English for Specific Purposes Research and Practice in the Past 20 Years (2001-2020) in China: A Literature Review

  •  Mei Xue    
  •  Narges Saffari    
  •  Saeid Motevalli    


This paper reviews the literature on English for Specific Purposes (ESP) research in 15 CSSCI foreign language journals in China’s CNKI database over the last two decades. The data have been quantified and visualized with Citespace. This paper analyzes research advances and themes, and then puts forward suggestions based on the current situation of college English teaching in China. The findings reveal that: 1) ESP publications have shown a rising trend during the past 20 years; 2) The study of ESP in academic dissertations is mainly at the MA level; 3) ESP research focuses on such issues as relationships between ESP and college English, academic English, corpus and teaching modes; 4) The dominant method of ESP research in China is non-empirical while more and more empirical studies have emerged since 2011. This study also critically analyzes the research limitations and recommendations of the ESP study.

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