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Optimizing the Process of Teaching English for Medical Purposes with the Use of Mobile Applications

A Memrise-based Case Study

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Maria Chojnacka

The ubiquity of mobile devices has opened the way to extending learning environments far beyond the constraints of the traditional foreign language classroom. This book seeks to advance the knowledge about effective learning and teaching of English for Medical Purposes supported by mobile environments. The author investigates the effectiveness of the use of a mobile version of a flashcard spaced-repetition learning platform. In conclusion, she presents core principles of an educational solution that supports the ongoing and situated learning of English for Medical Purposes by designing a mobile spaced-repetition medical vocabulary tutor («Mobile Medical English Companion»).

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Chapter One: An Overview of Key Concepts Pertaining to Teaching English for Specific Purposes

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1.1 Introduction

Broadly speaking, English for Specific Purposes (ESP) is an umbrella term used in association with both teaching and learning domain-driven English (Paltridge − Starfield 2013: 2, Orr 2002). The concept is far from new, as English can be traced back through history as the language of trade and science, yet most research in ESP dates back to the post-war period, especially the 1960s, when it became apparent that general English courses often failed to meet the needs and wants of specific groups of learners, especially in the workplace context (Hutchinson − Waters 1987: 5; Dudley-Evans − St John 1998: I, Brunton 2009: 1).

In the 21st century, one might assume that hoping for a clear-cut definition of the concept of ESP is not completely unwarranted. However, finding a viable definition of ESP still forms the background to much academic discussion. There is much disagreement over the scope of ESP, what it is, is not or should be. On one side of the spectrum, there is the position that language is always used for a specific purpose, and when it comes to teaching and learning English, “[e]very language course should be considered a course for specific purposes” (Douglas 2013: 368, after Long 2005: 1). On the other side of the spectrum, there are researchers who deny the existence of even the very concept of ESP.

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