Transitioning Language Minority Adults to Work and Training - Adult English Language Acquisition Discussion List - LINCS


Millions of adults whose first or native language is not English are seeking ways to improve their English so they can find employment that can sustain a family. For many, this means looking for programs that offer a focus on English for work and finding training programs that integrate language development with job-specific training. In this forum, we highlight models for meeting these needs, and discuss approaches and instructional practices that help adults who are not yet proficient in English to access and succeed in training and at work.

Questions to be addressed Include:

  1. What examples do we have of programs designed to link English language learners with employment and training (pathway models)? What are the key components of these models and who funds them? Should we have different models for students who are college bound and need to prepare for academic programs, and for those looking for short-term training and work? (1 day)
  2. What are special considerations that need to be taken into account when working with adult learners who are not native English speakers? What role do language and culture play in transitioning adults who are not yet fully proficient in English? What instructional strategies are appropriate in fostering work-related English skills and cultural competence? (1 day)
  3. What levels of English proficiency should be targeted, and what are the benefits and challenges of using a dual-language model for bilingual learners? What are special considerations for working with learners who have had limited educational opportunities in the home country? How do you assess English skills and native language (L1) literacy both formally through tests and informally though curriculum-based assessments? (1 day)
  4. What role can and does technology play in supporting immigrant workforce development? What are promising practices in integrating technology into pre-employment career exploration, language-skills development, and job-related decision making and problem solving? (1 day)
  5. 5. What are other issues that you would like to discuss? (1 day)

Guest Facilitator

Heide Spruck Wrigley has many years of experience in researching approaches that build the language and literacy skills of immigrants not yet proficient in English. As head of Literacywork International she has been involved in a number of national and international projects designed to link adults and youth to “good” jobs. She currently is a fellow with the Migration Policy Institute’s Center for Immigrant Integration Policy and a consultant with Jobs for the Future, specializing in models and approaches for linking ESL and training. With Jim Powrie, she provides TA for the ABE/ESL innovation grants funded by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and offers training on ESL Transitions for 3 of the Texas GREAT Centers funded by Texas Learns.

Dr. Wrigley’s publications include From Survival to Thriving: Toward a More Articulated System for English Language Learners and The Language of Opportunity: Expanding Employment Opportunities for Adults with Limited English Skills (with Julie Strawn). She has also written two textbooks for workforce ESL: May I Help You (with Lynn Savage) and Communicating in the Real World (with Terry Wiley). She will be in Rwanda this summer to work with teachers and Peace Corps volunteers on projects that prepare out-of-school youth for jobs where English fluency provides a competitive advantage.

Preparation and Suggested Readings/Resources

In preparation for the discussion, it is recommended that participants look over the following publications:

  1. From Survival to Thriving: Toward a More Articulated System for Adult English Language Learners (Wrigley, 2008)
  2. The Language of Opportunity: Expanding Employment Opportunities for Adults with Limited English Skills (Wrigley, Richer, Martinson, Kubo, Strawn, 2003)

    reviewed at:

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