Literature Review: Effectiveness Of English For Specific Purposes

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English is the lingua franca of the international missions in which the Indonesian armed forces is taking a part as a member of United Nations peacekeeping operations. Orna-Montesinos (2013) states that the English’s role in armed forces is fully understood as English is a communication language that used in the workplace and daily life while in the military mission around the world. English is also considered as the main language for all United Nations peacekeepers during performing their duties in international missions. English is also believed as the official language used among UN peacekeepers from different national contingents.

Teaching English for Specific Purposes has been believed as the best approach to teach the professional working adults in particular military personnel who are going to be deployed as UN peacekeepers due to their professionalism in terms of conducting military activities in line with their duties. This supported by (Alfallaj, 2016) stated that ESP is precisely what the UN peacekeepers need where ESP is a functionality centered course designed to fulfil its specific needs with the learners in a particular discipline. Alfallaj (2016) also added that ESP course may be designed for workers from specialized ares. For this reason, this paper will carry out a literature review related to various research studies in terms of designing an ESP course for the UN peacekeepers before their deployment in the UN mission areas. Hutchinson (as cited in Luo & Garner, 2017), states that studying language for specific purposes has a long and interesting history, reaching back to classical times.

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The aim of this paper is to synopsize and critically evaluate the current literature about ESP in the context of UN peacekeepers and the role of English for Specific Purposes (ESP) on military personnel in the context of peacekeeping operations. The literature review starts with the importance of English as a lingua franca and the challenges in teaching UN peacekeepers, the possibility and the outcome expected. Then, it discusses the ESP course design and construction. After that, it will focus on how to design an ESP curriculum concept, followed by the expected contribution from its concept.

The Importance of English as a Lingua Franca

According to Seidlhofer (2005) English imposes on everybody’s life in the world in many various ways. People watch TV, listen to the radio, read the newspapers, and being active on social media. They also attend English classes and learn it as well as encounter English commercial slogan which are presented on TV, magazine, and other media. Teachers, military personnel and bank executives use English in their very different everyday activities; tourists ask and are given directions in English.

Communicating effectively is perhaps the fundamental and most important goal of language because English is probably the language spoken by most people around the world. According to Crystal (as cited in Lozano Velandia, 2015) English is a global language taken up by over seventy countries around the world. This also emphasized by Orna-Montesinos (2013) that the openness in international communication, in information exchange and knowledge dissemination has made English a shared language favouring the internationalization of professional activities. Therefore, as the lingua franca of UN peacekeepers communication, English can assist in facilitating the necessary interconnection all parties in many activities involving individuals, organizations, national, international, local and global.

Kelly (as cited in Castillo, 2017) point out that language plays a crucial role in armed conflict, peacekeeping operations, humanitarian operations, pre- deployment training of troops and support to refugees. United Nations Peacekeeping missions are becoming increasingly diverse as personnel are drawn from a wider range of countries. However, many diverse personnel cannot use global English well and thus are limited in their ability to conduct joint operations with other military personnel from different nations due to lacks of communication skill in particular using English. Therefore Castillo (2017) argues that the effectiveness of communication is particularly vital in a UN peacekeeping missions where language misunderstandings risk leading to mistakes, which might, in a worst-case scenario, result in casualties.

English for Specific Purposes (ESP)

English for specific purposes is a part of English language teaching from the perspective of English for professional purposes (military terms). Hutchinson and Water (as cited in Lozano Velandia, 2015) stated that ESP courses are tailored to specific needs. Halliday, Mcinfash and Strevens (as cited in Gai, 2017) also identify that ESP is used in a specific field by professionals. Furthermore, Zou, Ramirez, Erazo, and Encalada (2019) state that ESP originated from the need to learn English related to specific professional settings. Hutchinson (as cited in Al-Roomy, 2017) added that ESP can take different forms, depending on learners’ need, such as the degree of specificity or experience that is not taught as a separate subject, but it is constructed around functions determined by the purposes of the learners. According to Ramirez (as cited in Zou et al., 2019) highlights with the development of a foreign language, the opportunities of a nation improve. Zou et al. (2019) added that learning foreign language will provide benefit for people’s live, teaches new information such as culture, customs and a new way of life.

In addition, as cited in Lozano Velandia (2015) teaching ESP course is connected to a specific discipline or profession and makes use of a methodology which differs from what has been used in teaching general-purpose English, since many learners need English skills in order to use it in specific occupational or educational settings with specific roles. Dinçay (2011) found that the ESP syllabus is based on the situation which could suit the needs of learners most.

According to Georgieva (2014) from National Defence College, Bulgaria, Sofia, analysed in her research focusing on English for peacekeepers. It can be found from her research that similarly to other English for specific purposes course which have their sub-varieties (e.g. Maritime English has its sub-varieties of Maritime English for Navigators, for Ship Engineers, for Ship builders), English for military personnel can also be further specialised according to the type of military arms and branches. In addition, English for Peacekeepers has been given the nickname of NATO English, to which both native English speakers and non-native speakers contribute. Peacekeepers need the awareness of existence of numerous distinction of English varieties within their international community: different accents, pronunciation, rhythm of speech, stress and intonation affected by the native language of each peacekeeper. During a pre-deployment course they need to be exposed to such varieties and to learn some techniques for successful communication: asking for clarification, repeating, etc., instead of getting discouraged and not being able to convey the message.


In conclusion, this literature review has pointed out the effectiveness of English for Specific Purposes is applied for teaching military personnel who will be deployed as the UN peacekeepers. The outcomes showed in this paper have demonstrated that an ESP course can assist the military personnel to function adequately in a real task of deployment. ESP for peacekeepers is the most suitable lesson to be delivered as long as teachers know how to design a specialized course and an appropriate curriculum in line with the requirements needed by the military personnel. The most important thing from the ESP course for peacekeepers is it might be the awareness of the peacekeepers that the course is about building their confidence and showing them the possible ways for socializing in an international relationship. 


  1. Al-Roomy, M. (2017). ESP in a Saudi Context: Where does it stand? Journal of Language Teaching and Research, 8(6). doi:10.17507/jltr.0806.11
  2. Alfallaj, F. S. S. (2016). Designing an ESP Curriculum for Saudi Science Students. Advances in Language and Literary Studies, 7(3). doi:10.7575/aiac.alls.v.7n.3p.95
  3. Castillo, S. (2017). The English language in the military: A study of peacekeepers. Paper presented at the Authenticity in ELT: Selected papers from the 42nd FAAPI Conference.
  4. Dinçay, T. (2011). Designing a learner-centered ESP course for adults and incorporating the learners’ aims into a situational-based syllabus. Ekev Academic Review, 15(49), 235-247.
  5. Gai, F. (2017). Construction of ESP teaching system. Journal of Language Teaching and Research, 8(6). doi:10.17507/jltr.0806.23
  6. Georgieva, V. (2014). English for peacekeepers: Can we teach it? Paper presented at the Collection of papers from International Conference „Success and Challenges in Foreign Language Teaching”, National University of Public Service.
  7. Lozano Velandia, S. (2015). Goal-setting and self-reflection to enhance learners’ interaction in an ESP context. Latin American Journal of Content and Language Integrated Learning, 8(2), 131-160. doi:10.5294/laclil.2015.8.2.4
  8. Luo, J., & Garner, M. (2017). The challenges and opportunities for English teachers in teaching ESP in China. Journal of Language Teaching and Research, 8(1). doi:10.17507/jltr.0801.10
  9. Orna-Montesinos, C. (2013). English as an International language in the military- a study of attitudes.
  10. Seidlhofer, B. (2005). English as a lingua franca. ELT journal, 59(4), 339-341.
  11. Zou, J. H., Ramirez, S. I. M., Erazo, M. A. C., & Encalada, M. A. R. (2019). The significance of English language development for future asian tourism and hotel management professionals. Theory and Practice in Language Studies, 9(1). doi:10.17507/tpls.0901.02  


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