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ULAB, in collaboration with bdnews24.com, is hosting an international conference on English for Specific Purposes (ESP) in Dhaka on Friday. The conference, the first of its kind in Bangladesh, seeks to address the question of whether English language education can be more specific to the needs of students and employers in order to have a more direct, practical impact.


It aims to bring together academics and representatives from nongovernmental organisations, the government and corporate bodies to discuss ESP as a key tool in building skills.

With Bangladesh soon to become a developing country, there will be ample job opportunities in diverse sectors for proficient users of the English language in the near future, organisers say.

“It is a common concern voiced by both academics and employers alike that there is a huge gap between the English language courses that are taught in Bangladeshi universities and the actual needs of employers, who again have their own diverse requirements,” said ATM Sajedul Huq, Director of ULABs Center for Language Studies.

In many cases, employers have had to resort to organising internal language programmes for their employees that focus on the needs of the organisation itself, discarding other elements, he said.

“We aim to explore new trends, best practices, current research and innovative methodology in ESP and to look realistically at our English language courses and focus on whether discipline specific language programmes would benefit our learners and their employers more,” Huq said.

“We believe that we will come up with some excellent ideas on how to improve English language courses in our country. It will have a huge impact on language teaching in Bangladesh.”

The papers presented at the conference will touch on a variety of topics including the challenges and opportunities of ESP education in Bangladesh, the English needs of medical students, ESP in business English classes, English language skills in the fashion industry, English in journalism, needs analysis and ESP in the hotel and tourism industry and employers understanding of English language skills in Bangladesh.

ESP specialist Mark Krzanowski will be the keynote speaker at the event. Krzanowski is the director of the Centre for Academic English Studies at the Surrey International Institute.

Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali, ULAB Vice-Chancellor Jahirul Haque, bdnews24.com Editor-in-Chief Toufique Imrose Khalidi and Sajedul Huq, also the conference convener, will also deliver speeches during the inaugural session of the event.

A panel discussion on Employers Needs vs. Academic Realities: Can the Two be Reconciled? is also scheduled for the event.

The panellists are Krzanowski, BELTA Vice President Dr Arifa Rahman, Robi Axiata Limited Vice President of Media, Communications and Sustainability Ekram Kabir, BELTA President Prof Harunur Rashid Khan, Astute Horse CEO M Shahadat Hussain, IML Associate Professor Dr Sayeedur Rahman and British Council, Bangladesh Examinations Director Sebastian Pearce.

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