A positive learning environment includes [3, p. 15-21]: a good classroom climate with good behaviour upheld at all times; auditorium arrangement creating effective learning of English (individual, pair, and group work are often used); efficient lessons time distribution (the teacher avoids unnecessary and long instructions, as well as predictable and repetitive exercises, uses at the lesson a variety of activities with an appropriate level of difficulty, sets the time for tasks performance clearly, monitors students work).

Effective education is only possible when [2, p. 5]: the taught information is meaningful, authentic and relevant to students speciality, since it is easier to remember and is better in attracting attention; there is an ongoing practice or rehearsal that makes it easier to retain an idea; categorization of concepts is done using mnemonics, which improves memory; the process of concepts memorization is conducted via particular contexts, rather than outside of them, as long as memory is context dependent.

Summing up all the aforesaid, it is essential to take into account the basic principles of teaching and learning in order to create the productive and interesting English for Specific Purposes lesson at a technical university, and thus, encourage students to continually improve their foreign language level and enrich vocabulary.


1.     Li, J. (2012). Principles of Effective English Language Learner Pedagogy. Retrieved from: https://research.collegeboard.org/sites/default/files/publications/2012/8/researchinreview-2012-3-effective-english-language-learner-pedagogy.pdf. Last accessed 27th April 2015.

2.     Mintz, S. (2004). The Fundamentals of College and University Teaching. Retrieved from: http://gsas.columbia.edu/sites/default/files/GSAS_fundamentals_handbook.pdf. Last accessed 27th April 2015.

3.     Richards, J. C. and Bohlke, D. (2011). Creating Effective Language Lessons. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 44.

4.     Smittle, P. (2003). Principles for Effective Teaching. Journal of Developmental Education. 26 (3), 10-18.