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Issues in Improving Immigrant Workers' English Language Skills

This article addresses five points that are at issue for English language learners in the workplace (e.g., language and identity, measuring outcomes) and how employers might address them formally (e.g., through targeted ESL classes, educating non-immigrant workers) and informally (e.g., providing opportunities to use English on the job, involving leadership).
Author(s): 
Burt, M.
Author(s) Organizational Affiliation: 
CAL
CAELA
Published: 
2003
Resource Type: 
Product
Number of Pages: 
7
Required Training: 

None, but further research and training is needed to implement the suggestions

Abstract: 

This article addresses five points that are at issue for English language learners in the workplace (e.g., language and identity, measuring outcomes) and how employers might address them formally (e.g., through targeted ESL classes, educating non-immigrant workers) and informally (e.g., providing opportunities to use English on the job, involving leadership). English fluency and literacy appear to be linked to economic success. In light of this, the author provides a concise background on immigrant workers and problems they encounter in seeking ESL classes outside of work. This article provides concrete solutions and excellent resources to assist immigrant workers to improve language skills and integration into the workplace.

What the Experts Say: 

This resource is an extremely useful review of the issues involved in ELA instruction as they relate to workplace or work-based learning. The article begins with U.S. Census data - always good to provide focus and draw attention to these facts. It identifies key factors that practitioners should be aware of and stresses the potential for the successful pairing of language and job related education and training. Furthermore, ithelps identify topics for professional development. It offers a great review of literature. The resource provides well documented suggestions on successful approaches to workplace ESL. It also offers excellent arguments for engaging employers and unions in English instruction and points to the benefits of such programs from a broad social perspective. ESL teachers with little or no experience delivering services in the workplace would benefit greatly from this discussion of issues and suggested solutions.

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