Библиографическое описание:

Пригожина К. Б., Сизова Ю. С. Methods Assortment and Tailoring of Materials for LSP Teaching // Образование и воспитание. — 2015. — №3. — С. 46-52.

The article focuses on two areas of LSP teaching — master and post graduate courses — and will uncover special features and areas of difficulty in terms of materials selection and assessment criteria for both mainly professionally oriented MA students and presumably scientifically focused post graduate students respectively. LSP teaching has been widely covered to date, mainly in the fields of curriculum content and development, multi-disciplinary approach, learning and assessment strategies, etc. However, as long as university LSP teaching has expanded to master and post graduate course programmes covering various professional qualification areas, a number of challenges that have been brought alongside such tendency are worth to be considered. First and foremost, course planning, choosing and designing syllabus, relevant materials and appropriate methods / approaches for the LSP master and post graduate course. The choice is induced by different factors such as aims of the course and final assessment targets, hours allocated to the course, size of the group, level of English command the group shows, professional background of the group members, etc. Consequently, LSP teaching to master and post graduate students requires tailor-made courses with all the above mentioned tasks being equally demanding and contributing to the success of the course. Materials selection, adaptation, or course designing are all important areas in ESP teaching, which represents further practical result of effective course development and provides students with information and practical skills that will be useful in their future professional or academic life. Undoubtedly, master and post graduate ESP learners will very often respond positively to the materials that they find relevant to their area of speciality. Despite in some way different aims, the two courses rely on purposeful learning with the learner as an active processor of information. Thus, the choice of materials has a major impact on what happens in the course and what the anticipated outcome is. The choice depends primarily on the course syllabus, students’ needs and the level of foreign language knowledge students have already acquired as well as the target level they will need in order to communicate successfully in the chosen field of profession or science. Furthermore, it is necessary to stress the need of unifying a number of important aspects of the education process and its effective logical organization. The question of selecting the sort of activity, which firstly, has an educative effect and secondly, proves to be useful to our students, arises. Within this issue, the concept of scientific presentation and individual project method is disclosed, and assessment criteria for such activities are being covered upon.

Keywords: assessment and material selection criteria, individual project method, LSP teaching, master and post graduate courses.


In this paper we are going to cover the issues related to Language for Specific Purposes (LSP) and consequently everything described here will correspond to this objective. We will concentrate mainly on English for specific purposes (ESP) and English for academic purposes (EAP) and the opportunities they offer for university Master degree (MA ESP) and post graduate (post graduate EAP) students. Following the classification of ESP offered by Ref. [1], English for academic purposes, involving pre-experience, in-service and post-experience courses, might be compared to post graduate ESP curriculum; while English for Occupational Purposes (EOP), comprising pre-study, in-study and post-study courses, looks similar to MA study university English course.

From the beginning, ESP in Russia has had a narrow focus, i.e. specific courses were developed for particular academic or professional fields. In many cases ESP teachers were employed in specialist institutions or attached to particular faculties or departments. Now in universities most ESP is delivered by teachers of foreign language departments servicing each faculty. As stressed by Ref. [2] “It is easy to see how the Russian situation encourages a highly-specific focus to ESP teaching”. Thus, from a supplementary system ESP has developed into a part of equivalent full-time education course.

As to modern English Language teaching methods and syllabus design in Russian higher educational institutions at non-linguistic faculties, it is worth mentioning that few universities in Russia use independent or external examination systems for graduates of Bachelor degree aligned to the Common European Framework or any other validated scale. Still, some universities have just recently introduced external examinations, so that exit-level data are not yet available. Consequently, it appears rather difficult to get an accurate assessment of the entrance levels of university MA students in Russia. Therefore, in the article we will focus on educational processes that allow teaching English to MA students of levels higher than beginner level of command of the English language. The same might be referred to post graduate university students taking EAP courses.

The Bologna process, which Russia officially signed up to in 2003, affected foreign language teaching and ESP likewise. It has three main priorities:

−             introduction of the three-tier system: bachelor/master/doctorate;

−             recognition of qualifications and periods of study;

−             quality assurance.

State owned universities strictly stick to these requirements to support master and post graduate exchange programmes.

As far as post graduate degree university courses are concerned, traditionally Russian higher educational institutions offer in-curriculum and vocational English language programmes within LSP framework. While in-curriculum post graduate language course focuses mainly on academic writing annotation and referencing skills aiming at teaching post graduate students to process scientific data for further thesis works, most common vocational language courses develop the skills that are necessary for giving presentations and socializing at conferences. In our experience, such skills are highly demanded by post graduates, as scientists are rarely given formal training in presentation skills and yet are often called upon to present the results of their research.

The mentioned above clearly states the necessity to consider master and post graduate language study within LSP or ESP framework in order to ensure quality of developing language skills alongside with life and occupational skills, vital for future professionals and scientists in a variety of chosen fields.

Syllabus and Methods

ESP course described in this paper is taught in an institutional environment and is influenced by the needs and traditions of the university; therefore, its duration is limited by the curriculum. As stated by Ref. [3], ‘before we can start teaching a course there is a certain amount of information which we have to gather in the form of a needs analysis.’ It should be as detailed as possible to be able to make decisions about the syllable structure.

Definitions of needs vary in ESP literature depending on the purpose of analysis, but every author takes the learner as a focus of analysis.

Ref. [4] makes a distinction between «target needs» and «learning needs». ‘Target need’ refers to what the learner needs to do in the target situation and the ‘learning need’ refers to what the learner needs to do in order to learn. They further subcategorize ‘target need’ into:

−             ‘necessities’ (what learners need to know in order to function effectively in the target situation);

−             ‘lacks’ (the discrepancy between necessity and what learners already know);

−             ‘wants’ (what learners actually want to learn or what they feel they need).

As stated further by Ref. [4], learners’ ‘wants’ may or may not conform those perceived by teachers or course designers. The learning need is equated to the route of learning.

At the beginning of our MA ESP course we usually carry out a communication needs analysis. One of its aims is to find as much as possible about the different areas and styles of discourse that students might engage in. The other main point is that it helps to define communicative competence of the students. This analysis is carried out in two steps:

−             placement test, which is created according to certain standards and benchmarks;

−             task-based assessment, which is a case study that students perform orally in small groups of three or four.

These two means help to place our students with others having similar needs and abilities.

On the whole, needs analysis is a complex process which is usually followed by syllabus design, selection of course materials, and its evaluation. Learners often find it difficult to define what language needs they have and cannot distinguish between needs, wants and lacks. However, upon the results of a placement test and task-based assessment, it becomes more obvious and they are likely to be more realistic in their expectations.

As to the types of syllabus design, we will rely on the typology offered by Ref. [3], who specifies three different types of syllabus (p. 35):

−             functional;

−             topic based;

−             grammatical / structural.

Our MA ESP syllabus is topic-based combining all the three components, and is designed in accordance to the needs of students and the curriculum requirements. As far as ESP course is relatively short and takes several weeks, it covers areas of a higher priority first. The need for variety and balance in teaching also influences the chosen activities that are grouped into teaching blocks. Such blocks have a standard format, and incorporate different forms of activities which allow flexibility, in order to meet the needs of a particular group. The teacher selects relevant teaching blocks for high and low-level groups. Language skills development in an ESP course consists of a careful revision of the material of the previous three years of bachelor courses.

It is necessary to stress the necessity for a certain number of tasks aimed at communication skills development in any MA ESP course, for the following reasons:

−             training in pronunciation;

−             building up active (professional) vocabulary relevant to the chosen field;

−             facilitating the learning of grammar forms and constructions, which enables acquisition of a proper feeling for adequate grammar usage;

−             conducing to fluency in reading and speaking.

As stated in Ref. [5], traditionally state owned universities in Russia follow progressive syllabus to ESP teaching. Master course of the Plekhanov Russian University is focused on ESP involving teaching and learning some specific skills, as defined by Ref. [6], ‘language needed by particular learners for a particular purpose’ (p. 6). In contrast to General English, ESP is not aimed at a wide range of learners, ‘although there is considerable overlap between the two branches’. Following this tendency, our university master course is tailored to learners’ needs. Taking into account that most of the master course students in Russia are employed (or self-employed), the course is created for job-experienced learners, already equipped with certain knowledge in their jobs and often have precise notions about why they need ESP. It may sometimes be challenging for the teacher, still, according to Ref. [6], ‘there are three key strategies open to ESP teachers whose knowledge of the specific subject is limited: honesty and openness, preparation and confidence’ (p. 7). Learning is likely to be a joined process, based on the teacher’s expertise in language and methodology as well as the learner’s specific subject knowledge. For each lesson teachers should research as much as they can within their learners’ professional field. This preparation may include:

−             research before the course;

−             research before each class;

−             vocabulary problem forecast;

−             field (professional or scientific) induced lesson planning;

−             careful choice of materials;

−             solid background in methodology and teaching skills;

−             possess professional and personal qualities that would make any LSP course useful, memorable and inspiring for students.

Our MA language course corresponds to the scales presented by Ref. [2] and based on public documents from the Council of Europe, the Association of Language Testers of Europe (ALTE), the British Council/Cambridge ESOL and the British Association of Lecturers in English for Academic Purposes (BALEAP), with minor adaptations. The scales all refer to international levels of language proficiency.

According to the scale of overall language proficiency our master students should demonstrate the following skills:

−             can understand the main ideas of complex text on certain topics, including technical discussions in his/her field of specialization;

−             can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without strain for either party;

−             can produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue, giving advantages and disadvantages of various opinions.

We also consider it necessary to specify the abilities of our MA students in respect with their English language skills, such as:

a) reading — they can scan texts for relevant information and grasp the main point of a text.

b) writing — they can make simple notes that will be of reasonable use for essay or revision purposes.

c) listening and speaking — they can give a clear presentation on familiar topic, and answer predictable or factual questions.

All the above-mentioned relates to the target audience of our ESP courses.

As for the final stage for a master course, MA students are supposed to present a project work illustrating some aspects of their professional activity; the project, based on internet research for updated professional information in English from authentic sources, is presented in the English language. Students learn to select, structure and archive the necessary information from scientific publications and companies, banks and stock exchange websites. At this stage they are encouraged to acquire professional terms and collocations in English, their definitions in English and precise Russian equivalents. Each student delivers a Power Point presentation of an individual project at a seminar. Such tasks are aimed at acquiring professional and communicative competences by students, at developing their abilities of active and creative participation in the discussion of professional information and, mainly, developing valuable experience of making professional business presentations in English.

The syllabus for MA language courses at Plekhanov Russian University of Economics is designed in accordance with hours per module. Thus, 36-hour-course comprised of four modules is followed by a credit or an exam. As it was mentioned by Ref. [7] “the formidable scope of the task which every chair of foreign languages in a large university faces can be exemplified with the Russian Plekhanov University of Economics with its 49 specialization programmes providing education on 170 different professional profiles. The list of programmes and courses ranges from «Accounting and Audit» to “Management in Sports Industry” and “Commodity Management” and each of them must be equipped with its own language course.

MA EAP programmes offered in Plekhanov University can be presented in the overview figure as follows:

Figure 1. Language programmes for master EAP (MA EAP) course in Plekhanov University


Post graduate courses within LSP framework at Plekhanov University are aimed at working on the lexical and grammar units specific to academic foreign language in the scientific environment, focusing mainly on the development of verbal skills of communicative interaction in scientific academic world.

Post graduate syllabus in Plekhanov University is comprised of 9 scientific research branches and 30 research programmes. In terms of language study, the syllabus follows the unified European and University approved language requirements. Generally post graduate LSP course focuses on academic language study (LAP) for the following range of language programmes:

Figure 2. Language programmes for LAP post graduate course in Plekhanov University


The ultimate objective of any of the language courses is to develop and master students’ language and communication skills necessary in their future scientific research work, including the ability to participate in international conferences and scientific discussions. The final stage of post graduate LAP course is meant for the assessment of practical use of the language skills acquired within the course, i.e. prepare and deliver a presentation which covers the preliminary and anticipated results of students’ scientific research within the chosen field.

The main purpose of LAP for post graduate students of all disciplines is to achieve a practical knowledge of the language that can be used in further scientific work, which presupposes acquisition of certain skills in various types of verbal communication, and namely:

−             adequate reading and comprehension of scientific literature in a foreign language in the relevant field of expertise for processing information and drawing relevant and coherent conclusions;

−             processing and reviewing foreign sources of academic information for the further practical use in the form of short exchanges in the conversation with colleagues;

−             making statements and reports / scientific presentations in a foreign language on topics related to the scientific work of post graduate students;

−             structuring and arranging the layout of scientific presentations in accordance with internationally accepted requirements in order to deliver presentations at international scientific conferences and symposiums;

−             participating adequately in conversations on the topic of research and perceive a variety of academic discourses.

The objectives of the post graduate course «Language of scientific conferences and debate» is to develop and improve the knowledge and skills in a foreign language in various kinds of verbal communication received within MA ESP University course.

Given that this LAP course is vocational within the post graduate LSP syllabus design, 24 academic hours allocated for the course does not seem to be much adequate either to the stated course aim and objectives or to the anticipated outcome if to think of thorough language study and mastering of the skills required. Nevertheless, the course programme manages, within the syllabus limitations, to give an overview of scientific presentation layout and outline its unique structure (compared to business presentations), provide post graduate students with the language of scientific presentations and debate, arrange workshops, role plays and presentation sessions aimed at practical use of the relevant language and communication skills.

Within the post graduate LAP syllabus design for the course «Language of scientific conferences and debate» post graduate students are made familiar with the following requirements for international scientific presentations (Ref. [8] [9], [10]):

−             differences between business and scientific presentations;

−             features of the layout and structure;

−             language and signposting;

−             preparing visuals;

−             closing formalities.

The course starts with the sharing of topics for future research / thesis, when post graduate LAP students are invited to state the theme in English giving short evidence to support their choice. Bearing in mind time limit for the course set by University curriculum and syllabus design, the functional part comes shortly afterwards. Post graduate students are asked first of all to work out a typical layout and structure of a scientific presentation based on the offered video episodes. Group discussion arranged afterwards is aimed at checking students’ guesses and making them familiar with the internationally required and approved scientific presentation layout:

1) title

6) data collected

2) research topic

7) research findings

3) research introduction

8) implications

4) research rationale

9) research summary

5) research methods

10) conclusions


Further practice is arranged in groups with the students discussing the layouts and structure of scientific presentation samples provided by a teacher. Students are asked to analyze the samples in terms of layout accuracy and points ranking. Short debriefing session is followed by the groups exchanging their findings, and further report to the whole class. Another priority for the course is practicing language skills for scientific presentations and debate. In our course we relied mainly on clichés and structures presented in the works of Ref. [8], [10], which we encouraged our students to use in their presentations. Each lesson of the course was devoted to working on a particular part / parts (sections) of the mentioned presentation layout. At class students were encouraged to work in small groups in order to select the relevant vocabulary structures for a particular presentation section, with the presentation section to be prepared for delivering orally the next lesson as a home assignment, so that the final ‘product’ of the course is a full length adequately structured coherent presentation covering preliminary findings and anticipated outcome of a scientific research project.

Material Selection

Nowadays there is a wide range of different English Language teaching publications available, but, we must admit, that it is quite challenging for an ESP course teacher to find relevant materials. A lot of coursebooks provide a solid framework and the majority of books come as a part of a package that includes comprehensive teacher’s guide and resources, supplementary materials for students, self-study materials, audio and video resources, etc. For certain types of courses, especially for pre-experienced students, they can provide a variety of learning material and methodological support.

However, as stated by Ref. [3] alongside with the advantages of these coursebooks, there are a lot of issues that should be taken into consideration by an ESP teacher:

−             it is rare that a coursebook can suit a specific ESP course without any additional material or without being adapted in some way;

−             they may sometimes date very quickly;

−             they are generally not tailored to LSP or LAP students’ needs.

In case of an ESP course students have very specific requirements, depending on the learning context. Ref. [3] also states ‘important factors for them could include layout, clear structure, relevance, regular progress checks, entertainment, revision opportunities, self-study sections, reference sections, up-to-date content, and authenticity’ (p. 43).

As it was already mentioned above, in this situation, it is difficult to use one coursebook, especially for relatively short MA ESP courses of 36 or 48 hours or LAP post graduate course of 24 hours. So, teachers of Plekhanov Russian University of Economics face up the challenge to produce tailor-made materials, designed to meet specific needs for their own use. The main disadvantage of such materials is that they are very time-consuming to prepare, besides, these materials are so context-specific that they can only be used once for a single elective course.

The stages of tailor-made materials preparation might be suggested as the following:

−             assessment of the learners needs;

−             prioritizing;

−             establish aims and objectives;

−             identify and specify language and communication skills to be developed;

−             work out suitable methods to support the aims;

−             identify and analyze language items,

−             choose in-class activities and home assignments;

−             make decisions about course structure and layout as well as flexibility of the course materials.

Material selection for post graduate LAP courses is limited by the course topic and aim, which is a positive thing regarding the time and effort involved. The post graduate course “Language of scientific conferences and debate” is supported by authorized textbooks in the field (Ref. [8], [9], [10]) alongside with authentic video materials providing useful tips on preparing scientific presentations and their examples, and also web links with relevant language practice exercises. Extended language and skills practice is ensured by additional tasks and exercises suggested by course teachers.


Traditional assessment in ESP covers the purpose of the assessment, the personal, educational, and knowledge characteristics of the test takers, and the context of specific purpose language use, which are equally bound by professional ethical standards.

The purpose of assessment instruments for a master ESP course is:

−             give students an opportunity to show what they have learned and what they can do with the language and skills they have learned;

−             monitor their progress;

−             receive clearer picture about students’ needs;

−             standardize the assessment criteria and make it more relevant and reliable for the follow-up courses.

In Plekhanov Russian University of Economics for MA ESP courses we use the following block of complex end-of-the-course assessment:

1.      Vocabulary test lasting 2 academic hours;

2.      Listening test — 40 minutes;

3.      Project work paper defence followed by a Power Point presentation.

The test is designed in two variants 60 points each, ½ point is given for one correct answer. Maximum test score is 30.

Listening following the test is assessed with maximum evaluation score up to 30–1 point for each correct answer.

Project paper of our MA students is evaluated according to the following template (Table 1) based on the findings offered by Ref. [11]:

Table 1

Project paper assessment criteria (MA ESP course)



Max score


Contents and relevance



Format (appropriate structure with introduction and conclusion,

bibliography and glossary)



Appropriateness and accuracy of vocabulary



Tables, charts or graphs



Glossary (25 words minimum)






The project papers can be entirely research works in certain spheres of the course discipline theory or can be more practical and connected with the field MA students work in.

Project paper presentations are evaluated as follows:

Table 2

Project paper presentation assessment criteria (MA ESP course)



Max score


Vocabulary accuracy



Grammar accuracy



Presentation skills:



Timing (5 min.max.)






Contact with the audience



Sign posting



Body language






The final mark MA students receive depends entirely on the score he/she gets for the above-mentioned assignments, and is ranked as follows:

85–100 — excellent

70–84 — good

50–69 — satisfactory

>50 — unsatisfactory

As to post graduate LAP course “Language of scientific conferences and debate” assessment criteria and ranking, it differs solely in the progression of assessment. Following this progression, within the course we assess four main areas as components of the final research project presentation:

1.      Presentation and justification orally in a foreign language the chosen subjects of the scientific research project;

2.      Giving orally in a foreign language, as a part of the presentation, a brief description of the objectives, goals, novelty, practical relevance of the research project;

3.      Outlining orally in a foreign language, as a part of the presentation, data collected, rationale, chosen methods, research findings, anticipated results of scientific research;

4.      Prepare and deliver a presentation / scientific report on the subject of research work providing relevant information within the accepted layout and structure (credit).

Skills to be assessed:

−             introducing a foreign language theme of the future scientific research to substantiate its novelty and significance;

−             stating and supporting own position in the choice of topics and areas of research and interests;

−             selecting and using methods of scientific research, appropriately and adequately;

−             making predictions about the anticipated results of scientific research in a foreign language;

−             preparing a brief description of research to be presented at scientific conferences or discussions with foreign colleagues;

−             selecting and discussing with the supervisor the form of participation at international conferences;

−             describing the procedure of research, using graphs, tables, other visual graphic material; use appropriate lexical items to describe graphs and charts during the presentation;

−             performing speech interaction with colleagues in a foreign language as part of a casual conversation (small talk), as well as on the topics of the research project;

−             presenting the content and the main results of a research project in a foreign language in a form of a presentation in accordance with accepted international standards and conformity assessment.


The Bologna process, which Russia officially signed up to in 2003, affected foreign language teaching and ESP as well. It has three main priorities:

−             introduction of the three tier system: bachelor/master/doctorate;

−             recognition of qualifications and periods of study;

−             quality assurance.

As given by Ref. [12], “the role of EFL teachers should change. Our methods, tools, attitude should meet new demands. Role playing, case study analyses, team projects — every task should mean practical life skills development. We should teach students to make connections, to cooperate, to access and analyze information, to learn how to learn, to build self-confidence.”

Following the principle of succession and continuity in the education system, syllabus design and assessment ranking for MA ESP courses and post graduate LAP courses conform logically to similar anticipated outcome in terms of acquisition and development of knowledge, skills and abilities of the students.

Having mentioned certain difficulties we face with the course time frame limitations, challenges faced with material selection and syllabus, we have to admit positive feedback received from our graduates on the benefits they gain from both MA ESP and post graduate LAP programmes which offer language, communication, and life skills vital for their career prospects in various fields.




1.         T. Dudley-Evans, M. St. John, “Developments in ESP: A multi-disciplinary approach,” Cambridge: CUP, 1998, 301 p.

2.         E. Frumina, R. West, “Internationalisation of Russian higher education: The English language dimension,” British Council, Moscow, March 2012, p. 19.

3.         E. Frendo, “How to teach business English,” Pearson Education Limited, 2005, pp. 15–75.

4.         T. Hutchinson, A. Waters, “English for Specific Purposes: A Learning-Centred Approach,” Cambridge: CUP, 1987, pp. 54–80.

5.         O. Barsova, Y. Sizova, “Combination of basic learning strategies in an economics ESP course”, International Journal, #1(20), Part 4, Yekaterinburg, 2014, p.4.

6.         J. Day, R. Krzanowsky, “Teaching English for Specific Purposes: an Introduction,” Cambridge: CUP, 2011, pp. 5–7.

7.         E. Gavrilova, K. Trostina, “Teaching English for professional purposes (EPP) vc content and language integrated learning (CLIL): the case of Plekhanov Russian University of Economics (PRUE),” 1st MEDITERRANEAN INTERDISCIPLINARY FORUM ON SOCIAL SCIENCES AND HUMANITIES, MIFS 2014, Vol.2, p.7.

8.         A. Tamzen, “Cambridge English for Scientists,” Cambridge: CUP, 2011, 108 p.

9.         E. Zanders, L. MacLeod, “Presentation Skills for Scientists,” Cambridge: CUP, 2010, 100 p.

10.     Y. Kuzmenkova, “Academic Project Presentations,” 3rd ed., MSU Publishing, 2011, 132 p.

11.     K. Trostina, “Methodical Guide for Foreign Project Paper Language Preparation and Defence,” Plekhanov Russian University of Economics, Moscow, 2014, 32 p.

12.     I. Ekareva, “ Macmillan Life Skills,” Macmillan Education, 2014, 12 p.


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