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EL Asia Pacific: Brexit – the jury’s out

Terry Philips surveys forty UK ESP providers to find out if the vote to leave the EU has had any effect.

ESP is alive and well in the UK, with 69 per cent of respondents saying that the trend was level or positive. Sarah Wall of Anglolang Academy has noticed a decrease in demand for some ESP courses but says that, for her centre, there has been a steady increase in the demand for ESP teacher training courses.

With regard to Brexit, most respondents said it was too soon to tell what effect the vote will have. Bob Robertson of Robertson Languages International made the point that people will always trade internationally so there will always be a need for business language training.

Of those willing to assess the effect of Brexit, the majority thought it had been positive, but probably because of the resultant fall in the pound. John Barnett from CAE Professional Centre pointed out that any fall has a larger effect in real terms on more expensive courses such as ESP programmes, so this may be the reason for the upturn in bookings for those for the autumn.

Business remains the top-selling ESP course for 92 per cent of responding providers, but most did one or more other type of ESP, including aviation, law, medicine, oil and gas and military (see graph). terrygraph

The main nationalities are all European, with only Norwegians, Russians, Turks, Japanese and Saudi Arabians being cited from outside the EU.

There is clearly a widespread recognition that an ESP course is very different from general English, requiring different approaches such as English plus, one-to-one or negotiated syllabuses. Sarah Byrne from English in Chester said that combination courses of general English and ESP are popular, with one-to-one classes for specialised English. This is in line with the comment from Kevin McNally of Torquay International School that there is no such thing as a ‘generic’ ESP student anymore so it is essential to tailor all courses to individual needs.

Mark Henwood of MLS makes the related point that the real strength of an ESP course lies in the ability of teachers to negotiate and adapt lessons to student needs. Sarah Tew from BEET Language Centre said they don’t have a stand-alone ESP programme but their options programme includes ESP with business, media, music and film, and travel and tourism.

Thanks to all the other centres which responded, especially York Associates, Lydbury English Centre, Severndale Academy, Frances King School and London School of English, Canterbury