Academic journal article International Education Studies

Integrating EAP with EOP: An Eclectic Approach toward the Instruction of Iranian Engineering Undergraduates

Academic journal article International Education Studies

Integrating EAP with EOP: An Eclectic Approach toward the Instruction of Iranian Engineering Undergraduates

Article excerpt


It is commonly observed that training in English for Academic Purposes (EAP) cannot successfully guarantee skills in English for Occupational Purposes (EOP). This study proposes an EOP-oriented course in an academic setting. It is designed to equip undergraduate students of engineering with general skills for EOP practices to meet students' future needs after graduation. EOP skills mainly include report reading/writing and development of technical vocabulary knowledge. A main feature of this EOP-oriented course is that it does not rely on any one single approach to syllabus design, but takes an eclectic approach by drawing on elements from a task- based syllabus, a text-based syllabus, and a content-based syllabus for the design of the program.

Keywords: EAP, EOP, report reading/writing, task-based, content-based, and text-based syllabuses

1. Introduction

Until fairly recently, most syllabus designers started their programs by drawing up lists of grammatical, phonological, and vocabulary items which were then graded according to difficulty and usefulness. The role of the learner was seen as gaining mastery over the grammatical, phonological, and vocabulary items.

During 1970s, as Nunan (1994) describes, communicative views of language teaching began to be incorporated into syllabus design. Syllabuses began to appear in which content was specified, not only in terms of the grammatical elements but also the functional skills that the students would need to communicate successfully with (p. 11).

This movement led in part to the development of English for Specific Purposes (ESP). Many different syllabus types have been proposed for ESP instruction: structural, situational, functional-notional, task-based, text-based, and content-based (Hutchinson & Waters, 1987; Jordan, 1997; Watson, 2003). The type of syllabus which is implemented is noticeably dependent on a previously conducted need analyses which may not only examine the target situation, i.e., what learners are required to do, but also consider learning needs, i.e., how learners are best motivated to acquire the language and skills revealed through the target situation analysis. However, in reality, many syllabuses constructed by course instructors may not neatly fall into one specific category, but to address students' needs they should draw on aspects of two or three different syllabus types. Introspections across the students' need analyses and learning preferences in this study resulted in two key research questions for the succeeding directions of the course:

1) What are ESP students' language needs?

2) Are there any significant differences between the two groups in the post-test in relation to the eclectic approach?

1.1 Approaches to Syllabus Design

To find out what linguistic content is generated and practiced in educational context, it is necessary to review the adopted approaches to syllabus design. A task-based syllabus is concerned with purposeful activities which learners might be expected to engage in real-life situations. As Ellis (2003) points out, this type of syllabus also puts emphasis on meaning and communication, where students are primarily "users" rather than "learners" of the language. Learners may switch their attention to form when performing a task, but the code is seen as peripheral to the focus on meaning. These key features are encapsulated in Skehan's (1996, p. 50) definition of task as "an activity in which: meaning is primary; there is some sort of relationship to the real world; task completion has some priority; and the assessment of task performance is in terms of task outcome." While the importance of form is recognized in the task-based approach, Littlewood (2004) proposes a model which allows for different degrees of focus on form or meaning depending on the teaching purposes.

In a text-based syllabus, as its name suggests, the content for such syllabus is based on whole texts. …

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