The to this world-wide socioeconomic context, that ESP students

The globalization of the economy and communication
market in combination to the rapid development of technology have led to the
creation of new literacies which are affecting both fields of higher education
and workplace. Thereby, teaching English for Academic or Professional Purposes
in our thriving Digital World has to be able to compensate for the students’ evolving
needs, promoting critical thinking and autonomous learning while focusing on
the development of multi-literacies. The key to this world-wide socioeconomic
context, that ESP students need to gain, is the label of multi-literate.
Assisting ESP students to become multi-literate is the foundation of understanding,
deconstructing and constructing the meaning of a large variety of new forms of
texts, especially electronic texts (Luzón, 2007).

English for Specific Purposes (ESP) refers to English
as a second or foreign language teaching and learning which are aimed to a
particular academic area of study or professional field.There is a general
consensus in the literature that ESP should be perceived as an approach to
language learning which caters for the learners’ particular needs for communication
in their professional context (Hutchinson and Waters 1991, Paltridge and
Starfield 2013, Muñoz-Luna and Taillefer 2018). An
integral component of ESP courses design is needs analysis. A needs analysis encompasses
identifying the learners’ needs and expectations pertaining to the ESP
course (Hyland 2006, Gálová 2007, Paltridge and Starfield 2013). Both the content and the methodology of ESP courses
are designed with respect to the learners’ needs, while the learners’ previous linguistic knowledge may
also be taken into consideration. It is in this way that ESP teaching is
transformed into a learner-oriented approach.

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ESP pedagogy has also been impacted by the ongoing
development of new technologies.Over the last decades, there is a growing
interest in technology implementation in the ESP classroom.Since ESP pedagogy
has been developed as a learner-oriented pedagogical approach, ESP teaching can
benefit from the use of technological tools. Technology puts the learners at
the center of the learning process, transforming them into active agents. Technology-enhanced
ESP teaching suggests a constructivist approach to learning. The main principle
of the constructivist approach is that learners construct their learning based
on their prior knowledge and experience (Piaget 1980). Learners gain access to
ample authentic materials which enable them to get acquainted with real-life
conditions and at the same time practice and consolidate what they have learnt
in the classroom.

The ultimate goal of an ESP course is the promotion of
learners? autonomy. Technology-enhanced learning is conducive to fostering
learner autonomy, since it offers many opportunities for individualized
instruction and self-directed learning. The teacher acts as a facilitator of
the learning process, providing learners with the required guidance. In their
turn, learners become active participants in their own learning. Cooperation
and communication skills are also considered to be indispensable at the
workplace. Apart from the apparent aims of ESP teaching, namely rendering
learners into effective communicators of the English language in particular
settings, another objective of ESP teaching is to instill in them skills which
will be useful throughout their academic and professional life.In the context
of ESP, tools, like Wikis and blogs allow learners to interact with each other
and engage themselves in collaborative writing tasks (Bárcena et al 2014).

The integration of educational technology in ESP
teaching also presents some challenges to both teachers and learners in today’s
digital world which is characterized by a variety of communication technologies
such as multimedia and the Internet, while the nature of embedded texts is
multimodal since they are usually the result of written, audio, visual,
animation and graphic materials. The need to become multi-literate is crucial
in order to search, construct and deconstruct different modes of information
which are necessary in order to succeed in the current economy market (Cope
& Kalantzis, 2000). As a consequence, ESP courses have to be created with
the core goal of making students multi-literate. Kasper (2000) considers
students multi-literate when they are able to manipulate information deriving
from different communication modes and thrive in worldwide learning
communities. The label of literate has expanded in order to entail apart from
linguistic competence electronic literacy as well. Electronic literacy has been
defined by Shetzer and Warschauer’s (2000) as the ability to handle electronic
tools in order to search, construct and communicate. ESP courses have to engage
students in new thought processes and equip them to manage hypertexts and
interactive multiple media while learning how to publish their work online and
take part in online synchronous and asynchronous exchanges (Coiro,
2003).Another skill that ESP students have to master is to evaluate Internet
information based on accuracy, usefulness on the given task and ideology while
classifying it as fact or point of view (Slaouti, 2002).First of all, teachers
should determine specific criteria for the selection of language learning
materials and digital resources. They should adopt a critical attitude towards
the various technological tools in order to assess whether they live up to the
learners’ needs and expectations of the course (Chapelle 2007, Chapelle and
Sauro 2017).

The present paper is concerned with the use of
Webquests in ESP contexts. The main objective of the study is to offer insights
into the implementation of Webquests in the ESP classroom as well as into the
benefits resulting from their use. More specifically, the following issues will
be addressed and discussed. In the first part of the paper, we attempt to
provide a comprehensive overview of how Webquests can be used in different ESP
courses, whereas the second part is intended to investigate the effectiveness
of the application of Webquests in English for Medical Purposes classrooms.

 

1.2  Webquests in ESP Pedagogy

Webquests
are defined as inquiry-based learning activities that involve learners in
researching and using web-based tools and retrieving information from the
Internet with the aim to create their own projects (Dodge 1995). The model is
based on the premises of the constructivist approach. Learners are required to
retrieve and process information they find on the Internet and use this
information for the creation of original projects. According to March (2003), another
key feature of Webquests is that learners are involved in a scaffolded learning
project which they need to complete based on authentic content-based online
resources. A Webquest consists of six parts: a) an Introduction, which sets the
main objectives of the project, b) the Task, which informs students about what
is expected from them, c) the Process, which outlines the steps taken by the
learners, d) a list of resources provided by the teacher as guidance, e) evaluation,
which determines the criteria learners can use as a basis for the assessment of
their final product and f) the conclusion, whereby the main aims of the project
are summarized and learners are encouraged to continue their work (Dodge 1995).

Although they
were not originally designed for use in foreign language learning, Webquests
are increasingly gaining ground in the foreign language learning field, and
more specifically in the area of ESP.ESP courses have embedded  in their core the autonomous learner regime
since an active learner is a more effective learner and able to address his or
her future needs, a regime that is shared by Webquests and can be realised by
providing the students the ability to choose from alternative paths and different
sub-tasks their way towards solving the task (Luzón & Gonzalez, 2006).

What differentiates Webquests from other forms of
web-based tasks implemented in educational settings is that Webquests ask
learners to make a thorough analysis of the available resources and reconstruct
the information. In the process of completing a Webquest task, learners
transform the available information by making comparisons, combining them in
order to draw assumptions, solve problems and make decisions. The teacher
offers clear instructions, monitors learners’ progress and supports them in
every step they take. Upon completion of the task, learners proceed to the evaluation
of the final product and the steps followed throughout the task. It is especially
this part of the task that enables learners to reflect on the whole process and
develop their cognitive and metacognitive skills. Metacognition comprises
planning, monitoring, evaluating, categorization, abstraction processes and
reasoning (Peña-Ayala 2015). A useful tool of self-awareness which is highly
needed in ESP courses and can be found in Webquests is the electronic journal,
which can be used by students to increase their self-assessment by recording
all the gradual paths of thought they went through in order to complete the
task (Luzón, 2006).

Webquests can be used as an essential tool in the ESP
course since through

completion of their task students will be introduced
to online glossaries, dictionaries, grammars and online maps that could be
useful in future tasks. Also, provided timelines and presentation samples or
writing templates will help students to learn how to organize their search
while incorporating multimedia elements and structures (Dodge, 2000).Genre-based
approach that characterizes ESP can be incorporated in Webquests by focusing on
the form by including a large amount of different texts with highlighted
specific features through animation (Doughty & Long, 2003).

Learners have the chance to use English in meaningful
contexts and get involved with real-life situations. Webquests can be employed
to create an authentic environment where students are exploring real issues by
collecting, processing and transforming information from the internet. Students
own their learning by working collaboratively and taking individual
accountability of their work (Kundu & Bain, 2006). On the same context of
collaboration, students could be asked to complete the final part of the task,
discussion and information exchange, online for exercising their communicative
English skills within the comfort of their group (Simina & Hamel, 2005).
Using online communication tools can also be used among the students and the
instructor to gain feedback on the task’s progress (McLoughlin & Luca,
2006).

According to Laborda (2009), Webquests can be embedded
in ESP courses for tourism where students will simulate a real life task of
gathering authentic material and conversing with potential future costumers in
a travel agency by searching for the best packages of transportation and
accommodation fares.Webquests can be included in ESP business courses for
adults by engaging with a variety of linguistic styles and developing business
skills in an environment that pushes adults to become a part of the new
technology generation (Dede, 2005).

Another professional field in which Webquests are
widely used is Medicine. Webquests can be used to teach Medical English by
assigning the students the role of the doctor who has to solve medical
mysteries by studying a disease’s symptoms and applying potential treatments in
order to reach to the correct diagnosis (Ghobain, 2016). Webquests are
characterized by pedagogical approaches and cognitive activities that are also
found in nursing education. By using Webquests nursing students come across a
step-by-step approach that initiates them into the world of nursing by
searching sources on the Internet (Lahaie, 2007).

1.     
Methodology

Implementation

Evaluation

 

 

 

 

Learning
from online activities is more student friendly than learning from books or
teacher’s notes while it promotes independent learning. Students build new knowledge
from already known information in theprocess of answering the different
activities and employing critical thinking. By using Webquests, students getfamiliarized
with searching information through the Internet synthesizing and taking
decisions about the use of that information.Teachers employ WebQuests in order
to integratedifferent ways ofreading as often as possible so as to lead the
students to acquire their own critical knowledge upon the subject.Students will
also be able to experiment with the target language in acontent-based learning
(Girón-García, C. 2016).