Solomchak N.

Ivano-Frankivsk National Technical University of Oil and Gas, Ukraine

Project Work in Teaching ESP


The experience shows that the methodological problem number one in teaching English in Ukraine is motivation.

Approximately 75% of students we teach at the university do not know why really they study English. We tell them that every highly educated person should know at least one foreign language, that according to the curriculum of the University they should study English, that, probably, they will go to an English-speaking country, or the firm they will work for will cooperate with foreign partners and so on and so far. But for 17-18 year old students its either a must developed by their teachers or just unreal future. Thats why the teachers should do their best to make the lessons interesting and in this way to inspire students to learn English.

There is no one method which will be suitable for everyone. The teacher should be inspired to change and to experiment. But he may be limited by a number of institutional factors. Among these may be regulations which demand a certain curriculum content, budgetary constraints which will dictate class size and number of hours, an old-fashioned text book, or an obligation to teach in a certain way (grammar-translation method for example). An inexperienced teacher has to overcome this.

The ESP teacher must be sure that the content and the activities he chooses are relevant to the goals of the learners. This means that he should be as familiar as possible with what the learners do and how they do it. Thats why the teaching staff of the English Language Department of the technical university closely cooperates with the professors who are experts in oil and gas industries.

Great attention should be paid to motivation and student purpose. The learners must be clearly aware of the aims of the course, its content and its activities, and can see how the course will be of benefit to them.

Very often the learners have only an instrumental purpose in learning English they are only interested in language learning for the sake of their career or promotion. In this case it is impossible to expect them to show an intense interest in the language itself. Then the teacher should focus on the purpose to which the language is put. Encouraging learners and showing enthusiasm and interest may be very helpful.

The experience shows that young professionals would like to use English in the following spheres of their work: describing maps, diagrams, etc.; filling in application forms, CVs; interpreting; making presentations; negotiating; reading for specific information; reading for general information from original special texts; telephoning; using English for professional purposes; writing faxes, e-mails; writing resume, summary.

The present study focuses on the problem specific for ESP teachers at technical universities. The problem is how to build the bridge that would help to eliminate the psychological gap between teaching oral communicative skills for everyday life that greatly inspires our students interest and teaching skills in technical reading, and professionally-oriented communication in the field that is usually considered by our students majoring in petroleum engineering to be a dull and uninspired job.

To solve this problem and to teach professional speaking, writing, reading and listening within an integrated skills approach we have introduced project work into our syllabus. The project work methodology can be defined as an integrated pedagogical and language activity that successfully combines simulations, role-plays and various forms of discussion. Project work involves multi-skill activities which focus on a theme of interest. In project teams students work together to achieve a common purpose, a concrete outcome ( a video, a report, an article).

Sample Project:

-   Purchasing a Computer

-   Application of Customized Microbial Culture Products for Improved Oil and Gas Production in the Carpathian Foreland

-   The Development and Comparison of Two Algorithms for the Purpose of Determining Which Algorithm is the Best for Demonstrating the Importance of Various Meteorological Variables on the Ultraviolet Radiation Reaching the Surface

Sample of Team Assignment:

On May 26,2006, your team must present an approximately 15-minute oral presentation in which you present your thesis- or conclusion regarding the state of technology and detailed summary of the arguments and supporting data upon which you base your thesis/ conclusion. Each person must present his share of the presentation. You should use a variety of visual aids to emphasize your main points and principal data, and come dressed up as professionally as you can.

Your oral presentation will include the following sections:

introduction, support, conclusion.

Audience: your audiences for this oral presentation will be your groupmates, instructors. Other audiences may include deans, visitors, professors and students from various departments. You may invite friends to attend.

Project work can not only promote the growth of positive motivation, but also offer the following advantages to the students:

-   it allows the students to proceed at their own rate;

-   it allows the students to choose their own learning mode;

-   it allows the students to identify their strengths and weaknesses and to recycle through remedial modules, repetition or a change in learning mode.




1.     Master P. In Defense of ESP. Responses to English for Specific Purposes. San Jose State University, 1998. 241p.

2.     Numan D. The Learner-Centered Curriculum. Cambridge University Press, 1988. 196p.

3.     Robinson P.C. ESP Today: A Practitioners Guide. Prentice Hall, 1988. - 143p.