Chapter 18 - English for academic purposes  pp. 126-130

English for academic purposes

By Liz Hamp-Lyons

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Over the past 25 years TESL/TEFL in universities/colleges and other academic settings – or in programmes designed to prepare non-native users of English for English-medium academic settings – has grown into a multi-million-dollar enterprise around the world. Teaching those who are using English for their studies differs from teaching English to those who are learning for general purposes only, and from teaching those who are learning for occupational purposes.

English for academic purposes (EAP) is not only a teaching approach. It is also a branch of applied linguistics consisting of a significant body of research into effective teaching and assessment approaches, methods of analysis of the academic language needs of students, analysis of the linguistic and discoursal structures of academic texts, and analysis of the textual practices of academics.


The practice of teaching EAP has been with us for a long time – wherever individual teachers of non-native students in academic contexts have taught with a view to the context rather than only to the language – but the term ‘EAP’ first came into general use through the British organisation SELMOUS (Special English Language Materials for Overseas University Students), which was formed in 1972. Although the organisation's first collection of papers from its annual meeting was titled English for academic purposes (Cowie and Heaton 1977), it didn't change its name to include the term until 1989, when it became BALEAP (British Association of Lecturers in English for Academic Purposes).