The lexical needs of ESP students in a professional field

Pam Peters*, Trinidad Fernández

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Citations (Scopus)


This paper examines two kinds of questions relating to the lexical needs of professional ESP students:. (1)what range of terms and words do they need help with?(2)what types of dictionary, bilingual and/or monolingual, can they make use of in solving lexical problems?The empirical data used in this study came from an in-class assignment with Spanish postgraduate students of architecture, showing that their lexical searches were less often for architectural terminology per se than for the shared terminology of science disciplines and academic discourse at large. In individual case studies, ESP students grappled with the special architectural senses of common English words, but were able to decode them with the help of both bilingual Spanish-English dictionaries and monolingual (English) dictionaries, general and specialized - whatever their L2 proficiency level. This finding runs counter to the commonly held belief that only advanced students are able to make use of monolingual (L2) dictionaries. Working with different types of dictionary engaged the students in critical lexicography, and in synthesizing lexical material from multiple sources to satisfy their lexical needs. Such training makes for independent language learning, preparing students for the bilingual or multilingual workplace.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)236-247
Number of pages12
JournalEnglish for Specific Purposes
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013



  • technical terms
  • architecture
  • semitechnical terms
  • monolingual dictionaries
  • bilingual dictionaries

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