Teaching English podcast: What is English for Specific Purposes, and how is it different to General English?

Download the eighth episode, activity booklet, show notes and transcript from series 2 of our podcast 'British Council Teaching English'.

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British Council: TeachingEnglish - series 2 overview

In our second series of this ten-part podcast series from the British Council, we try and provide solutions to some of the key questions being asked by English teachers around the world. Each episode explores a specific topic through interviews, a focus on recent developments and reports on British Council initiatives in English language teaching.

For each episode, an activity booklet, practical show notes and transcripts in English and Arabic are available to download at the bottom of the page.

Episode 8: What is English for Specific Purposes, and how is it different to General English?

Building on what we discussed in episode 4 about ‘Academic English’, we take a step back and look at the wider context within which it sits – English for Specific Purposes (ESP). At first, who better than Viviana Cortes – the editor-in-chief of the Journal of English for Specific Purposes – to share with us an overview of ESP, discussing its history, present and its future. In our field report, we investigate some of the particular areas in more detail, with practitioners of Medical English, Aviation English, and English for Islamic Studies telling us about their specialities. We learn about some of the specific lexical, grammatical and stylistic features of each of these specialisms.

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Show notes

Each episode contains downloadable show notes. These include the following:

  • Ideas for how you could use the podcast in your teaching
  • Detailed notes with extra information about the contents of the episode
  • Useful links

Using this podcast for lessons or training 

  • You can download a transcript of the episode from the podcast homepage. To help you and your learners with preparation and language analysis, all words at the B2, C1 and C2 CEFR level have been highlighted.
  • There is an ‘activity booklet’ for this episode, which contains activities you can use in your classroom. The activities focus on speaking, listening, grammar and language. They are available in both pdf and in editable PowerPoint format, in case you wish to edit them to make them more relevant for your specific classroom.

How to listen or subscribe to the podcast

You can listen and subscribe to the podcast in the following ways:


Download the following resources at the bottom of the page.

  • Episode 8 audio file
  • Episode 8 Show notes
  • Episode 8 activity pack
  • Episode 8 Transcript (Arabic and English)

Production team

  • Hosts: We'am Hamdan and Chris Sowton
  • Producer: Elizabeth Dyer
  • Executive producer: Kris Dyer 
  • Arabic language consultant: Sawsan Abu Qare


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