The ESP teacher also needs to answer the question of how he wants to teach, in other words what methodological approaches, methods, techniques and principles he will use in the ESP course. A number of various approaches can be applied in the lessons, on the other hand for teaching speaking; there should be a special focus on methods allowing learners to practice their fluency skills without worrying about mistakes they might make during their spoken production. From this point of view, methods such as Communicative Approach or Task based Learning might be preferred as they both aim at practicing real situations. To keep students motivated and involved in the lesson, Hutchinson and Waters (1987) suggest using a wide range of techniques like information gaps, variety of activities, topics or learner roles and many others (pp. 139-140).
As for the need’s analysis, Hutchinson and Waters (1987) see the biggest difference between teaching General English and ESP in “The awareness of the target situation — a definable need to communicate in English” (p. 54). They further distinguish between the target needs and learning needs (Hutchinson and Waters, 1987, p. 54). The first one answers the question of what target situation needs to be achieved by learning English, whereas the second rather tells us how the target situation can be achieved. Every good ESP teacher must create analysis of target situation and learning needs, which includes sets of questions that allow the teacher to specify the course needs.
One of the possible and probably most common pitfalls of being a teacher in an ESP class is the fact that students often possess better knowledge on the subject than the teacher himself, which can be seen as a big difference compared to teaching in General English classes. It is natural that no teacher would cope with situation when his students know more than him and he is often unable to answer their questions. Hutchinson and Waters (1987) provide a simple solution in “The ability to ask intelligent questions” (p. 163). The truth is that it would be impossible for the teacher to know everything about the terminology of the specific field of study or how things work there etc. Important is to activate the knowledge of the learners by becoming curious and thus engage learners in conversation where we as Hutchinson and Waters (1987) put it “Become an interested student of the subject matter” (p.163).
Another big problem for ESP teachers might be how to cope with fear of the subject. The fact is that majority of ESP teachers receive their degree at universities with no connection to the area of science, IT, medicine or other specific fields of study. In extreme cases, this fear can lead to alienation and this might be projected in the lessons which are boring and fail to attract students‟ attention and motivate them, consequently resulting in deterioration of the learning process. Hutchinson and Waters (1987) offer several causes why ESP teachers find it difficult to comprehend ESP subject matter:
- There is a tradition in education of separating the Humanities and the Sciences;
- Many ESP teachers are reluctant settlers in new territory;
- Considering the scale of the ESP revolution it must be admitted that little effort has been made to retrain teachers or to at least allay their fears;
- The general attitude in ESP seems to be to expect teachers to conform to the requirements of the target situation. (pp. 162-163).
The truth is that there has always been a huge gap between Humanities and Sciences, instead of cooperating; they developed relatively independently on each other, apart from a few exceptions. Nothing much has changed about it at present time, which is why some ESP teachers might feel uncomfortable teaching such subjects. Moreover, the ESP teachers do not realize they do not have to possess the same knowledge of the field of study, as is their learners‟ target situation as it was discussed above.
Various comparisons could be made between ESP teachers and the General English teachers, the most important of them being the fact that “The ESP teacher is faced by a group of learners with certain expectations as to the nature, content and achievements of the course” (Hutchinson and Waters, 1987, p. 165). It can be admitted that students of ESP classes are often adults who can evaluate their target needs and have different ideas how to reach them then the ESP teachers. These ideas than have to be confronted and discussed so that the purpose of learning process can be achieved.
To sum this article, it can be devised that the role of a teacher in an ESP classroom is not easy. Apart from all the roles of the General English teacher, he often needs to act as a negotiator between the subject matter knowledge he already possesses and the targeted situation needs. To put simply, he must find the balance between what he already knows, how much he should learn and what to elicit from the learners so that everybody feels comfortable in his role and motivated to work and learn.