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TitleFf. 3 Esp and Egp Simi 2007
TagsEnglish As A Second Or Foreign Language Second Language Language Education Self-Improvement Motivation
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ESP/EGP SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES

2.5 ESP and EGP: Similarities and Differences:

A very hot debate has risen recently about the differences and similarities between

English for Specific Purposes and English for General Purposes (EGP). Hutchinson et al.

(1987:53) provide a short and accurate answer claiming that "in theory nothing, in

practice a great deal". In other words, they argue that as far as the theoretical features of

any language teaching are the same, yet in relation to the practical theories, a great deal

of differences exist between the two. One of the most important differences is the

learners’ awareness of their needs. In contrast, EGP learners are not aware of the specific

needs of learning the language at a particular stage in their life. Most of them see no

relevance of learning a language except for the partial fulfillment of school curriculum

and exam requirements. However, many argue that Hutchinson et al’s statement does not

really settle the whole issue. In fact, there are numerous differences between ESP and

EGP in relation to the subject matters, topics, needs, learning strategies, as well as

motivation. The most important difference lies in the learners and their purposes for

learning English. ESP learners’ needs are mostly well identified unlike EGP learners

whose purposes are either general or unidentified. Widdowson (1983) points out the main

difference between ESP and EGP in relation to learning purpose:

In ESP, it is presupposed that the learners will use the language practically

which is meant to meet their needs in a special context. For that purpose the

course is designed and the course is expected to provide the required

competence to fulfill their needs. In GPE it is not possible to define purpose

in such a way but, here, the course is designed to the potential of language in

general which will be used by the learner whenever he comes across the

situation in future. Widdowson (1983)

In addition, ESP learners are in most cases adults who already have some acquaintance

with English and are learning the language in order to be able to communicate a set of

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