On the Job: ESL and Essential Skills for Work - Reading Text

This guide provides examples of how ESL instructors can develop instructional activities using the learner outcomes identified in the Readers’ Guide to Essential Skills Profiles and the Canadian Language Benchmarks: English as a Second Language for Adults.

Centre for Canadian Language Benchmarks
Author(s) Organizational Affiliation
Centre for Canadian Language Benchmarks
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This brief booklet introduces the concept of the Canadian Language Benchmarks/Essential Skills as it relates to workplace reading tasks.  The Language Benchmarks were designed to help immigrants be better prepared for the workplace. This resource offers suggestions for contextualized lesson plans and activities (this example uses tasks that cleaners and cooks must do) that address reading instructions, supervisor notes, labels, memos, etc.  The authors give tips and resources for linking reading activities to relevant tasks.  This is an introductory piece but has good suggestions.

Required Training

Should be read in conjunction with the Readers' Guide to Essential Skills Profiles as it provides information on the levels, reader profiles, research and development of the activities, and further information on teaching reading and other competencies.

What the experts say

On the Job: ESL and Essential Skills for Work – Reading Text is a short document that seeks to show how the Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB)/Essential Skills relate to occupational reading tasks. It uses the tasks that cleaners and cooks must do as examples of how to use several of the CLB resources in classroom instruction, and offers suggestions for teaching techniques, lesson plans, and activities. This resource is valuable for its focus on workplace reading, which differs from most academic reading. The authors point out the importance of scanning and skimming skills at work, and the importance of introducing learners to complex formats (e.g., following columns and rows to find specific information), even at low levels.  The links to authentic reading materials are very useful and highly recommended. (Note: Many of the links appear to be broken; you may need to do some searching on your own.)

Those who are merely looking for workplace ESL lesson-planning and activity ideas may find this resource somewhat confusing in organization, but upon scanning the short document may find that it contains some useful ideas. In particular, there are four teaching ideas that describe workplace-oriented reading tasks for students at different levels of proficiency. There are also several additional workplace ESL resources that are noted, along with information on how to locate them. A U.S.-based practitioner would find the occupational classifications referenced in this resource very similar to U.S. occupations, and therefore, potentially useful. It should be noted that the use of these classifications to design instructional tasks seems to assume that most or all students in a classroom practice the same occupation. Practitioners seeking to meet a variety of needs will need to design workforce ESL lessons instead of workplace ESL lessons (i.e., integrating specific skills into a general lesson).

This resource will be most useful if used in conjunction with the other reviewed Canadian Language Benchmarks as this resource is an example of how to concretely apply suggestions from the other documents.

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