Beyond the Vocabulary: Ensuring Relevancy for Language for Specific Purpose Courses

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
Joshua M. Pongan / North East Modern Language Association (NeMLA)
contact email: 

NeMLA Annual Convention

11-14 March, 2021

Philadelphia, PA

Language for Specific Purpose Courses (LSPs) have secured a permanent place in foreign language programs, with offerings purporting to foment language acquisition aligned with professional areas such as healthcare, business, legal studies, education, criminal justice and more. In theory, these courses break from the literature and linguistics fields that have traditionally dominated foreign language programs in order to attract more language students and to make them marketable to be competitive employees in the 21st century job market. However, too often courses and the learning objectives that structure them go no further than the acquisition of specialized vocabulary. This panel seeks to explore strategies in course design, pedagogical tools and assessment of LSPs that not only foster the acquisition of relevant professional vocabulary, but that also develop precise written and oral communication, critical thinking, and problem solving. Additionally, LSP courses are uniquely positioned to explicitly cultivate intercultural competencies allowing students to succeed in global contexts, whether in the states or abroad. In fact, these aptitudes are precisely the abilities that employers seek when hiring new employees. In dynamic professional contexts which demand flexibility, adaptability and analysis, a bilingual or multilingual problem solver is an invaluable asset. Furthermore, although LSPs have unfortunately been deemed an alternative, sometimes less rigorous path in foreign language programs, the reality is that the language and critical proficiencies developed correspond to the best liberal arts outcomes and, therefore, complement and enhance traditional branches of foreign language programs. Students learn to read closely, assess, synthesize, imagine and communicate. This session will re-envision the depth of the LSP, their place in the humanities and the ways in which they create a portal for students from any major to explore upper level language. 

Please create a user account, and submit a 300 word abstract before September 30th, 2020 through the NeMLA submission page:

For detailed guidelines for submitting proposals you can follow this link:

NeMLA membership is not required to submit abstracts, but is required to present at the conference.

You can direct questions to Joshua M. Pongan (

About NeMLA Convention: