The perceptions of specific needs among a discourse community of ESP learners : whether these relate to their achievement, attitudes and motivation
This study investigates the issues of motivation and attitudes in ESP. It attempts to
examine the theoretical assumption that ESP is motivating for its learners. The attempt is
to see what relevance the ESP situation could have on its learners' attitudes and
motivation. Particularly it looks at a circle of possible significant relations of ESP
learners. It examines the possible relevance among the perceptions of specific needs of
learners, ESP, achievement, attitudes and motivation. The aim is to see if there is a
relationship between ESP, perceptions of the discourse community's specific needs and
achievement and motivation. The study uses a military institute as an example of an ESP
The sample of the study is 502 cadets, 486 in the questionnaire and 16 in the interview, in
King Khalid Military Academy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. They represent the three levels
(years) in the Academy. Two research methods are used to collect the data: semistructured
interviews as a qualitative method and a questionnaire as a quantitative method.
The interviews are analysed qualitatively, and questionnaire responses are analysed
quantitatively, both in percentages using SPSS correlational analysis.
The results of the study show that there is a positive perception and preference among
learners of their specific needs. They also suggest that attitudes towards learning the
language were significantly correlated with achievement; but this was not the case with
attitudes towards the people and culture of the language. In addition, the results reveal
that there is a significant relationship between the perception of specific needs, ESP, high
achievement and positive attitudes towards learning the language. The study also
suggests that these learners have an integrative type of motivation of learning English,
related to their discourse community.
In the light of the results, the study concludes that the positive attitudes towards learning
ESP are related to learners' positive attitudes towards learning and better achievement
and motivation, which could suggest that ESP can work to engender learning. The study
also concludes that the ESP learning situation could work as a counter to learners'
negative attitudes towards the people and culture of the target language; and these were
seen as not influential on these learners' achievement. It is suggested that the issues of
different attitudes towards the people and culture of the target language and attitudes
towards learning it, as well as the integrative motivation towards the sub-culture of the
ESP discourse, are worthy of more investigation in different settings, as these are under researched
conceptions within ESP.