1. The words and sentences learned, the subject matter discussed, all relate to a particular field or discipline, for example, a lawyer writing a brief, or a diplomat preparing a policy paper. The courses make use of vocabulary and tasks related to the field such as negotiation skills and effective techniques for oral presentations.
2. ESP programs use printed and audio-visual materials that are specially designed to meet the needs of a specific group of learners, usually adults. Typical ESP textbooks are English for Corporate Communications and English for Information Systems.
3. Tuition for an ESP course may be somewhat higher than that of a general English language course. (The specialized teaching, requiring professionals, the broad range of supporting activities and facilities explain this higher cost.) In general, the course will conform to the length of a school's regular English language programs (semester length, 4-, 6-, or 8-week summer sessions) although a highly specialized course lasting only two or three weeks might be designed to meet the needs of a specific group.
Apart from differences in ESP programs' duration and cost, these courses have a common purpose: to increase students' skill and confidence in using English.
Who should enroll in ESP programs?
Generally, older, more advanced students should consider ESP instead of a more general English language course. Students should note, however, that most courses assume a strong English language background. Many require that applicants be at a High Intermediate or Advanced level of skill.