The papers in this 1988 volume emerged from the International Conference on English for Specific Purposes, Colombo, Sri Lanka, 1–5 April 1985. An overall conference theme was how to create links between English teaching and the world of work.

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In addition, papers address a wide range of topics relating to the future of and varieties of English; course and materials design; teaching methodology; testing; and administration. The first contributor in the opening ‘Viewpoints’ section is the science fiction author, Arthur C Clarke, who presciently writes about the coming future of online communications and ‘data banks’, and advantages of being able to read in English, the world language. In contrast, Braj B Kachru issues a call for teaching the pragmatics of world Englishes, and for ‘Western’ teaching methodologies to be treated with scepticism.

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