The cultural dimension of English for specific purposes
In the variation of English for Occupational Purposes, ESP is usually considered to be culture-free. This thesis investigates, as an example, a vocational ESP program in Saudi Arabia to establish, first, what cultural values might be present in the course materials, and second, how the ESP programme relates to the school system in which workers have been educated. The study proposes that there is a cultural content even in what appears to be a culture-free ESP program, and that this cultural content is expected to provide the non-native target population learners with values and thinking abilities that are different from those that are in the receiving environment. The study shows how an ESP program can have a Western cultural perspective that provides Western values and thinking abilities and general / basic education. The thesis consists of six chapters and a general introduction. The Introduction discusses the significance of ESP, the general view that it is 'culture-free', and the importance of analysing an example ESP program to see if this is the case. Chapter One presents an account of ESP, its definition, nature, development, and key issues in the field of its syllabus design and significance in its various fields, with focus on the significance of ESP having a common core component. Chapter Two presents an account of the literature on the concepts of socialisation and culture, its definition, nature, relation with language, learning, and significance in foreign language teaching (FLT), English language teaching (ELT), and specifically in ESP. Chapter Three introduces Saudi Arabia, with a brief account of its socio- cultural aspects, religion, educational system, and the significance of English language teaching in it. It also has a section about the Arabian American Oil Company (Aramco) which represents the environment of Western cultural learning in the ESP program, namely Vocational English Language Training (VELT).