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Review of  Ideas and Options in English for Specific Purposes

Reviewer: Ingrid Mosquera Gende
Book Title: Ideas and Options in English for Specific Purposes
Book Author: Helen Basturkmen
Publisher: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates
Linguistic Field(s): Applied Linguistics
Subject Language(s): English
Issue Number: 17.2190

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AUTHOR: Basturkmen, Helen
TITLE: Ideas and Options in English for Specific Purposes
SERIES: ESL & Applied Linguistics Professional Series
PUBLISHER: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates
YEAR: 2006
ISBN: 0805844171

Dr. Ingrid Mosquera Gende, Department of English Philology, University
of A Coruña, Spain


Dr. Helen Basturkmen is a Senior Lecturer at the University of
Auckland in the Department of Applied Language Studies and
Linguistics. Among her fields of interest and research are discourse
analysis, language education, and investigating postgraduate EAL
students difficulties in structuring and writing theses. This book is
one of her most recent publications along with ''Perceptions of the
Difficulties of Postgraduate L2 Thesis Students Writing the Discussion
Section'' (Bitchener and Basturkmen, 2006), ''Interaction in Group
Writing Tasks in Genre-Based Instruction in an EAP Classroom'' (Loewen
and Basturkmen, 2005), and ''The Text and Beyond: Exploring the
Expectations of the Academic Community for the Discussion of Results
Section of Masters Thesis'' (Basturkmen and Bitchener, 2005). The
present book is geared toward graduate-level TESOL education courses,
but it would be useful for ESP teachers of all educational levels.


The book has three main parts. The first part, entitled
''Preliminaries,'' is intended to introduce the methodology, goals and
potential audience of the book. It includes three chapters: (1)
Introduction, (2) Approach and (3) Issues in ESP course design.

In Chapter 1, the Introduction, Basturkmen presents different
approaches to designing ESP courses and materials, and she also
explains her reasons for the publication of this book. One of them is
the lack of literature on ESP, and the other has to do with ''the
attempts in ESP to reconcile its work with the critical orientation
emerging in applied linguistics at present'' (pp. 5-6). She recognizes
Stern and Giddens as the two main sources of her approach to ESP,
however her discussion is not exclusive to these two; there is
continuous reference to different authors and sources throughout the

In Chapter 2, the author gives a more comprehensive explanation of her
''Data-driven'' approach. In this section, she discusses the work of
Stern and Giddens in more detail, as well as the work of several other
ESP researchers.

Chapter 3 points out some of the main criticisms that modern
approaches to ESP have received, including several dichotomies in
these approaches that are quite difficult to solve. The first
addresses the target language itself, and whether we are dealing with
a common language (with many variations), or many distinct varieties.
Other dichotomies include types of syllabuses (synthetic or analytic),
courses designs (narrow or wide), and the difference between specific
and specifiable elements in ESP. The author does not promote any one
approach, but rather presents the approaches in use today, identifying
them with the different researchers who practice them.

Part 2 of the book, ''Ideas and Options'' is the most extensive (pp.
31-109), and it is divided in three sections: ''Language'' (Chapters
4-6), ''Learning'' (Chapters 7 and 8), and ''Teaching'' (Chapters 9 and

Chapter 4, ''Language Systems'', departs from Hopper's definition of the
term (p. 35) and examines grammar, vocabulary and text organization.
Each of these three core language systems are defined and discussed as
a basis for research and practical application.

Chapter 5, ''Language Uses'', focuses on the fundamental social aspect
of language, discussing pragmatic issues such as speech acts and
social interaction.

Chapter 6, ''Combining Language Descriptions'', provides practical
examples of the approaches identified in chapters 4 and 5.

Chapter 7 ''Conditions for Learning'' addresses the concepts of
acculturation, input and interaction.

Chapter 8, ''Processes of Learning'', is a practical summary of
cognitive and mental processes of learning.

Chapter 9, ''Methodologies'', begins with Stern's concept of
macrostrategies (p. 113). From this point of departure, input and
output strategies are described, and the author gives many examples.

Chapter 10, ''Objectives in Teaching ESP'', examines social and
competence objectives when teaching ESP.

The Third part of the book contains only one chapter, Chapter 11,
entitled ''Synthesis''. Basturkmen explains her Framework for the
analysis of ESP, summarizing the information presented in the book in
a chart (p. 150). She then presents two different case studies to
show how the framework serves as a basis for the analysis and
comparison of both teaching projects.

In addition to these chapters, the book contains a preface, a
substantial reference section, and two useful indexes: one listed by
author and the other by subject.


This book is a fundamental work for those scholars devoted to the
study and teaching of ESP. The body of literature on the teaching of
technical languages is not large, and the literature that exists is
generally theoretical and removed from a possible practical
application. This is not the case with this book, however. Basturkmen
presents complex ideas and explanations about different approaches to
ESP, however she manages to transmit it in a very accessible way.
This accessibility derives in part from the systematic organization of
the book, the many examples she provides, and the sections of each
chapter containing an introduction, critical summary, discussion
questions, and guide for further reading.

The discussion questions, in particular, invite reflection and should
be very useful to the teachers, researchers as well as autonomous
learners. For example, at the end of Chapter 9 (''Methodologies'') the
author provides a set of questions intended to stimulate thinking on
one's methods of teaching. These include: ''What role do the four
macrostrategies described in this chapter play in your own teaching?
Do you tend to use any of the strategies more than others?'' and ''What
use of project work and case method studies do you make in your ESP
teaching? In groups, draw up a list of the advantages and drawbacks of
these activities and discuss ways you would deal with any difficulties
that may emerge.''

On the whole, the book is a valuable and original approach to ESP studies.


Basturkmen, H.L. and Bitchener, J. 2005. The Text and Beyond:
Exploring the Expectations of the Academic Community for the
Discussion of Results Section of Masters Thesis. New Zealand Studies
in Applied Linguistics. 11.1-19.

Bitchener, J. and Basturkmen, H.L. 2006. Perceptions of the
Difficulties of Postgraduate L2 Thesis Students Writing the Discussion
Section. Journal of English for Academic Purposes. 5.4-18.

Loewen, S. and Basturkmen, H.L. 2005. Interaction in Group Writing
Tasks in Genre-Based Instruction in an EAP Classroom. Journal of
Asian Pacific Communication, 15.171-189.

Dr. Ingrid Mosquera Gende teaches ESP at the University of A Coruña,
Spain, as well as internet courses in collaboration with The
University of Islas Baleares, Spain. She has had several research
appointments in Scotland, supervised by specialists such as Professor
Cairns Craig and Robert Crawford. Her research interests include
Translation Studies, ESP, Literature and Education. Besides authoring
several articles in these subject areas, she has new book entitled
"ESP, Vocabulary and Translation in Technical English."

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ISBN: 0805844171
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Pages: 200
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