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Humanising Language Teaching
Humanising Language Teaching
Humanising Language Teaching

Introducing and Exemplifying English for Life Purposes (ELP) as a New Concept in English Language Teaching

Reza Pishghadam and Reza Zabihi, Iran

Reza Pishghadam works at the English Department, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Iran. Email:

Reza Zabihi is a PhD student of Applied Linguistics at the Department of English, Faculty of Foreign Languages, University of Isfahan, Iran. Email:


Applied linguistics versus applied ELT
Importance of life in education: three streams of evidence
Linguistic syllabus versus life syllabus
ESP versus ELP
A sample ELP exercise
Concluding remarks


By getting to know that English language learning classes offer some unique features as venues which enable ELT classes not only to provide opportunities for the development of language proficiency but also to set the scene for the nourishment of learners’ other capabilities, talents, emotions and attitudes, and based on the principles of Applied ELT, English for Life Purposes (ELP) is introduced in this study as a new concept in English language teaching. The authors do not at all suggest that language learning should be underrated in English language classes; nor do they intend to rush the learner towards the apogee of success in every aspect of life overnight. The authors’ proposal is merely suggestive of the fact that the goal of a language class should not be language learning per se; rather, inspired by three streams of evidence as to the importance of enhancing life issues in education, the authors give primacy to enhancing learners’ life qualities through the development and application of life syllabuses in ELT classes. Finally, a sample ELP exercise with the aim of enhancing learners’ emotional intelligence is provided as a model for interested researchers.


Throughout the last century, there have been tremendous changes in English language teaching in terms of the changing winds and shifting sands of the history of ELT, regarding the way the English language has to be taught and learned. In fact, English language teaching has historically stemmed from the discoveries of theoretical linguistics (Berns & Matsuda, 2006). Later on, during the 1950s, ELT freed itself from the confines of theoretical linguistics and, within an interdisciplinary framework, began to endorse the findings of other domains of knowledge such as sociology, psychology, neurology, etc.

Over time, changes occurred to ELT so much so that it is currently being studied as a sub-discipline of applied linguistics, and is highly open to receive ideas from several branches of applied linguistics such as neurolinguistics, sociolinguistics and psycholinguistics. These areas have shed some light on English language learning and teaching to help ELT practitioners enrich their understanding of the field. These ideas are in the form of prescriptions which are supposed to enhance and enrich the field of English language teaching and learning, but virtually, it is argued (Schmitt, 2002), they make English teachers nothing but consumers of the findings of other disciplines. The first signs of opposition to this idea started when Widdowson (1979), through making a distinction between Applied linguistics and Linguistics applied, denounced the consumerist view of language teachers and declared that English teachers should effectively theorize what they practice and practice what they theorize.

Therefore, later on during the postmodern era of ELT, the idea of method was put into serious question by many prominent critics such as Kumaravadivelu (1994, 2003), Pennycook (1989), Long (1989), Prabhu (1990), Richards (1990, 2003), and Stern (1991) who tried to empower teachers and enable them to reflect on their own teaching and gain more autonomy in language teaching. In the meantime, interdisciplinary studies were getting more momentum, coming up with the idea that other disciplines should be more directly applied to ELT for its enrichment. Accordingly, as a case in point, the term ‘psycholinguistics’ which had a linguistic basis gave way to other notions such as, among many others, ‘the psychology of effective learning and teaching’ (Jarvis, 2005), ‘the psychology of language teachers’ (Williams & Burden, 1997), and ‘the psychology of second language acquisition’ (Dornyei, 2009).

Most recently, drawing on the interdisciplinary nature and scientific acceptability of ELT, Pishghadam (2011) argued that ELT has now gained the potentiality to be applied to other fields of knowledge. In fact, he invites not only the ELT community but also the professionals in other fields to take a fresh look at ELT, i.e. to focus their attention on the applied part of ELT, and try to employ its findings for the betterment and enrichment of those disciplines. Thus, different aspects of people’s lives including their ways of thinking, innate abilities, emotions, attitudes, creativity, compassion, intuition, reason, and other values like harmony, generosity, and kindness can be pre-scheduled to be enhanced in what Pishghadam (2011) refers to as Applied ELT.

Having touched upon some milestones in the evolution of English language teaching from its dominated past, dependent present, and independent future, in what follows we come up with the idea that ELT, thanks to its interdisciplinary nature, has now gained a scientific status and is ready to be applied and contribute ideas to other fields of knowledge. Next, via presenting three streams of evidence, i.e. the studies of human development, the philosophy of education for life, and the humanistic approach to education, as to the importance of enhancing life issues in education, we draw the attention of the ELT community to the enhancement of learners’ life qualities through the development and application of life syllabuses in ELT classes. Then, having briefly reviewed different linguistic syllabuses, we propose life syllabus as an alternative to previous approaches to syllabus design and as a new research agenda in second/foreign language studies. Finally, in the last two sections, we make attempts to introduce ELP as a new concept in English language teaching, arguing that our intention is not to sacrifice language proficiency, along with a sample ELP exercise intended to enhance learners’ emotional abilities based on Bar-On’s model of emotional intelligence.

Applied linguistics versus applied ELT

As was mentioned above, ELT has been making extensive use of the findings of Applied Linguistics in order to enrich itself. Nevertheless, Pishghadam (2011) argues that ELT has already gained an autonomous status and is ready to be applied to other fields of knowledge; yet he does not mean that ELT and linguistics have reached the point of complete detachment. He merely suggests that ELT is already enriched in theoretical foundation and now it is ready to export and contribute its ideas to other disciplines of knowledge. He draws the attention of the ELT community to take a fresh look at the principles of the field and announce its independence, granted the fact that ELT “has the potentiality to be applied to other domains of knowledge” (Pishghadam, 2011).

Be that as it may, not much work has been done in the field of second/foreign language learning that examines the possible contributions that an ELT class might offer to other fields of knowledge, except a few research studies carried out by Pishghadam (2008; 2010; 2011). These studies have successfully drawn the attention of the ELT community to this potentiality by showing that ELT classes and the way the English teachers manipulated the classroom procedures could reinforce learners’ critical thinking, as well as their emotional and intellectual competencies. Below are some examples that show contributions of ELT to the fields of psychology and sociology.

In 2008, Pishghadam examined the impact of literary discussion on EFL learners’ critical abilities. Making use of literary discussion in a foreign language, he could improve the level of learners’ critical thinking. He theorized that the opportunities for discussion and interaction which were provided in ELT classes under investigation have led to the reinforcement of learners’ critical thinking. In another study (Hosseini, Pishghadam, & Navari, 2010), the effect of English language classes in reinforcing emotional intelligence was investigated. The results revealed that due to ample opportunities for interaction and group work, which is a unique feature of ELT classes, language learners’ emotional abilities were improved in such a way that learners could overcome their anxiety, manage their stress, and enhance interpersonal competencies. Moreover, Pishghadam and Saboori (2011) observed how English language teachers shaped learners’ national and cultural identities, and made learners become alienated from their own home culture by their consideration of the American English the best standard to be followed in language classes, as well as their refusal to use Persian (learners’ home language) in their classes.

These studies espouse the idea that considering the role of English language classes, and particularly teachers in different aspects of learners’ lives is of paramount importance. As it was already mentioned, educational policies can be made in ways that either foster or hinder the improvement of individuals’ lives. That is to say, students’ lives are deeply influenced by what and how a particular teacher does in the classroom. As Freire (1998) puts it, sometimes even a simple gesture on the part of a teacher, be it a significant one or not, may have an abysmal effect on a student’s life. This effect may become even greater if a teacher imposes a certain ideology on the students.

Importance of life in education: three streams of evidence

There are several factors which should be considered in order to enhance people’s quality of life. These factors include, inter alia, social relations, safety, physical health, happiness, human rights, freedom, success in marriage, emotional abilities, and job satisfaction. In the context of education, it has largely been acknowledged that these factors should be seriously taken into consideration and be enhanced. Three streams of evidence, i.e. the studies of human development, the philosophy of education for life, and the humanistic approach to education, are discussed below in order to shed some light on the importance of life issues in education. Finally, we argue that these life issues have sadly been ignored in the field of English language teaching.

Evidence from studies of human development

Accordingly, the Human Development Paradigm (HDP) came into being as an alternative conceptualization of the development phenomenon. This approach was pioneered by Sen (1989), furthered by Nussbaum (2000), Saith (2001) and Haq (1995), among many others, and has repeatedly been reported by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

The basic principle of the HDP is that life is the most basic and universal of values. Moreover, Sen’s (1989; 1993; 1999; 2002) ideas on human development and his focus on the expansion of people’s capabilities form the cornerstone of HDP whose purpose is thus to improve human lives and to enlarge people’s choices of what they can be and do, including their economic, cultural, social, and political capabilities via creating an environment in which they can enjoy long, healthy, and creative lives based on a decent standard of living. Therefore, it has been the United Nation’s goal to pave the way for individuals to reach their full potential and to put their capabilities to the best use in different aspects of their lives.

To put it in a nutshell, the HDP comprises an expansion of human capabilities, a widening of choices, an enhancement of freedoms, and a fulfillment of human rights. Such development would necessarily stem from deeply humanistic bases. It is thus a model based on the holistic development of individuals, while embracing several aspects of development including not only economic growth, but also social investment, individuals’ empowerment, satisfaction of the basic needs such as education, health care, and social safety nets as well as political and cultural freedom and all other aspects of people’s lives. This will necessitate, inter alia, the enfranchisement of a given person to seek their life options which in turn can help them develop as a whole person.

In a similar vein of argument, the Delors Report, whose mission was to give education the role of providing humanity with the capacity to control its own development, brought forth four educational pillars, namely learning to be, learning to know, learning to live together, and learning to do. In the field of education, these advances have led to the preparation of a proposal entitled Education for Human Development which is based on the idea that any education has the responsibility to generate learning as well as to help students develop their other potentials and capabilities. Accordingly, attempts have been made by the UNESCO and the Ayrton Senna Institute to apply the four fundamental areas of learning proposed by Delors et al. (1996) with the aim of catering for and nourishing different aspects of individuals’ lives such as, inter alia, their multiple competencies, abilities, innate potentials, as well as their emotions and attitudes.

Evidence from the philosophy of education for life

Another stream of evidence as to the importance of considering life issues in education comes from the philosophy of education for life which has been accepted and applied by some schools such as the Ananda Living Wisdom College and Education for Life Foundation (ELF). These institutes have been established with the aim of enhancing students’ quality of life, enabling them to face the life challenges, and generally reaching them to their full potential.

Typically, these schools are expected to provide the students with small classes in a safe, stress-free, and uplifting environment while enhancing their spirituality, creativity, compassion, intuition, reason, joyful learning, and other values such as harmony, generosity, and kindness. Students, on the other hand, learn the materials in a joyful and stress-free climate. Interestingly, academic excellence is not destined to be sacrificed in such an environment but is improved along with students’ other capabilities (Walters, 1997).

Unfortunately, the professionals in the field of ELT have not been able or willing to adopt much of such a philosophy. Conversely, due to their unique features which provide ample opportunities for enhancing learners’ life qualities as well as satisfying their educational needs, English language classes are sites where such factors should be dealt with and improved more than any other educational context.

Evidence from humanistic education

The third piece of evidence pertains to humanistic educators who assert that education should empower students to lead a good life. In fact, the underlying assumption of humanistic education is that “there is only one subject-matter for education, and that is life in all its manifestations” (Whitehead, 1929, p. 6). This assumption does not at all mean that the content area should be sacrificed for the sake of improving students’ lives; conversely, it means that teaching should not only include the achievement of academic excellence on the part of students, but it should also involve emotions, relationships, attitudes, thinking styles, feelings, and values.

Accordingly, many philosophers of education have unanimously given prominence to including life issues in education (e.g., Dewey, 1897; Freire, 1998; Krishnamurti, 1981; Walters, 1997). They made attempts to draw attention to the fact that all systems of education have an obligation to prepare its members for meeting life’s challenges in advance of making them ready for employment or other personal pursuits. In a similar vein of argument, other scholars have consensually articulated the importance of improving several aspects of an individual’s life such as happiness (Noddings, 2003), self-determination (Walker, 1999), emotional abilities (Matthews, 2006), critical thinking (Hare, 1999), and autonomy (Winch, 1999).

Therefore, the main purpose of education should be to make us ready for life, a meaningful and purposeful enterprise, as well as to educate people all the way to that meaning (Walters, 1997). In what follows, we recommend that ELT classes should also be the sites for enhancing learners’ life qualities, coming up with the idea of life syllabus which should be incorporated to the ELT curriculum. As it will be discussed in the next section, English language learning classes offer seven unique features as venues which might enable ELT classes not only to provide opportunities for the development of language proficiency but also to set the scene for the nourishment of learners’ other capabilities, talents, emotions and attitudes.

Linguistic syllabus versus life syllabus

Due to emerging trends in language teaching, there has been several shifts of focus in syllabus design such as structural, situational, notional-functional, and finally, task-based syllabus, and as a result there has been no single definition of the term over the course of time. Not surprisingly, many scholars have proposed different definitions of syllabus, each being slightly or radically different from others (e.g., Breen, 1984; Candlin, 1984; Foley, 1991; Hutchinson & Waters, 1987; Nunan, 1988; Prabhu, 1984; 1987; Wilkins, 1981).

In the following paragraphs, we first provide the readers with a brief account of each type of linguistic syllabus. Next, we argue that all these approaches to syllabus design have been criticized on many grounds; yet the focal point of criticism, we argue, is that their sole focus was set on the learners’ language skills and that they have neglected the basic purpose of education, i.e. the betterment of individuals’ lives. We thus come up with a new notion, i.e. life syllabus, as a loophole that can end the complication caused by linguistic syllabi via incorporating issues of concern in life into the linguistic syllabus in order to launch the learner as a ‘whole-person’ in the ring of practical life.

An overview of linguistic syllabi

Nunan (1988) classifies syllabuses into six types namely, grammatical syllabus, lexical syllabus, functional-notional syllabus, procedural syllabus, task-based syllabus and content syllabus. To begin with, in a grammatical syllabus, grammar rules are selected and graded on two scales of simplicity and complexity and then are taught and practiced consciously in an additive fashion, failing to enhance learners’ communicative skills (Nunan, 1988). Likewise, in a lexical syllabus, learners are supposed to memorize the levelized words of the target language (Richards, 2001) taken from a variety of word lists such as that of Coxhead (2000), Hindmarsh (1980), Hofland & Johansson (1982), Thorndike and Lorge (1944), and West (1953). Contrary to grammatical and lexical syllabi, a functional-notional syllabus (Wilkins, 1976) is organized around notions, or particular contexts of communication such as color, size, time, etc., as well as functions, or the purposes of communication such as persuading, apologizing, complimenting, etc., of a language, which are selected based on criteria of need, utility, coverage or generalizability, interest, relevance, complex of form, and frequency (White, 1988). Moreover, the procedural syllabus, as initiated by Prabhu (1980), highlights the role of ‘meaning’ (Beretta, 1989) which, unlike previous approaches, is achieved through the use of tasks and activities such as information-, reasoning-, and opinion-gap activities (Nunan, 1988). Similarly, task-based syllabus is one of the alternative syllabus models that have been proposed recently to highlight the importance of ‘meaning’. The approach utilizes a list of the target tasks that learners are required to perform outside the language class through the process of needs analysis (Nunan, 2001). Finally, the content-based syllabus, or the concurrent teaching of some well-defined content area pertaining to particular fields of study such as engineering, biology, medicine, chemistry, etc. and language use skills, was proposed with the underlying assumption that language and content area should not be regarded as separate operations (Mohan, 1986).

Life syllabus: an alternative to linguistic syllabus

Although the maturation of linguistic syllabi from grammatical and lexical orientations to functional-notional ones, and later on to procedural, task-based and topical models has shown significant positive alterations, there is one proposition, i.e. the primacy of language learning, on which professionals of the field have consensus and about which we want to express our serious concern.

Recently, the extension of the aims of ELT syllabus design to include non-linguistic objectives in the syllabus has been an important shift of focus in English language teaching in the sense that practitioners of the field should no longer confine themselves to enhancing learners’ language-related skills and knowledge (Richards, 2001). Alternately, they are more or less responsible for advancing learners’ whole-person growth, including not only their intellectual development but also their learning strategies, confidence, motivation, and interest. In a discussion on the possibility of such an enterprise, Pishghadam (2011, p. 15) enumerates seven unique features of English language learning classes which can smooth the way for the change towards the betterment of learners’ life quality:

  1. Discussing a large number of social, scientific, and political topics;
  2. Holding pair work and group work in class;
  3. Comparing two cultures;
  4. Getting acquainted with the words and grammar of another language;
  5. Speaking in another language in which one can show their own real self;
  6. Taking language learning very seriously;
  7. Having a funny and friendly atmosphere for learning.

These unique features, as Pishghadam (2011) puts it, smooth the way for the corroboration of the theory of Applied ELT in which English teachers are supposed to first, reinforce different aspects of learners’ lives such as emotional abilities, creativity, thinking styles, motivation, etc., and then teach a language. In other words, these unique features are venues which might enable ELT classes to provide opportunities for the development of language proficiency as well as to set the scene for the nourishment of learners’ other capabilities, talents, emotions, and attitudes. Not only can these factors be enhanced via the proper application of life syllabi in ELT classes, but there are also some hindering factors such as depression, stress, anxiety disorders, burnout, etc. which can be, mitigated, diminished, or even uprooted, thanks to the unique features offered by English language classes.

Therefore, considering the fact that all linguistic syllabi were ultimately destined to fail, we suggest that it is high time to switch the focus of ELT from the linguistic theories, i.e. designing syllabi solely based on the findings of linguistics and its branches, to helping the learner develop as a ‘whole-person’. To this end, it is recommended that materials developers and lesson planning practitioners incorporate issues which are of great concern in learners’ lives into the ELT curriculum in the form of the life syllabus. Put another way, in order to help ELT reach its full potential, the practitioners in the field of ELT should design their linguistic syllabus around the life syllabus so that, unlike previous linguistic approaches to syllabus design, the ELT profession becomes more of a life-and-language, rather than a language-only or even a language-and-life enterprise, giving its utmost priority to learners’ life quality in advance of improving their language-related skills (Pishghadam, 2011).

ESP versus ELP

Since the 1960s, with the emergence of English for Specific Purposes (ESP), with its unique approaches to syllabus design, materials development, teaching, testing, and research (Nunan, 2004), there has been a sharp divergence in the norms of general ELT in the sense that the new trend gave a high prominence to practical outcomes which have been ascertained via a process of needs analysis, in the hope of preparing learners for subject-specific language use as well as effective communication in the tasks required by their study or work situation (Dudley-Evans & St John, 1998).

Based on the specific needs of language learners, ESP as an umbrella term, has thus been extended to include three major branches including English for Academic Purposes (EAP) such as English for academic writing and English for law studies, English for Professional Purposes (EPP) such as English for the health care sector and English for nursing, and English for Occupational Purposes (EOP) such as English for the hospitality industry and English for hotel receptionists (Basturkmen, 2010).

Therefore, according to Tudor (1997), it deals with “domains of knowledge which the average educated native speaker could not reasonably be expected to be familiar with” (p. 91). As a case in point, in an ESP course developed for a group of nurses, we might include the medical terminology as well as the interaction patterns between nurses and their patients, and patient records, etc. So, for example, the courses which a tourist to England should take are essentially and potentially different from those of an air traffic controller in Singapore (Nunan, 2004).

In the meantime, one might think that the focus on specialized domains of knowledge may not only diminish learners’ language proficiency, but it may also deviate teachers and learners from the actual goal of ELT. However, as experiments, though few in number (e.g., Kasper, 1997; Song, 2006) have shown, content-based instruction which can typically be seen in ESP classes positively influenced the students’ academic success in such a way that they achieved better results in their ESL courses than those who received non-content-based ESL instruction. This may have been due to the fact that ESP courses are based on needs analysis, catering to learners’ needs and interests which, in turn, make the objectives of the course more feasible.

With the advent of Applied ELT (Pishghadam, 2011), which looks at ELT as a full-fledged and independent field of study ready to contribute ideas to other fields of knowledge, however, the focus of teaching English as a second/foreign language shifted again from considering learners’ specific needs in study or work situations, as was seen in ESP classes, to enhancing their life qualities.

In this paper, therefore, we would like to introduce English for Life Purposes (ELP) as a new concept in English language teaching and as a new trend which is narrowed down to be centered on learners’ specific needs in life. As discussed above, this does not at all mean that language learning should be marginalized in English language classes. It merely suggests that the goal of a language class should not be language learning per se.

ELP opens new vistas for researchers in the field, showing a novel way of dealing with ELT issues. Hence, syllabus designers and materials developers are first required to assess the learners’ specific needs, and then they should make attempts at designing appropriate life syllabi with respect to various aspects of learners’ lives. Moreover, language teaching practitioners are advised to use more effective language activities that will prompt the improvement of learners’ life qualities alongside their language proficiency.

Regarding the points mentioned up to here, one might argue that the burden of developing an ELP course along with designing a variety of life syllabi is placed upon the shoulders of the ELT practitioners without providing any concrete suggestion for them. Accordingly, to put our discussion on a more concrete footing, let’s consider how one important aspect of a learner’s life, say, Emotional Intelligence can be enhanced in an ELP class.

A sample ELP exercise

To provide you with an example of life syllabus, we draw your attention to the following sample exercise which can act as a potential exercise for a book designed to increase emotional intelligence and language proficiency:

Please first take the following questions, and then while trying to find some ways to cope with them, discuss your answers with your friends. Keep in mind you are expected to give reasons for you answers.

  1. The things which make me angry are….
  2. The situations which make me nervous are…..
  3. The situations which make me feel more anxious are….
  4. The kinds of people who make me feel more agitated are….
  5. The kinds of people who make me feel sad are….
  6. When I feel under stress I try to….
  7. The situations in which I cannot adapt myself are….

In 1997, Bar-On proposed five broad areas pertaining to emotional intelligence each of which contains different subcategories. These five categories include:

  1. Intrapersonal competency, which includes emotional self-awareness, assertiveness, self-regard, self-actualization and independence;
  2. Interpersonal competency, which includes interpersonal relationships, social responsibility and empathy;
  3. Adaptability competency, which includes problem solving, reality testing and flexibility;
  4. Stress management scales, which include stress tolerance and impulse control;
  5. General mood, which includes happiness and optimism.

In this sample exercise, there are some elements of emotional intelligence which can be analyzed in the following way: first, this exercise enhances Intrapersonal competency, because learners reflect closely on the things which make them angry, nervous, or sad. Thus it helps learners to move towards self-identification and awareness of feelings, which might pass unnoticed in their normal life. Moreover, in this exercise the learners have been asked to find ways to cope with these negative emotional situations, helping learners to learn how to manage stress, which is another construct of emotional intelligence. In the same vein, since in this exercise the learners are supposed to share their feelings and self-disclose themselves, it can increase the Interpersonal competency. The last question of the exercise also focuses on the flexibility power of the learners and the situations in which they are incapable of adaptability, which is another competency of emotional intelligence. Last but not least, it should be mentioned that since in this exercise everybody can answer all questions and there is no right or wrong linguistic answer, nobody loses face. In fact, this exercise can boost learners’ self-confidence in a way that a sense of happiness and optimism (General mood) in learning English is reinforced.

As this sample exercise reveals, it is possible to improve language proficiency of the learners, and at the same time to enhance one quality of life. This point must be kept in mind that what we intend to convey is not the idea that the current books available on the market are lacking in these qualities, but we like to indicate that these issues may be dealt sporadically and superficially. We need to design books in which the contents and the exercises all center their focus on fostering e.g. emotional intelligence of the learners along with their language proficiency (In this exercise we have ignored the linguistic elements (syllabus) which are familiar to all readers).

Concluding remarks

In this paper, we aimed at introducing ELP as a new concept in English language teaching. To this end, we first discussed some milestones in the evolution of ELT, finally coming up with the notion of Applied ELT which states that the field has already gained a full-fledged and scientific status, and that it has the potentiality to contribute ideas to other disciplines of knowledge. A primary goal of Applied ELT is to try to reduce, rather than alleviate, the dependence of ELT on the findings of linguistics and its branches like sociolinguistics and psycholinguistics to a minimum, and also in the hope that assigning a more contributory role to language teaching might, over the course of time change different aspects of a learner’s life.

To ascertain this potentiality, having made reference to the interdisciplinary nature of ELT and seven unique features of ELT classes, we touched upon three streams of evidence, i.e. the studies of human development, the philosophy of education for life, and the humanistic approach to education, as to the importance of enhancing life qualities in education. The HDP is based on the idea that all individuals have the right to the full development of their potentials. It is further argued that in order to nourish people’s capabilities, we need to provide them with ample opportunities. Moreover, there are some schools established based on the philosophy of Education for Life and with the purpose of providing the students with safe, stress-free and uplifting environments, while enhancing their spirituality, creativity, compassion, intuition, reason, and other values such as harmony, generosity, and kindness. Finally, the humanistic educators assert that education should empower students to lead a good life, arguing that the sole subject-matter for education is life in all its manifestations. It is of prime importance to note that none of these schools of thought intend to sacrifice the quality of content learning for the sake of improving individuals’ lives.

Next, having been compared to ESP, ELP was introduced as a new trend in ELT which is narrowed down to be centered on learners’ specific needs in life. Like ESP which deals with finding ways to help other fields of study to improve their English, ELP deals with finding ways to help all individuals to improve the quality of life along with their language proficiency. In fact, it can be a new challenge for the researchers to think up new syllabuses, based on which they can enhance one quality of life. Finally, to make our discussion more palpable, a sample ELP exercise with the aim of enhancing learners’ emotional intelligence was provided for other interested researchers who are strongly recommended to figure out how to customize ELP courses, with the proposed ELP course as a model, regarding learners’ needs in life.

The application of life syllabuses in ELP classes will necessitate a change of focus in English teaching, with a shift toward the use of the new syllabus and the creation of a fully-developed language learner as a ‘whole person’. It is true that there is the potential for some complications, or even some undesirable consequences, of this alteration in the first stages due to English language teachers’ unfamiliarity of applying life syllabi. Yet steps will certainly need to be taken to overcome them. Such an enterprise is worth trying because, although the ELP curriculum may be a language teaching tool par excellence, yet, above all, it can be a life-changing-for-the-better apparatus.

With that in mind, through introducing ELP, we have in fact given the language teacher a new identity to take on the critical role of an educational teacher who is no longer confined with the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of teaching the language per se, but with how to incorporate into the curriculum the issues which are of paramount importance in the life of learners. That is to say, we have tried to bring English teachers to the fore, while spotlighting their dual role both as experts in language-related as well as life-related issues. In fact, from now on, English teachers ought to be regarded as life teachers. Thus, for example, ELP teachers should first be able to analyze learners’ needs as to what aspect of their life should be given more prominence to be enhanced in ELP classes. Moreover, they should critically analyze the potentiality of ELT textbooks to enhance different aspects of learners’ life such as emotional intelligence, creativity, critical thinking, etc., and then they can revise the existing syllabuses in case of any inadequacy or shortcoming. To give but one example, as was shown in the previous section, they may use more effective activities that will prompt the improvement of learners’ emotional intelligence alongside their language proficiency.

Finally, if ELP hopes to grow, it is important that the ELT community as a whole understands what ELP actually represents and can concede to the various roles that ELP teachers have to adopt, and the various upcoming teaching materials that lesson planners need to develop in order to ensure its success. Only then can we certify with confidence that ELT has reached its full potential.


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