From EAP to ESP

Curriculum Redesign for IENs’ L2 Literacy


  • May Yeung MacEwan University
  • Eaman Mah MacEwan University



EAP, ESP, IENs, negotiated syllabus


English for Academic Purposes (EAP) and English for Specific Purposes (ESP) are language training pathways for students to meet target language proficiency requirements towards further tertiary studies (Keefe & Shi, 2017; Walková & Bradford, 2022). Yet, these can be highly debatable terms, controversial over their appropriate usage (Flowerdew, 2016; Li, 2020; Maleki, 2008; Mpofu & Maphalala, 2021; Wette, 2018). A main reason for this discord is a lack of firm definitions between these two constructs, which leads to vague and blurred boundaries. This article will describe the process where a small western Canadian university modified an existing EAP course consisting of broad reading and writing topics into an ESP one with a narrow culturally and medically themed focus towards internationally educated nurses (IENs). These modifications assisted in the identification of the similarities and differences of both EAP and ESP for the institution. The new ESP course, piloted over two terms was found to have strengthened student outcomes in their non-native target language, commonly known as L2 (Saville-Toike, 2012) while their disciplinary knowledge contributions also enriched the curriculum. Rooted within the debate between determining appropriate language pathways, recommendations to determine the suitability of an EAP versus an ESP course within a “negotiated syllabus” utilizing learner input are offered (Breen & Littlejohn, 2000; Prior, 2020).


Author Biographies

May Yeung, MacEwan University

May Yeung has completed her fourth year as a sessional English language instructor at MacEwan University and has recently branched out into the realms of research and publication with some success. May is eager to begin her doctoral journey this summer. 

Eaman Mah, MacEwan University

Eaman Mah is the Associate Dean of the School of Continuing Education. She recently celebrated a milestone 25-year career and was also a proud recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award in 2021. Eaman is dedicated to enhancing tertiary programs and services to assist students to reach their potential.




How to Cite

Yeung, M., & Mah, E. (2023). From EAP to ESP: Curriculum Redesign for IENs’ L2 Literacy. TESL Canada Journal, 40(1), 137–150.