Have you ever enrolled in a course where your expectations of the course content did not match the actual content? Did you feel like the course content was not relevant in light of your objectives and desired ‘learning outcomes’? It may very well have been the case that you were in an English for General Purposes (EGP) course, rather than an English for Specific Purposes (ESP). In this post, the differences between these two types of dominant courses are explained and illustrated through examples.
EGP versus ESP English courses
EGP courses are usually exam training courses, which are focused on improving a general proficiency in English, i.e. learning how to expand the individual’s vocabulary range and improve grammar knowledge. Consequently, EGP courses are aimed at improving the four skills -listening, speaking, writing and reading- in English. Note that speaking involves short monologues and entering into conversations with others. In other words, EGP courses are usually taken when someone aims to:
- improve his or her general proficiency,
- feel more comfortable,
- demonstrate a particular level of proficiency.
Examples of EGP courses are the following Cambridge English courses:
- First Certificate in English (FCE), i.e. B2-level of CEFR,
- IELTS, i.e. a wide band-score,
- Cambridge Advanced English (CAE), i.e. C1-level of CEFR,
- Cambridge Proficiency in English (CPE), i.e. C2-level of CEFR.
ESP courses are developed to improve specific communicative skills
ESP courses are developed for groups of professionals or individuals, who are interested in obtaining improving specific skills in English. These courses are useful for corporations that are interested in obtaining ROI, of which the investment is cost- and time-effective.
For individuals, the following questions may be relevant. Are you interested in:
- learning how to communicate in a specific occupational context?
- developing specific skills?
- developing specific skills in a cross-cultural context?
Then ESP courses are perhaps more suitable for you. ESP courses are focused on learning how to:
- communicate well in a specific context,
- use proper intonation and learning how intonation changes the meaning of interactive moves in dyadic communication,
- come across less forward or more assertive when communicating with a prospective client.
In addition, the ESP course can be focused on developing specific productive skills, i.e. speaking skills and interaction, but also writing skills. In sum, ESP courses focus on learning which vocabulary to use to be able to reach occupational objectives, i.e. how to communicative more effectively.
Examples of ESP courses:
- how to write reports in English,
- how to improve your presentation techniques,
- how to conduct effective meetings in multi-disciplinary and international teams.
Whatever your objectives, we offer our services both professionally and flexibly.
Please note that the owner of LSA Lingua is Cambridge ESOL Certified. She is, therefore, certified to facilitate Cambridge English language courses. However, only the British Council administers official examinations, which can be taken by learners of English throughout the country. What LSA Lingua offers, for example, are exam preparation courses to help students prepare for these official Cambridge English exams.