Combining Language Descriptions

Ideas and Options in English
Specific Purposes
Chapter 6
“Helen Basturkmen”
Combining Language
Arezoo Rashidnia
Language Uses in ESP
 Speech act
Which is communicative act that convey an intended
language function.
include functions such as requests, apologies, suggestions,
commands, offers, and appropriate responses to those acts
 Genre
A class of language use and communication that happens in
particular communities.
 Social interaction
Means speakers and writers lubricate their discourse and
make their language use appropriate.
Combining Language Descriptions
ESP teaching or research may rely on one type of description or
combination of them, or combining descriptions of language with a
focus on language skills.
The aim of the chapter is to illustrate this, three examples are used:
• In-house teaching material for engineering students
• An academic speaking course
• Research study into workplace language
In-house teaching material
Genre-based language description
Aims of the course:
• To help the students write abstracts for reports on engineering
projects that involve innovative procedures, techniques or
• To help the students develop their ability to read and write
technical text
Focus on:
• Writing abstracts
• Writing recommendation proposal
Doesn’t focus on:
• Writing processes and skills development although
writing and reading practice are involved.
So the main focus is on the features of two written genres:
• How abstract and recommendation reports are organized
• What kind of content they contain
The abstracts that you write in this unit will be graded
according to the following criteria:
1. All main ideas are present.
2. Your presentation is:
1. Concise
2. Coherent (organization is logical)
3. Cohesive
4. Grammatically accurate/intelligible/stylish
FIG. 1. Introduction to the abstracting unit
The verb in thesis sentence is important. The tense informs the reader if
the article is about something which has already been developed, is
presently being developed or will be developed in the future.
Present perfect: has been developed
Present progressive: is being developed
Future: will be developed
FIG. 1. continued
An academic speaking course
Speaking-skills-focused course
Speech-act-based language description
Skills Focus
Language Help
Preparing presentation Asking questions
Generating ideas
The media Giving an overview
Agreeing & disagreeing
Asking for clarification (could
you explain what you mean…)
FIG. 2. Language help overview. From Speaking Student’s Book by M. Rignall and C. Furneaux
Focus on:
• Skills involved in giving presentations (looking for ideas
to shape a talk, giving an overview, and rehearsing)
• Participating in discussions
• Offers some language description of a number of speech
acts important to participation in academic speaking
including expressing opinions, asking questions, and
asking for clarification
Research study into workplace language
Speech-act-based language research
Investigation of aspects of social interaction
Pascal Brown’s Study (2001):
• The main speech act targeted for investigation was directives
(try to get others to do things)
• Who use directives and when
• How workers and key figures in the factory use directives
• Examination of the syntactic choices the speakers used in
making directives in the factory setting
Focus of the study was on:
• Speech acts (directives)
• Relationship between social factors (such as status and
distance) and the language choices made by the people
working in the factory
• Also involved a focus on social interaction and hedging
The data set from Pascal’s study was analyzed for the
following features:
• The choice of syntactic forms by the participants
• The relationship between the forms selected by the
participants, strength of the directives, and the power
relationships and social distance between the speakers
• The use of modifying devices (hedges or other means to
minimize or maximize the strength of the directives) by the
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