Language for Work: CLB and Essential Skills for Trainers

This guidebook was developed to help immigrants meet employment goals in the Canadian workplace by enhancing the understanding of Essential Skills (ES) for facilitators who work with immigrants.

Centre for Canadian Language Benchmarks
Author(s) Organizational Affiliation
Centre for Canadian Language Benchmarks
Publication Year
Resource Type
Informational Material
Number of Pages

The Language Benchmarks were designed to help immigrants be better prepared for the workplace. This resource establishes a guide for practitioners on teaching important language and literacy skills for work. This manual explains the skills, offers learner profiles and interventions for common language learning problems, best practices, diagnostic checklists, and a section on working with new ESL teachers.

Required Training

None, however, it would be useful to read Relating Canadian Language Benchmarks to Essential Skills and ESL for Adult Literacy Learners (not reviewed by expert reviewers).

What the experts say

Language for Work: CLB and Essential Skills for Trainers is a manual for trainers explaining how the Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) and Essential Skills may be used together to enhance adult immigrants’ employability. It offers a model for linking Canada’s language benchmarks with its Essential Skills for work. The resource offers learner profiles, suggests best practices and interventions, and provides a number of diagnostic tools, tips, and information about additional resources.

This resource, like the other Canadian Language Benchmarks publications, is written primarily for a Canadian educational context.  However, it is a useful resource for adult ESL practitioners in the United States, for those who are either using the CLB resources as tools or models, or for those are interested generally in helping immigrants improve their workplace readiness. Those outside the adult ESL field, including workplace trainers, labor union apprenticeship instructors, or adult basic education (ABE) teachers, may find useful tips and tools in this document to help them set up a workplace ESL program, diagnose training needs, and better understand adult ELLs generally.

Among its most significant features I would list its clarity, a hallmark of most CLB publications. The plain language and clear layout are easily accessible for readers and the guidelines are easy to understand and use. Other useful features include a list of best practices for ESL program providers, a reflective practitioner checklist, and excellent, informative profiles of adult learners (as well as guidelines for creating new profiles) that would be particularly instructive for practitioners outside of adult ESL. There are not enough quality publications in the field that serve the needs of adult ESL trainers and others who work with adult ELLs, and fewer still that focus so closely on employability. This is a strong addition to the field, containing components that can benefit and enlighten U.S. educators whether or not they are using other CLB resources.

One reviewer stated that the resource glosses over the complexities of working with employers and the challenges that the workplace environment poses to the creation of effective language training programs. For example, on page 19, the authors propose a list of best practices for workplace programs, including providing diversity training. However, such training is fraught with pitfalls and needs to be planned and implemented carefully. The authors do not address the complexities of this supposedly simple recommendation.  Workplaces are complex organisms that house a variety of conflicting interests which all need to be considered when setting up a training program.  A recommended example of a more comprehensive approach of this particular issue is offered in Tennessee ESOL in the Workplace

Reviewer suggested resource (NOTE: These resources have not been reviewed by LINCS experts):

Kalev, A., Dobbin, F., & Kelly, E.  (2006). Best practices or best guesses? Assessing the efficacy of corporate affirmative action and diversity policies.American Sociological Review, 71, 589-717.

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