An Interdisciplinary and Contextual Approach to Teaching Adults English in the Workplace

  • Jane LockwoodEmail author
Reference work entry
Part of the Springer International Handbooks of Education book series (SIHE)


This chapter explores the positive contribution that ideas and constructs from both the business and management training and the adult education literature can make to the theory and practice of workplace ELT curriculum design. It also explores how the context for training is of critical importance. Specifically, this chapter looks at how workplace stakeholders can provide a business voice to the English language teaching (ELT) curriculum processes, how business training planning and evaluation frameworks can assist English for specific purposes (ESP) workplace practitioners in reconceptualizing the curriculum process, and how a review of adult learning research can help ESP workplace practitioners better understand the English language needs of professionals in the workplace. Unfortunately, the applied linguistic literature is, for the most part, school-based, leaving workplace ELT programs poorly researched and documented in terms of curriculum theory and practice. The chapter will report on studies of workplace English carried out in Hong Kong and the Philippines. The first Hong Kong study (Lockwood, Language programme training design and evaluation processes in Hong Kong workplaces. Unpublished PhD. dissertation, The University of Hong Kong, 2002) investigated the way in which frameworks from business management and training can be used in ESP workplace training to ensure workplace stakeholders and thus the organization as a whole are better represented in the process. The second Hong Kong study (Hamp-Lyons et al. A new approach to competency based language assessment in professional contexts – Hong Kong Institute of Company Secretaries (Research Report). Hong Kong Research Council, Hong Kong, 2002) provides insights into how different stages in a professional career (in this case accountants) impact the kind of written language expectations of that professional. Other studies conducted in the Philippines in the business processing outsourcing (BPO) industry further illuminate the language demands of the increasingly globalized workplace.


Adult learning Workplace Curriculum 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Hong Kong Polytechnic UniversityHong KongHong Kong

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