PART I: INTRODUCTION
The status of English has turned a significant percentage of the world’s population.
In addition to General English, English for Specific Purposes (ESP) has been gaining an
increasing importance and it has grown to become one of the most prominent areas of the
Teaching of English as Foreign or Second Language (TEFL/TESL). Ewer (1976: 247)
believes that “the teaching of English for scientific, technological and technical purposes is
of comparatively recent growth as specialized activity, but it is now emerging as one of the
most rapidly expanding and important branches of TEFL/TESL today”.
To meet the demand of the learners, many ESP programmes have been designed.
Together with the worldwide trend to learn ESP, the teaching staff of Foreign Languages
Department at Vinh University collected documents and designed some ESP programmes
for some specific fields, including the ESP programme for Construction which was first
taught for K.46 Construction Engineering students at Vinh University.
Besides an effort to offer the learners with the ESP programme according to their
specific needs, it is necessary to implement an evaluation. Furthermore, the fact is that the
ESP programme for Construction designed by the teaching staff of Foreign Languages at
Vinh University was first taught for K.46 Construction Engineering students at Vinh
University and it received some learners’ evaluative comments while it was in the progress.
Therefore, it is necessary to have an evaluation on the ESP programme for Construction at
Vinh University carried out by the learners themselves as Wallace (1991: 163)‘s thought
“One source of evaluation will obviously be the trainees themselves”.
2. AIMS AND SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The study is aimed at researching Construction Engineering students’ evaluation on
the ESP programme at Vinh University in terms of audience, aims, time allocation,
contents and methodology in order to determine whether the ESP programme for
Construction is suitable to the learners’ abilities and needs.
Significantly, the process of this ESP programme evaluation can be seen as a way
of developing our understanding of the ways in which it works and, in doing so, of
contributing to both acquisition theory and pedagogic practices. Hence, the teachers would
find ways to do interesting things in their teaching ESP in order to realize all the potentials
embedded in the programme.
It is hoped that the findings of this study and some suggestions would contribute in
improving the ESP programme for Construction at Vinh University to make it more
suitable for the learners’ needs and abilities in the coming years.
3. RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The study aims to find out the answers to the following questions:
1) What are the learners’ evaluative comments on the ESP programme for
Construction at Vinh University?
2) What are the learners’ needs for learning ESP at Vinh University?
3) How should the ESP programme for Construction at Vinh University be
improved to make it more suitable to the learners’ abilities and needs?
4. METHOD OF THE STUDY
This minor thesis uses a number of books concerning ESP and evaluation. The
research method used is the survey. The data collection instrument is questionnaire. The
practical data from K46 Construction Engineering students at Vinh University forms basis
for this study.
5. SCOPE OF THE STUDY
Within its scope, this research mainly focuses on the learners’ evaluation of the ESP
programme at Vinh University such as: the time allocation, the topics of the ESP reading
texts, the length of the ESP reading texts, the amount of technical vocabulary contained in
each ESP reading text, the level of difficulty in grammar, the usefulness of exercises, the
most difficult type of exercises, the satisfaction towards practice through exercises, the
achievements after finishing the programme, and the satisfaction towards needs after
finishing the programme.
Basing on the findings and the learners’ needs, it provides some suggestions to
improve the ESP programme for Construction at Vinh University.
Its major object is K46 Construction Engineering students of Technology
Department at Vinh University.
6. DESIGN OF THE STUDY
The minor thesis is composed of three main parts: introduction, development and
The introduction presents the rationale, aims and significance, research questions,
method of the study, scope of the study, as well as design of the study.
The development consists of three chapters:
- Chapter I, “Literature Review”, provides the relevant theories: an overview of
ESP (definition of ESP, classification of ESP and the development of ESP), evaluation
(terminology definition, types of programme evaluation, purposes for evaluation, criteria
for evaluation and central questions in programme evaluation design) and learner-
centeredness in ESP.
- Chapter II, “An overview of English for Construction at Vinh University”,
presents background information about English for Construction at Vinh University,
including in the teaching and learning situation, a description of current ESP programme
for Construction and the learners at Vinh University.
- Chapter III, “The study”, describes the methodology employed to collect data for
this thesis at first (participants, data collection instrument and procedure). Then it reports
on the learners’ evaluation of the ESP programme for Construction at Vinh University and
their needs, and shows the major findings. Finally, it provides some suggestions to improve
the ESP programme for Construction at Vinh University.
The conclusion presents what have been found out from the study and the
limitations and suggestions for further study.
PART II: DEVELOPMENT
CHAPTER 1: LITERATURE REVIEW
This chapter aims to provide a theoretical base to develop an operational framework
for programme evaluation. The first part presents an overview of ESP with regards to
definition, the classification and the development of the ESP. The second part discusses
about evaluation, concerning in terminology definition, types of programme evaluation,
purposes for evaluation, criteria for evaluation and central questions in programme
evaluation design. The third part relates to the learner-centeredness in ESP.
1.1. AN OVERVIEW OF ESP
1.1.1. Definition of ESP
ESP has been defined by different researchers as well as scholars’ different views.
According to Hutchinson and Waters (1987: 19), ESP must be seen as an approach,
not as a product. In their opinion, ESP is not a particular kind of language or methodology,
nor does it consist of a particular type of teaching material.
However, Strevens (1988) defines ESP by making a distinction between four
absolute characteristics and two variable characteristics:
- The absolute characteristics are that ESP consists of ELT (English Language
Teaching) which is:
• designed to meet specified needs of the learners;
• related in content (that is in its themes and topics) to particular disciplines,
occupations and activities;
• centred on language appropriate to those activities in syntax, lexis,
discourse, semantics and so on, and analysis of the discourse;
• in contrast with ‘General English’.
- The variable characteristics are that ESP
• may be restricted as to the learning skills to be learned (for example
• may not be taught according to any pre-ordained methodology.
(Source: Strevens, 1988; cited in Dudley-Evans and St John, 1998: 3)
Robinson (1991) ‘s definition (cited in Dudley-Evans and St John, 1998: 3) is based
on two key defining criteria (i.e. ‘normally goal-directed’ and need analysis) and a number
of characteristics (i.e. limited time period, adults in homogeneous classes) that are
generally found to be true of ESP.
Dudley-Evans and St John (1998: 4-5) comment that above definitions have validity
but also weaknesses, either in the definition or in the features described. They believe that a
definition of ESP should reflect the fact that much ESP teaching, especially where it is
specifically linked to a particular profession or discipline, makes use of a methodology that
differs from that used in General Purpose English teaching. They also believe that language
should be included as a defining feature of ESP.
In summary, all the above definitions show that ESP belongs to English Language
Teaching (ELT). The ESP courses are performed successfully in occupational roles by an
individual or a group whose need is considered to be a distinguished feature from General
1.1.2. Classification of ESP
ESP has traditionally been divided into two main areas: English for Academic
Purposes (EAP) and English for Occupational Purposes (EOP).
According to Robinson (1991), the classification of ESP is generally presented in a
tree diagram as follows:
EOP Simultaneous / In-service
For study in a In study
specific discipline Post-study
As a school subject
Figure 1: ESP classification by experience (Robinson, 1991: 3-4)
The diagram shows a useful division of courses. Those distinctions are very
important and they will affect the degree of specificity that is appropriate to the course.
Dudley-Evans and St John (1998) also present the classification of ESP through a
tree diagram but it divides EAP and EOP according to discipline or professional area as in
the figure 2.
English for Specific Purposes
English for Academic Purposes English for Occupational Purposes
English for English for English for English for English for English for
(Academic) (Academic) (Academic) Management, Professional Vocational
Science and Medical Legal Finance and Purposes Purposes
Technology Purposes Purposes Economics
English for English for Pre- Vocational
Medical Business Vocational English
Purposes Purposes English
Figure 2: ESP classification by professional area (Dudley-Evans and St John 1998: 6)
The tree diagram for ESP by Dudley-Evans and St John (1998) describes that EAP
consists of English for Science and Technology (EST), English for Medical Purposes
(EMP) English for Legal Purposes (ELP) and English for Management, Finance and
Economics. And EOP includes English for Professional Purposes with sub-sections as
English for Medical Purposes (EMP) and English for Business Purposes (EBP) and English
for Vocational Purposes with sub-sections as Pre-Vocational English and Vocational
In short, studying various ways of classifying ESP provides a teacher an overall
picture of the groups of learners with whom he or she is going to work.
1.1.3. The development of ESP
Hutchinson and Waters (1987: 9-14) refer to five stages of the development of ESP
from the early beginnings in the 1960s. They point out that ESP is not a monolithic
universal phenomenon and develops at different speeds in different countries.
The first stage, which took place mainly in the 1960s and early 1970s, is
characterized by the register analysis or the concept of ESP as a special language. The
basic principle of this concept is that the English of Electrical Engineering constitutes a
specific register different from that of Biology or General English and the aim of the
analysis is to identify the grammatical and lexical features of these registers. Teaching
materials then take these linguistic features as their syllabus. English for different purposes
has different registers, and the aim of the analysis is to identify the grammatical and lexical
features of these registers. A good example of a syllabus is “A Course in Basic Scientific
English” by Ewer and Latorre (1969) and their aim is to produce a syllabus which gives
high priority to the language forms students meet in their Science studies and low priority
to forms students do not meet.
Whereas in the first stage of its development, ESP focuses on language at the
sentence level, the second stage of development shifts attention to the level above the
sentence with the emerging field of discourse or rhetorical analysis. Attention shifts to
understanding how sentences are combined in discourse to produce meaning. Therefore,
the concern of research is to identify the organizational patterns in texts and to specify the
linguistic means by which these patterns are signaled. These patterns will then form the
syllabus of the ESP course.
The third stage is characterized by the target situation analysis. The most thorough
explanation of the target situation analysis is the system set out by John Munby in
“Communicative Syllabus Design” (1978). The Munby model produces a detailed profile
of the learners’ needs in term of communication purposes, communicative setting, the
means of communication, language skills, functions, structures, etc. And the target
situation analysis stage marks a certain ‘coming of age’ for ESP. What it aims to do is to
take the existing knowledge and set it on a more scientific basis, by establishing procedures
for relating language analysis more closely to learners’ reasons for learning. This stage also
marks a significant change is that the purpose of an ESP course is to enable learners to
function adequately in a target situation in which the learners will use the language they are
Unlike the above three stages of the development of ESP, mainly looking the
analysis of the learners’ need at the surface linguistic features of the target situation, the
fourth stage of ESP attempts to look below the surface and to consider not the language
itself but the thinking processes that underlie language use. This stage is characterized by
skills and strategies. Hutchinson and Waters (1987: 13) point out a great influence of
researchers’ works (Françoise Grellet (1981)’s, Christine Nuttall (1982)’s and Charles
Alderson and Sandy Urquhart (1984)’s) on developing strategies for reading skills for the
teaching of ESP. The principal idea behind the skills-centred approach is that underlying all
language use there are common reasoning and interpreting processes, which, regardless of
the surface forms, enable us to extract meaning from discourse. There is, therefore, no need
to focus closely on the surface forms of the language. The focus should rather be on the
underlying interpretive strategies, which enable the learner to cope with the surface form,
for example guessing the meaning of words from context, using visual layout to determine
the type of the text, exploiting cognates (i.e. words which are similar in the mother tongue
and the target language) etc.
The fifth stage of ESP development is characterized by the learning-centred
approach which is concerned with “language learning”. The learning-centred approach is
based on the assumption that describes and exemplifies what people do with language will
enable someone to learn it. This is an importance of ESP like Hutchinson and Waters
(1987: 14) say: “A truly valid approach to ESP must be based on an understanding of the
processes of language learning”.
In summary, ESP undergoes five stages of the development with various
characteristics for each stage. The examples of all approaches which were described above
can be found operating somewhere in the world at the present time.
1.2.1. Terminology definition
There are many definitions of evaluation. Fundamentally, evaluation is asking
questions and acting on the responses.
Rea-Dickins and Germaine (1992: 3- 4) believe that evaluation is an intrinsic part of
teaching and learning. It is important for the teacher because it can provide a wealth of
information to use for the future direction of classroom practice, for the planning of
courses, and for the management of learning tasks and students. Evaluation is also
considered as a ‘natural activity’; something that is very much part of our daily existence
and it can be very formal or informal. It is also something that may not always be made
explicit but may actually be undertaken unconsciously.
Dudley-Evans and St John (1998: 128) define that “Evaluation is a whole process
which begins with determining what information to gather and ends with bringing about
change in current activities or influencing future ones”. They believe that evaluation must
be more than collecting and analyzing data. They describe evaluation as formative or
summative. Evaluation which takes place during the lifetime of an activity /a course and
the findings help to shape the course during its life-time is called formative evaluation.
Summative evaluation takes place at (or after) the end of an activity and so does not
influence that version of the activity. Its purpose is to assess impact and to provide
information that can be fed into repeat versions or related activities. Therefore, summative
evaluation is valuable for durable courses.
Hedge (2000: 351) refers to the term “evaluation” as “the assessment of students at
the end of a course, but in recent years its meaning has widened to include all aspects of a
programme”. Evaluation can relate to courses and learners in a number of ways: (1) It can
try to judge the course as it is planned; (2) It can try to observe, describe, and assess what
actually happening in classroom as a course progresses; (3) It can test what learners have
learned from a course.
In summary, evaluation relates to courses and learners. It has been widened to
include the aspects of a programme and it should be carried out at the end of the courses.
The aspect of the programme which is chosen to evaluate depends on the purpose of the
1.2.2. Types of programme evaluation
According to Stufflebeam (1971), there are four types of programme evaluation
which are identified as: context evaluation, input evaluation, process evaluation and
The table below is the CIPP model for programme evaluation by Stufflebeam
Table 1: The CIPP model for programme evaluation
Context evaluation Input evaluation Process evaluation Product evaluation
To define the institutional context, to
identify the target population and assess
their needs, to identify opportunities for
addressing the needs, to diagnose
problems and to judge if proposed
objectives are sufficiently responsive to
To identify and assess system
procedural design for
implementing the strategies,
budges and schedules.
To identified and predict, in
process, defects in the procedural
design or its implementation; to
provide information for
preprogrammed decision, and to
record and judge procedural
events and activities.
To collect descriptions and
judgements of outcomes, and
to relate them to objectives
and context, input, and
process information to
interpret their worth and
By using such methods as system
analysis, survey, document review,
hearing, interviews, diagnostic tests and
By inventorying and analyzing
available human and material
resources, solution strategies
and procedural designs for
By monitoring the activity’s
potential procedural barriers and
remaining alert to unanticipated
ones, by obtaining specific
By defining operationally and
measuring outcome criteria,
by collecting judgements of
outcomes from stakeholders,
relevance, feasibility, and
economy. And by using such
methods as literature search,
visits to exemplary
programme, advocate teams,
and pilot trials.
information for programmed
decisions, by describing the
actual process and by continually
interacting with and observing
the activities of project staff.
and by performing both
qualitative and quantitative
Relation to decision marking in the change process
For deciding on the setting to be served,
the goals associated with meeting needs
or using opportunities, and the
objectives associated with solving
problems, i.e., for planning needed
changes. And to provided a basis for
For selecting sources of
support, solution strategies, and
procedural design, i.e., for
structuring change activities.
And to provide a basis for
For implementing and refining
the programme design and
procedure, i.e., for effecting
process control. And to provide a
log of the actual process for later
use in interpreting outcomes.
For deciding to continue,
terminate, modify, or refocus
a change activity. And to
present a clear record of
effects (intended and
unintended, positive and
A procedure in which a set of questions or tasks is sent out to experts in the field. The collective responses are then collated and
(Source: Stufflebeam, 1971; cited in Nunan, 1992: 194-195 )
Tomlinson (1998) divides programme evaluation into macro- and micro-evaluation
task evaluation of evaluation
of evaluation, sequencing levels of
etc. practice, ect. participation
Figure 3: Macro- and micro-evaluation in language teaching (Tomlinson, 1998: 219)
It is necessary for the evaluator to study the types of programme evaluation because
it can help him or her decide what type of evaluation he or she would like to conduct in
specific situations and for purposes of evaluation.
1.2.3. Purposes for evaluation
Evaluation plays a very important role in the improvement of a language
programme. There is no language programme which can be completely useful to all
Evaluation is a matter of judging the fitness of something for a particular purpose,
and then it is concerned with relative merit. Hutchinson and Waters (1987: 96) emphasizes
that “There is no absolute good or bad – only degrees of fitness for the required purpose”.
In any kind of evaluation, the decision finally made is likely to be the better for being based
on a systematic check of all the important variables. Hutchinson and Waters (1987: 97) also
believe that a careful evaluation can save a lot of expense and frustration.
Rea-Dickins and Germaine (1992) identify a number of different purposes for
evaluation. They divide evaluation into two broad categories: general purposes; and
specific, topic-related purposes.
- For general purposes of evaluation, Rea-Dickins and Germaine (1992) refer to
three principal reasons for which evaluation may be undertaken as follows:
2. curriculum development and betterment
3. self-development: teachers and other language teaching professionals.
(Rea-Dickins and Germaine, 1992: 23)
In their discussion about the general purposes of evaluation, they emphasize
that evaluation for purposes of accountability is mainly concerned with determining
whether there has been value for money; Evaluation for purposes of curriculum
development will involve information from teachers and other relevant ELT
professionals; Evaluation for purposes of teacher self-development involves in
describing and better understanding the teachers’ own contexts with a view to
improving the teaching.
- For specific, topic-related purposes of evaluation, Rea-Dickins and Germaine
(1992) consider evaluation as the means by which we can gain a better
understanding of what is effective, what is less effective, and what appears to be of
no use at all.
Hedge (2000: 352) refers to the purposes of evaluation are for accountability and
for development. The purpose which evaluates for accountability is to make staff and / or
institutions answerable to authorities and / or sponsors and evaluation for development
aims at improving to the current programme as well as to future programme.
In summary, it is necessary to evaluate aspects of a language programme in order to
understand how the programme works and how successfully it works. The results of
evaluation enable the different kinds of decision to be made about the programme, such as:
to decide whether to continue the programme or not or to improve the programme to make
it more useful.
1.2.4. Criteria for evaluation
126.96.36.199. Criteria defined by Hutchinson and Waters (1987)
Hutchinson and Waters (1987: 99-104) suggest five evaluation criteria for objective
and subjective analysis which are summarized as follows:
- Audience: the learners and the materials intended for.
- Aims: the aims of the course and the aims of the materials.
- Content: language description, language points, proportion of work on each
macro- skill, micro-skills, text-types, subject-matter area(s) (level of knowledge,
types of topics, treatment), organization of content within the course units, sequence
of content throughout the course, sequence of content within a unit.
- Methodology: theory/ies of learning, aspects of the learners’ attitudes to /
expectations about learning, kinds of exercises/tasks, teaching-learning techniques,
aids, guidance/support for teaching the course, the flexibility.
- Other criteria: price, quantities, availability.
188.8.131.52. Criteria defined by Sheldon (1988)
Sheldon (1988) (cited in Hedge, 2000: 367-371) presents the list of evaluation
criteria including: rationale, availability, user definition, layout/graphics, accessibility,
linkage, selection/grading, physical characteristics, appropriacy, authenticity, sufficiency,
cultural bias, education validity, stimulus/practice revision, flexibility, guidance, and
overall value for money.
184.108.40.206. Criteria defined by Ur (1996)
Ur (1996: 184) lists as examples of general criteria and specific criteria: general
criteria (i.e. clear layout and print, provides periodic review or test sections) and specific
criteria (i.e. attractive and colourful illustrations (which may be particularly relevant for
younger learners), vocabulary and texts relevant to topic (if the materials are intended for
students of science and technology)).
220.127.116.11. Criteria defined by Tomlinson (1999)
Tomlinson (1999, cited in McGrath, 2002: 32) takes the definition of criteria a step
further, suggesting four categories of specific criteria: (1) Media-specific criteria (i.e. those
which related to the particular medium used. In reference to audio-recorded material, for
instance, one might consider the audibility of the recording; (2) Content-specific criteria
(i.e. those which related to the nature of the material, such as the choice of topics, situations
or language in a business English book or the texts included and skills covered in a book
focusing on the development of reading skills; (3) Age-specific criteria (i.e. the suitability
of the material (e.g. visuals, cognitive challenge) for the age-group for which it is
intended); (4) Local criteria (i.e. the appropriateness of the material for the particular
environment in which it is to be used).
18.104.22.168. Criteria defined by McGrath (2002)
McGrath (2002: 32-33) discusses criteria for evaluation to be “from general to
specific”. In his view, one way of thinking about general criteria is as headings or ways of
summarizing sets of more specific criteria and the specific criteria can only be determined
on the basis of individual circumstances. He sets out a possible basic set of such criteria
which consists of: Practical considerations (all components available; affordable; multi-
level); Support for teaching and learning (additional components (teacher’s book, tests,
cassettes), suitable or self-study); Context-relevance (suitable for course (length of course,
aims of course, syllabus, exam), suitable for learners (age, level, cultural background),
suitable for teacher, required resources available, evidence of suitability); Likely appeal to
learners (layout, visuals, topics, suitable over medium term).
In short, studying criteria is very important when an evaluation is carried out. One
essential issue is that a wide variety of relevant and appropriate criteria for the evaluation
of the ESP programme should be established and applied to evaluate the suitability of the
programme to the learners’ needs and abilities.
1.2.5. Central questions in programme evaluation design
Nunan (1992: 196) makes a list of questions which needs to deal with some
practical issues in programme evaluation as follows:
• What is the purpose of the evaluation?
• Who is the audience for the evaluation?
• What principles of procedure should guide the evaluation?
• What tools, techniques, and instruments are appropriate?
• Who should carry out the evaluation?
• When should it be carried out?
• What is the time frame and budget for the evaluation?
• How should the evaluation be reported?
It is useful to studying Nunan ‘s (1992) central questions in programme evaluation
design before evaluating so that all factors that need evaluating will be covered.
1.3. LEARNER-CENTEREDNESS IN ESP
1.3.1. Learner-centered approach
Hutchinson and Waters (1987: 19) state ESP as “an approach”, not as “a product” to
stress the commonality of the language and learning in which the learners are centered. The
learner-centered approach is based on the principle that learning is totally determined by
the learner. Learning is seen as a process in which the learners use what knowledge or
skills they have in order to make sense of the flow of new information. Learning, therefore,
is an internal process, which is crucially dependent upon the knowledge the learners
already have and their ability and motivation to use it. Learning should be seen in the
context in which it takes place. Learning is not just metal process; it is a process of
negotiation between individuals and society. Society sets a target (in the case of ESP,
performance in the target situation) and the individuals must do their best to get as close to
that target as is possible (or reject it). The learners will certainly determine their own route
to the target and the speed at which they travel the route, but that does not make the target
unimportant. The target still has a determining influence on the possible routes. Hutchinson
and Waters (1987:19) emphasize that ESP is understood properly as an approach to
language learning, which based on learner need.
Historically, approaches to course design were developed from language-
centeredness to skill-centeredness and then to learner-centeredness. Hutchinson and Waters
(1987: 72-76) make a comparison about the approaches to course design to show the
embracing feature of the learner-centered approach: A language-centered approach only
determines the ESP course as the nature of the target situation performance; A skill-
centered approach determines the ESP course as the nature of the target situation
performance and looking behind the target performance data to discover what processes
enable someone to perform; A learner- centered approach determines the ESP course as the
nature of the target situation performance, looking behind the target performance data to
discover what processes enable someone to perform, and looking beyond the competence
that enables someone to perform, because what we really want to discover is not the
competence itself, but how someone acquires that competence.
1.3.2. Learner-centered courses
The learner-centered courses are different from other courses. These courses pay
greater attention to the process of learning and they allow for learners’ preference on what
should be taught.
Brumfit (1984: 7) states that an ESP course is a direct factor concerning with
purposes of the learners: “First, it is clear that an ESP course is directly concerned with the
purpose for which learners need English, purposes for which are usually expressed in
functional terms. ESP fits firmly within the general movement towards ‘communicative’
teaching of the last decade or so”. Any learner learns for his or her own purposes. He or she
wants to learn what he or she needs. That appears more clearly in ESP learning. The ESP
learners aim to learn about their specific fields.
Hutchinson and Waters (1987: 16) distinguish ESP courses by the general nature of
the learners’ specialism and they divide ESP into three large categories basing on the
learners’ specialism: EST (English for Science and Technology), EBE (English for
Business and Economics) and ESS (English for the Social Sciences).
Nunan (1988) develops the learner-centered courses within an adult ESP context
basing on the principles of learner-centeredness. He assumes that “in most learning context,
it is impossible to teach learners everything they need to know in classes. Little class time
therefore must be used effectively to teach those aspects of the language which the learners
consider to be ‘mostly urgently required’” (Nunan, 1988: 3).
Schleppegrell (1994: 233)’ opinion about the learners in an ESP course is to bring
to class a reason for learning English and a real life context for its use; the learners should
have knowledge of the specific vocation the course is addressing and well-developed
In summary, chapter I has presented an overview of ESP and evaluation. The
purposes for evaluation, criteria for evaluation central questions in programme evaluation
design and the learner-centered in ESP imply that those are issues to carry out a programme
evaluation in which the learners are centered.
CHAPTER 2: AN OVERVIEW OF ENGLISH FOR CONSTRUCTION
AT VINH UNIVERSITY
Chapter 2 provides background information about English for Construction at Vinh
University, including in the teaching and learning situation, a description of current ESP
programme for Construction and the learners at Vinh University.
2.1. THE TEACHING AND LEARNING SITUATION OF ENGLISH FOR
CONSTRUCTION AT VINH UNIVERSITY
Russian was the dominant for foreign languages taught at Vinh University
(previously called Vinh Pedagogical College) for a long time. After the collapse of the
Soviet block, little attention was paid to the teaching and learning of Russian. Therefore,
English has become most popular foreign language taught in Vietnam in general and at
Vinh University in particular.
According to the curriculum designed by the Ministry of Education and Training,
English is a compulsory subject. At first, General English gained much more attention than
English for Specific Purposes. In 2000, Vinh Pedagogical College was renamed as Vinh
University and, since then English for Specific Purposes gained an increasing importance
in the teaching and learning English. However, General English was taught in the first three
courses and then ESP was taught in the fourth one. The teachers used the ESP materials of
universities in Hanoi for the teaching in the fourth course.
In recent years, with the requirement of the improvements in education in general
and with the learners’ needs in particular, the teaching staff of Foreign Languages
Department at Vinh University collected documents and designed the current ESP
programme for Construction which was first taught for K.46 Construction Engineering
students at Vinh University.
2.2. A DESCRIPTION OF CURRENT ESP PROGRAMME FOR CONSTRUCTION
AT VINH UNIVERSITY
The teaching staff of Foreign Languages Department at Vinh University collected
to design the ESP programme for Construction. The ESP materials which were used for
designing the programme are: English for Science and Technology – Architecture and
Building Construction by James Cumming; English for Architecture and Construction
compiled by Vi Thị Quốc Khánh, Nguyễn Thuý Vân, Nguyễn Thị Thu Hải and Trần Tuyết
Lan; Tiếng Anh trong Xây Dựng và Kiến Trúc compiled by Võ Như Cầu.
Many English texts for Construction are chosen from those materials to create the
ESP programme at Vinh University.
The ESP programme for Construction at Vinh University consists of 4 courses and
it is described as follows:
- Time allocation:
+ Course 1: The time allocated for English course 1 is 75 periods and the
time for ESP is the time for reading because the reading texts from units 4-6
in the textbook Headway-Elementary by Liz and John Soars are replaced by
some passages/ conversations relating to Architect and Construction.
+ Course 2: The time allocated for English course 2 is 75 periods and the
time for ESP is the time for reading because the reading texts from units 7-
12 in the textbook Headway-Elementary by Liz and John Soars are replaced
by some texts / dialogues relating to Construction.
+ Course 3: The time allocated for English course 3 is 75 periods. At first,
the time for ESP is the time for reading because the reading texts from units
13-15 in the textbook Headway-Elementary by Liz and John Soars are
replaced by the ESP reading texts. Then the time is only for ESP because six
other ESP reading texts are chosen to teach for the rest of the course.
+ Course 4 (only for ESP): The time allocated for the course 4 is 45
periods. There are 7 units in this course and each unit lasts 6 periods. 3
periods left is used for a mid-term test and revision.
- Contents: The contents of the ESP programme for Construction at Vinh University
is described in the following table:
Table 2: The description of the contents of the ESP programme for Construction at Vinh University
Course 1 Course 2 Course 3 Course 4
Topics The plans of single-storey
house and two-storey house
Description of a Building,
Properties, The Layout of Frames,
Steel Beams, Types of
Construction and Building
Concrete, External Walls,
Stability of Concrete Block Walls,
The Structural Elements of a
Building, Columns and other
Compression Members, Frames,
Arches, Roofs, Slabs and Floors
Aggregates, Reinforcing Steels,
Precast Units, Drilling, The
Driving of Piles, Placing
Concrete, Settlement of
about 60 - over 100 words about over 160 - 450 words about 140 - 200 words (for 3 ESP
reading texts); about 375 - 450
words (for 6 ESP texts later)
about 350 - 430 words
Grammar Present Simple (active and
passive), Prepositions of
position, There is/are
The Passive (present simple, can),
Relative Pronoun “which”,
have to / must
Transitive verbs and Intransitive
verbs, Present Perfect and Present
Perfect Continuous, Modals: must,
should, should be, may/might,
can/could, Conditional Sentences,
Present Participle and Past
Compound Nouns, Relative
Clauses, Passives, Infinitives,
answering questions, true(T)/
questions, verb tenses, translation
answering questions, gap-filling,
verb tenses, translation
2.3. THE LEARNERS
The K46 Construction Engineering students of Technology Department - Vinh
University are aged from 20 to 27. Most of them are at the ages 22, 23 and 24. They have
been learning English for the time period of 2 to 12 years. Those factors seem to be their
advantages in learning English.
However, those students have some disadvantages in learning English. Two main
disadvantages are described as follows:
- The first disadvantage is about the students’ language background. They come
from different parts of the country. Some of them come from the rural areas; the
others come from cities and towns. The students who come from cities have learned
English a lot at schools before going to university, whereas the others have learned
only little even there some students have never learned English before entering
Vinh University. This mixture has caused certain problems to teaching and learning
because some students find classroom activities relaxing while the others find those
activities too hard in the same class. The common observation is the students who
know English a lot are active and the students who know little are shy or passive
during the class time. It is a challenge for the teachers in such a mixed class because
the teachers cannot satisfy all students’ needs.
- The second disadvantage is about the students’ typical learning styles. They
usually depend on the teachers. The students prefer written work. The dominant
method of teaching is the transmission model in which the teachers say or read or
write and the students copy. Another learning style is that the students are not in the
habit of using dictionaries. They prefer everything being translated.
Above advantages and disadvantages make the teachers find out his or her own
methods and techniques in teaching English in general, and ESP in particular for each type
In summary, chapter 2 provides an overview of English for Construction at Vinh
University with the teaching and learning situation, a description of current ESP
programme for Construction and the learners. Those are realities which make this study to
be developed and the findings will be presented in chapter 3.
CHAPTER 3: THE STUDY
This chapter presents a description of the methodology employed to collect data for
this thesis at first (i.e. participants, data collection instrument and procedure). Next to, it
reports the results of the survey (the learners’ evaluation of the ESP programme for
Construction at Vinh University and their needs) and the major findings. Finally, it
provides some suggestions to improve the ESP programme for Construction at Vinh
164 students including 163 male and 1 female of K46 Construction Engineering of
Technology – Vinh University were invited to participate in the survey. These students are
from two classes (46K1 and 46K2). They are in the third-year and they have the same
English proficiency level. At the time when I did the data collection, they had finished four
English courses with their subject matter relating to Construction. Those students think that
the learning of ESP is very important (83%) and important (17%). Their main purposes of
learning ESP are: to be able to read and translate ESP texts/documents (67.1%); to widen
ESP vocabulary (20.7%); to learn grammar (6.7%) and for the others (5.5).
3.1.2. Data collection instrument
Questionnaire is used as an instrument to collect data for this study. I discussed with
two groups of students chosen randomly to get some information about their evaluative
comments and their needs before designing the questionnaire.
The questionnaire is designed without requiring informing the students’ names. The
questions in the questionnaire are presented in English and then Vietnamese in the
brackets. The responses for questions are mainly designed by the “multiple-choice” form.
The questionnaire (see Appendix 1) consists of three sections:
- Section 1 was designed to get the information about the learners: gender, age, the
time of learning English, the thought of the importance of learning ESP, and the main
purpose of learning ESP.
- Section 2 was designed to collect the information on the learners’ evaluation of
the ESP for Construction at Vinh university; relating to the time allocated for the learning
ESP in the courses, the contents and general evaluation.
- Section 3 was designed to gather the information about the learners’ needs.
164 questionnaires were administered to K46 Construction Engineering students
while they were in their classrooms. The teacher guided to the students how to write the
answers. The teacher also helped them remember the programme when they asked. They
spent about one hour on remembering, thinking and answering the questions. After they
finished, the teacher collected their questionnaires to gather and analyze the data.
3.2. DATA ANALYSIS AND DISCUSSION
3.2.1. Learners’ evaluation of the ESP programme for Construction at Vinh
22.214.171.124. Learners’ evaluation on the time allocation for ESP in the courses
As mentioned in previous chapter, time allocated for the courses 1, 2, and 3 is 75
periods for each and the time for ESP is the time for reading because the reading texts in
the textbook are replaced by the ESP reading texts. And the time for the course 4 (only for
ESP) is 45 periods. The learners’ evaluation on the time allocation in the courses is
presented in the following chart:
Chart 1: Learners’ evaluation on the time allocation for ESP in the courses
As shown in chart 1, over half of the learners (66.5%) evaluate the time allocated
for the first course is enough and about half of the learners (51.8%) evaluate the time
allocated for the second course is enough while 43.3% the learners think that the time
allocated for the third course is little and 50.6% the learners think that the time allocated for
the fourth course is little. There are not any learners who complain that the time allocated
for the courses is too much and much. In general, the figures in chart 1 show an evaluation
as: For most of learners, the time allocated for ESP in the courses 1 and 2 is enough and the
time allocated for ESP in the courses 3 and 4 is little.
126.96.36.199. Learners’ evaluation on the ESP reading texts
Usually, the main purpose of the ESP programme is to help the learners be able to
use English for their professional purposes, especially to read professional documents in
their specific fields. The ESP programme for Construction at Vinh University was designed
with the ESP reading texts which are evaluated by the learners in charts 2, 3 and 4
Considering the topics of the ESP reading texts, the figures are revealed in chart 2:
Chart 2: Learners’ evaluation on the usefulness of the topics of the ESP reading texts in
As shown in chart 2, no one thinks that the topics of the ESP reading texts in the
courses 1, 3 and 4 are not very useful and useless. There is a few who thinks that the topics
of the ESP reading texts in the course 2 are not very useful and useless (4.3% the learners
think that the topics of the ESP reading texts in the course 2 are not very useful and only
0.6% the learners think that the topics of the ESP reading texts in the course 2 are useless).
Most of the learners think that the topics of the ESP reading texts are useful (95.1% the
learners think that the topics of the ESP reading texts in the course 1 are useful; 90.8% the
learners think that the topics of the ESP reading texts in the course 2 are useful; 94.5% the
learners think that the topics of the ESP reading texts in the course 3 are useful; 70.7% the
learners think that the topics of the ESP reading texts in the course 4 are useful and 13.4%
the learners think that the topics of the ESP reading texts in the course 4 are very useful. In
general, those figures show that the learners satisfy with the topics of the ESP reading texts
in the courses.
Considering the length of the ESP reading texts, the figures are revealed in chart 3:
Chart 3: Learners’ evaluation on the length of the ESP reading texts in the courses
The figures in chart 3 indicate that no one thinks that the ESP reading texts of the
course 1 are long as well as no one thinks that the ESP reading texts of the courses 2, 3, and
4 are short. While the length of the ESP reading texts in the courses 1 is evaluated to be
OK, the length of the ESP reading texts in the courses 2, 3 and 4 is evaluated to be long.
One noticed thing that over half of the learners (65.2%) find the length of the ESP reading
texts in the course 1 suitable while over half of the learners (67.7%) complain about the