The 1st International Conference on Language, Education and Psychology 2015
ISBN 978-967-13140-4-3

Implementing Subject-Specific English Enhancement Courses at University: Challenges and Solutions in the Hong Kong Context

Catherine Yan Yan LIN

The Hong Kong Institute of Education


The significant increase of EMI (English as the Medium of Instruction) courses in tertiary education in Hong Kong has led to a demand of adopting ESP (English for Specific Purposes) Approach to develop English enhancement courses for university students. Employing this approach could cater for students’ language learning needs, not only improving General English proficiency but also mastering specialized English in their target field to cope with academic studies and perform profession-related tasks. While it is true that ESP courses would meet university students’ expectations on tertiary English courses, its implementation in reality poses serious challenges for the teachers. For example, writing or selecting appropriate teaching materials is a critical concern as language teachers may lack of expertise in various disciplines and there may not be published ESP materials that deal with the particular domain of the target learners. Based on this, this paper aims to discuss the challenges that tertiary ESP practitioners encounter in application and what professional support is needed to help them solve the problems observed. The paper will discuss the characteristics of ESP that affect the roles of the teachers; then it will explore the challenges in course design, materials development and cooperation with subject specialists in the Hong Kong context. The last part of the paper will focus on how to support ESP practitioners to overcome the challenges to maximize the benefit of adopting ESP Approach in university English enhancement courses.


the ESP Approach, ESP practitioners, university English enhancement courses, challenges, solutions

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