ESP Symposium at Hiroshima University

This page is for the presentation by Ken Urano at the online symposium titled English for Specific Purposes: Emerging Challenges and Possibilities in Higher Education on March 5, 2021, hosted by the Institute for Foreign Language Research and Education, Hiroshima University.


Designing task-based ESP syllabi: Two cases from an English for business purposes program


Even though the number of people who actually use English in their lives is rather small in Japan, there is a certain demand for training of English for Specific Purposes (ESP) in such fields as engineering, medicine, and business, where communication in English is sometimes unavoidable. An increasing number of universities are offering ESP courses to accommodate the future needs of their students. One way to design an ESP course is to adopt task-based language teaching (TBLT). TBLT is a goal-oriented approach to language teaching, and is therefore compatible with ESP, which is by definition goal-oriented.

In this talk, I will report on an ongoing attempt to design and implement task-based syllabi at my workplace, where students learn English for business purposes. I will first introduce theoretical and empirical bases for task-based syllabus design, and show the actual process of syllabus and material design for two of the business English courses I teach, one for business email writing and the other for business presentation.

Presentation Slides [PDF] (7.2MB)


  • Ellis, R. (2003). Task-based language learning and teaching. Oxford University Press.
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  • Heaton, J. (1997). Beginning composition through pictures. Harlow, UK: Longman.
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  • Long, M. H. (2005). Methodological issues in learner needs analysis. In M. H. Long (ed.), Second language needs analysis (pp. 19–76). Cambridge University Press.
  • Long, M. (2015). Second language acquisition and task-based language teaching. Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell. 
  • Naito, H., Yoshida, M., Iida, M., Miura, H., Sakabe, T., Shibata, A., et al. (2007). Hokkaido-no sangyokai-niokeru Eigo-no niizu. [The needs of the English language in the industries in Hokkaido.] Kitahiroshima: JACET ESP Hokkaido.
  • Robinson, P. (2001). Task complexity, task difficulty, and task production: Exploring interactions in a componential framework. Applied Linguistics, 22, 27–57.
  • Shiokawa, H. (2012). Bijinesu eibun meru nyumon: Kaisetsu toeEnshu. [Introduction to English business email: Explanation and practice. [Kindle] Retrieved from:

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