English for Professional and Academic Purposes

M.F. Ruiz-Garrido, J.C. Palmer-Silveira, I. Fortanet-Gomez. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2010. 237 pages, ISBN: 978-90-420-2955-2

Reviewed by
Masoumeh Mehri & Seyyed Amin Mokhtari

Guilan University & Mazandaran University

English for Professional and Academic Purposes (EPAP, hereafter) aims to offer an overview of several topics within the field of discourse analysis applied to English in academic and professional domains. The volume includes13 chapters on current trends in EPAP and is concerned with two main areas: Academic purposes (EAP) and professional purposes (EPP). EAP refers to students’ academic needs and EPP refers to the actual needs of professionals.

The volume is divided into three sections. Section one includes research on discourse, from very specific language features to more generic studies based on academic genres. The second centers on research and teaching practices in several professional areas, and the third highlights the application of research to the teaching and learning the language of academic and professional settings.

The first section consists of four chapters which focus on the academic writing of international researchers (non-native speakers).The first chapter compares the use of phrasal verbs in Sri Lankan English (SLE) and British English (BE) in academic and non-academic writing. The results suggest that there is a difference in the use of phrasal verbs in non-academic writing in Sri Lanka and British English. However in more formal academic writing genres, SLE remains close to British academic writing.

The second chapter is a contrastive analysis of the use of epistemic lexical verbs by NS and NNS writers in English. It has been claimed that NNS speaker may be at a disadvantage because they do not have a good mastery of frequency, function and pragmatic intentions in the use of epistemic lexical verbs. The results also show that academic English is subject to culture-specific variability.

In the third chapter, the authors present an analysis of acknowledgements in four research contexts: Venezuela, Spain, France, and the USA. The results show that acknowledgments are much less frequent and much shorter in non-English medium journals which seem to be due to cultural factors rather than academic conventions.

Chapter four deals with the contrastive analysis of academic writing in English and Spanish. The suggested approach could be applicable to research into English for research publication purposes undertaken in relation to other languages used in similar contexts.

The second section, discourse analysis within a professional framework, focuses on the fact that all the contributions have based their efforts on the study of English language arising naturally within the professional setting analyzed.

The first chapter explores the discourse of English in the professional context of Swedish industrial doctoral students. The author examined students’ perceptions of the differences between the professional and academic writing environments and the varying discourses associated with them. The results show that reports need to be focused, carefully written in the ‘empiricist repertoire’, and explicitly meet the expectations of an international audience, and written in a ‘contingent repertoire’ and implicitly refer to the shared company environment.

In the second chapter, the writers examine how patients receive information on the type of medicines they have to use. The study suggests that most patients tend to rely heavily on their physicians, whereas other sources of information do not seem to lead to the same levels of adherence to prescribed medication regimens. The last chapter of this section focuses on self- reference in corporate discourse. It is claimed that identity construction is not discourse-specific, but genre-specific, and that identity is co-constructed differently depending on the specific community the genre targets.

The final section focuses on the teaching of EPAP. It contains five chapters, three dealing with academic discourse teaching, and the other two with professional English tuition.
The first chapter focuses on evaluating and designing materials for ESP classrooms. It is argued that the teacher plays a role in the design, development and usage of the material. The chapter concludes with sample materials, which were designed with comments by the author to serve as a practical guide for developers of ESP materials.

Chapter two deals with academic discourse genre and how to teach it based on a recently published book. A top-down approach, moving from the macro-structure of abstracts to their micro elements, results in an analysis-awareness-acquisition sequence.

Chapter three explores the difference between textual analysis and rhetorical analysis through a pre-test/post-test experimental study. The findings highlight the complex nature of teaching the essay genre, prompting EFL instructors to draw on both results of (a) the rhetorical analysis and (b) linguistic and textual analyses when teaching writing.

The teaching of writing on discipline-specific academic courses including nursing, midwifery and social work is examined in chapter four. The chapter concludes with an examination of implications for teaching discipline-specific writing.

The final chapter of this section deals with English for science and engineering. The conclusion stresses the importance of English education in the sciences and engineering and includes some recommendations on how previous information can be successfully applied into other contexts.

In sum, the volume provides outstanding research on EPAP and its applications in hundreds of academic and professional settings. More specifically, this volume is of particular value to EPAP professionals and ESL/EFL teachers working in related settings because it offers suggestions on how to create materials, how to teach the writing of abstracts or essays better, and how to teach different genres in discipline-specific writing.

One of the shortcomings of the book is that it used highly specialized language and it assumes background knowledge on the part of the readers about the subject. In some chapters, little information on methodological procedures is provided, thus making replication studies rather problematic. Furthermore, the generalizability of findings in some studies is difficult due to their use of small corpora or case-study approaches.

The submission has not been previously published or is not being considered for publication elsewhere.

Bio Data
Masoumeh Mehri holds a BA degree in English Literature from Tabriz University and MA degree in TEFL from Guilan University in Iran. She has been teaching English at several institutes and universities. Her area of interest is ESP, Discourse and Interlanguage pragmatics.
Seyyed Amin Mokhtari received his M.A. in TEFL at Mazandaran University following the completion of his B.A. in English Translation from Isfahan University, Iran. His main research areas of interest are: Dynamic assessment, ESP, and Discourse Analysis. He has been working as an EFL instructor at several institutes and universities since 2004.