Библиографическое описание:

Демидова О. М. Creating a textbook in ESP on the basis of a professional discipline // Молодой ученый. — 2015. — №5. — С. 450-454.

At the present time teaching ESP requires new teaching aids. The article represents creation of the textbook in ESP on the basis of the authentic professional discipline. The contents, the hierarchical organization of the textbook, principles of material’s selection, and creation of L2 activities are described.

Keywords: teaching aid, communicative competence, English for Specific Purposes, “sheltered instruction”.


Russia’s integration into the educational and scientific community resulted in adopting new educational standards of higher education, led to the necessity «to form skills and abilities of professional communication of specialists» [15, p.100]. According to the Federal Educational Standards of Education of the Third Generation the level of competence in a foreign language of graduates should be not lower than the level of general communication. But, it should be admitted, that «the required level is extremely high and hardly achievable with hours given and low knowledge of language» [7, p.29].

Increasing demands to the linguistic competence of future engineers made it necessary to develop the system of teaching English for specific purposes (ESP) on a new basis. One of the possibilities is to develop communicative competence combining studying the ESP and a professional discipline on the basis of authentic materials. The concept «authentic» is defined as «truly, genius» [25, p.414], «original» [12, с.53]. In the article as «authentic materials» we understand not-adapted texts of the textbook in English and describe the process of creating a textbook in ESP on the basis of the textbook by R. S. Hibbeler «Engineering Mechanics. Statics» [23].

Review of existing courses

Our work started with investigation of existing works of national and foreign colleagues on the given issue. We have studied the works of F. Grellet, S. Hood, N. Solomon, A. Burns, S. J. Savignon, S. Thornburry devoted to the issues of teaching reading and communication in English [22–27]. The works of many foreign researchers deal only with theoretical sides of the given issue. For example Zoltán Dörnyei, suggests «only a short review of the key issues of communication …» in his work [21, с. 34]. The work of J. R. Anderson describes neurological, psychological issues of acquisition, reading and teaching mathematics [16]. The works of R. M. De Keyser, Z. Dörnyei and E. Ushioda deal with the question of motivation and acquisition [17–20]. Some aspects of teaching communication are given in the works of O. A. Baeva, I. Yu. Varlamova, O. Ya. Goihman, F. A. Kuzin, B. N. Lavrinenko, A. P. Panfilova [2–13]. But, they deal with the business communication, not communication in engineering. Such situations as «…calculating the water pressure on the dam; calculating the hydrostatic pressure on the cylindrical vessel…» [4, p. 176], discussion of these problems and their solution are typical for engineers. These problems reflect our life, but on the other side, require abilities to communicate in these situations both in a native language and in a foreign language. This communication has its peculiarities and requires a new approach in teaching ESP.

A lot of textbooks are already used in teaching ESP to future engineers. N.Yu. Gusevskaya divides the «existing textbooks into two groups» [7, p.29]. The drawbacks of the first group she names that «their first issues were done in 70–80-th years of the ХХ century; all the following issues were reprinted without great changes in methodological and linguistic content» [7, p.29]. The drawbacks of the second group are absence of system, long approbation, and irrelative level of the tasks to the level of competence of learners, too many mistakes and misprints [7, p.30]. The textbooks by I. P. Agabekyan and P. I. Kovalenko are widely used in the process of teaching ESP to engineers [1]. The texts in this book are excellently selected and cover such aspects of engineering as ferrous and non-ferrous metals, plastics, types of leathers, but they lack L2 tasks which develop strategies of reading and understanding unknown texts in a foreign language, communicative tasks and tasks in writing. The textbook by T.Yu. Polyakova “English for Engineers” is aimed at the development of professional texts, but mostly, the exercises deal with grammar aspects of English [14]. Accourding to the classification of N.Yu. Gusevskaya they belong to the first group of the textbooks. Also, we studied the textbooks by А. S. Belyaeva [3], А. А. Demina, А. N. Oleynik [8]. The drawbacks of these textbooks are enumerated in the second group of N.Yu. Gusevskaya classification [7, p.30].

During the study of the literature we enriched our pedagogical, methodical knowledge, enforced our author’s position. We consider important to study ESP on the basis of the authentic materials of a professional discipline, for example, engineering mechanics, as engineers of all specialties use the knowledge of this course in their professional activity. This course contains engineering problems, axioms, mathematic symbols, formulas and equations. This peculiarity influences the communication in the given sphere. The future engineers learn to prove their point of view, using the knowledge of applied sciences, such as mathematics, geometry, physics, and strength of materials. Our final aim was to develop communicative competence in a professional sphere. The communicative competence in a foreign language includes several competences: linguistic, sociolinguistic, strategic, discursive, and social. [8, p.102].

As a communicative competence in a professional sphere we understand ability to organize their utterances accurately, logically, coherently both in written and oral forms in order to optimize different aspects of professional activity. Professional communication may be introduced in several forms: monologue (report, presentation), dialogue, polylogue.

Here we can include business dialogues, interviews, discussions, negotiations. The gradation of the forms of communication depends on the number of people who take part in communication.

Thematic and Hierarchical organization of the Textbook

The textbook ‘Engineering Mechanics (English for Specific Purposes)’ was published in 2006. In 2010 it was recommended by the Ministry of Education and Science of Russian Federation in Foreign Languages. Table 1 shows the contents of the textbook ‘Engineering Mechanics (English for Specific Purposes)’.

Table 1

Chapter 1. Basic concepts and principles

1.1  The subject of Statics

1.2  Force

1.3  Fundamental Principles

Chapter 2. Composition of Forces. Force couples in a plane.

2.1 Geometrical Method of Composition of Forces

2.2 Resolution of Forces

2.3 Equilibrium of a System of Concurrent Forces

3. Parallel Forces and Force Couples in a plane

3.1 Composition and Resolution of Parallel Forces

3.2 Moment of a Force about a point

3.3 A Force Couple. Moment of a Couple

3.4 Vector Expression of the Moment of a Couple

3.5 Moment of a Force with Respect to an Axis


A paragraph includes texts on the given professional topic. They are accompanied by the list of specialized and scientific vocabulary which is drilled in the given unit. After the texts the system of exercises is given. The exercises start with those of a controlled practice stage; go to the exercises developing strategies of reading and understanding professional texts to the open-ended practice stage exercises, and exercises on communication. We also include Appendixes. Appendix 1 gives the information how to read mathematical symbols, signs, fractions. Appendix 2 contains illustrations of engineering problems and tasks which need to be solved. Below, you can see some examples of information given in the appendixes 1 and 2.

Table 2

Appendix 1

Appendix 2

-                the square root of 4 is (equals) plus or minus 2


Determine the intensity q, if

M A = 546 Nm, F = 136 N,

M = 42 Nm, AB = CD = 2 m,

BC = 1 m.


The system of exercises is logically constructed from the easiest to the most difficult ones. Below you can see the diagram illustrating the system of exercises given in the textbook — level one contains the easiest exercises, e.g. drilling vocabulary and prepositional phrases; level 2 contains two groups of exercises: the first group develops reading strategies on the level of words, sentences and text; the second group of exercises develops speaking skills(quasi-communicative skills); level 3 contains open-ended practice exercises and communicative exercises on writing, speaking and listening. These parts include the following exercises:

Table 3

№ level

Group of exercises:

Examples of exercises:


Controlled practice exercises

exercises on pronunciation, word formation and imitation, selection of synonymous series


Reading strategies exercises

Level of words

Exercises training:

-     knowledge of suffixes, prefixes and roots to determine the meaning of unfamiliar words;

-  use of the context to determine the meaning of unfamiliar words

-  the use of international or related words

Level of sentences

Exercises which develop the following abilities:

-  to notice the key words with the primary semantic meaning in a sentence

-  to understand the logical connections in simple and complex sentences

-  to use correctly the linking words

Level of text

Exercises which develop the following abilities:

-  to recognize the key information in the text

-  to predict the contents of the text

-  to test hypotheses while reading

-  the ability to understand contextual links

quasi-communicative exercises

selection of definitions, reading of formulas, explaining of illustrations


Open-ended practice exercises, communicative exercises

Exercises on professional and scientific writing and speaking: dialogues, games, interviews and presentations, written descriptions and comments on diagrams, charts, writing summaries and proofs etc.


Principles and criteria for selecting ESP material

While selecting the texts used in the process of studying ESP on the basis of this course, we followed these criteria: authenticity, professional importance, richness in information. Building the list of vocabulary we stuck to the following principles:

1.      topic selection. We selected the terms, specialized words and expressions, which are important for the communication in this course.

2.      semantic selection. All of the selected lexical items express the most important concepts in this course and comply with the studied subjects.

3.      principle of matching. The chosen words and expressions have a high mutual combinability, which means, they are all communicatively important in the field of professional communication on the topics being studied.

4.      principle of word-building importance — all selected lexical units have a high ability to form new words with the help of affixes.

Examples of the L2 activities and exercises

The system of L2 tasks in the textbook “Engineering Mechanics (English for Specific Purposes)” follows the principle of increasing of language complexity — from drilling up to the level of communicative tasks. These L2 tasks may be modified according to the needs of the learning. Giving the examples of exercises, we will follow Table 3, which illustrates the hierarchical organization of the system of exercises.

Level 1. Controlled practice exercises.

It contains exercises on vocabulary drilling, on pronunciation, word formation and imitation, selection of synonymous series. We introduce exercises not in the complete form for the sake of space, just illustrations for our colleagues to understand the general idea of exercises. In round brackets we give the number of the page in the text book, where this exercise goes.

Exercise 7. You have two columns of the words taken from the text. Match the words having the similar meaning. (p.16)

1. equilibrium

c. balance

2. load

b. weight


After the perfection of lexical and grammatical skills through the exercises mentioned above, we offer a system of exercises aimed at development of reading skills and language strategies. It is important to point out that the goal of reading is to satisfy the needs in information which is necessary and important for communication. This requires a high level of reading comprehension. To teach learners to understand specialized texts, we must teach reading strategies and strategies of understanding a text in a foreign language [20, p.98]. The system of exercises presented in the textbook is aimed at the development of reading strategies at three levels, at the level of: words, sentences, text.

Level 2 Reading strategies exercises Level of words.

1) These are exercises which train knowledge about the composition of words: knowledge of suffixes prefixes and roots to determine the meaning of unfamiliar words.

2)                 Exercises that teach to use the context to determine the meaning of unfamiliar words

3)                 Exercises that train the knowledge of international or related words. For example:

Level 2 Reading strategies exercises Level of Sentences

Here we use exercises which develop following abilities:

1)      The ability to notice the key words with the primary semantic meaning in a sentence.

2)      The ability to understand the logical connections in simple and complex sentences:

1)      to understand the relationship between the subject and the predicate of the sentence.

2)      to use correctly the linking words (knowledge and correct use of subordinating, coordinating conjunctions, adverbs, the knowledge of linking words). For example:

Level 2 Reading strategies exercises Level of Text

Here we use exercises which develop following abilities:

A)               to recognize the key information in the text

B)                to predict the contents of the text

C)                to test hypotheses while reading

D)               to understand contextual links, i.e. connections between words and elements which were mentioned earlier in the text, for example, the use of personal, possessive, demonstrative pronouns in connection with the nouns. After perfection of knowledge of lexis and grammar it is necessary to go to the productive level of exercises. But, as our teaching experience showed it is efficient to go through the level of quasi-communicative exercises.

Level 2 Quasi-communicative exercises

These are exercises on selection of definitions, reading of formulas, explaining of illustrations.

Level 3 Open-ended practice exercises, communicative exercises

Here, we introduce exercises on professional and scientific writing and speaking: dialogues, games, interviews and presentations, written descriptions and comments on diagrams, charts, writing summaries and proofs etc.


Developing a communicative competence in ESP is a complicated process. Teachers working in this sphere should pay attention to different aspects of this process. In this article we shared the experience of creating a textbook and developing a communicative competence of future engineers in a foreign language on the basis of the authentic materials of a professional discipline, in our case, engineering mechanics. We described the structure, organization of the textbook and the system of exercises that was created with the aim to teach future engineers communication in their professional sphere. These exercises may be used and adapted by the teachers of English according to the teaching needs. We hope our experience will be useful for our colleagues in different educational establishments.




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