Converging trends? Cultures of teaching and learning in English for Specific Purposes in the UK and France

Converging trends? Cultures of teaching and learning in English for Specific Purposes in the UK and France
In this talk I examine links between the development of English for specific purposes (ESP) teaching and learning in the UK and in France in the latter part of the twentieth century, a period described by Swales (2013: 137) as a “golden age” for applied linguistics in the British Council which marks the beginning of the history of ESP in its current form (Whyte, 2022). In previous work I have investigated the roots of ESP from a British perspective, showing how the pioneering milestones in our field marked out by figures such as John Swales, Tim Johns, and Tony Dudley-Evans were made possible by groundwork laid in the 1960s by the first British applied linguists. The contributions of linguists like Henry Widdowson, John Munby and David Wilkins also informed the development of general English language teaching, underpinning the introduction of communicative language teaching and the beginnings of the common European framework which is our reference for language teaching and testing today.
The evolution of l’anglais de spécialité in France shows some parallels as well as divergent development with respect to dimensions such as the practitioner-theorist divide, links between specialised and generalist teaching and learning, and applied linguistic versus discourse analytical approaches. Similarities and differences on each side of the Channel also emerge with respect to teacher and learner roles, teacher education and teaching materials, and educational culture more broadly. This talk offers a panorama of this shared culture in ESP teaching and learning, drawing on contemporary articles and textbooks as well as retrospective memoirs, highlighting the influence of policy and practice but also unplanned and serendipitous developments, and showing how our common histories continue to play out in ESP today.
Swales, J. M. (2013). Incidents in an educational life: A memoir (of sorts). Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.
Whyte, S. (2022). The British Juggernaut: ESP Practice and Purpose in the 1970s. In Smith, R., & Doff, S. (Eds.). Policies and Practice in Language Learning and Teaching: 20th century historical practices. (pp. 237-260). Amsterdam University Press.

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