An Introduction to ESL in the Workplace: A Professional Development Packet

This step by step training resource for developing ESL work-based programs includes agendas, content, participant activities, handouts, transparencies and trainer resources. The workshop series is broken into two sessions each lasting approximately six hours. Some of the topics covered are comparison between ESL and Workplace ESL classes, implementing a Workplace ESL program, evaluation and assessment, class content, contextualized learning, appropriate teaching strategies, and lesson planning.

Crocker, J.
Sherman, R.
Dlott, M.
Tibbets, J.
Author(s) Organizational Affiliation
American Institutes for Research
Building Professional Development Partnerships for Adult Educators Project
PRO-NET 2000
Publication Year
Resource Type
Informational Material
Number of Pages
Required Training

None, but one does need a general background in ESL principles and Adult learning theory to lead the professional development sessions.

What the experts say

This professional development module's continued applicability comes from the careful, thorough, and interactive design of the training and from the still relevant content on which the training is based. Since this document was written some things have changed (e.g., the economy, assessment tools and practical applications of the National Reporting System, attitudes toward immigration and immigrant workers), but the teachers, administrators, and employers still need to plan, implement, and evaluate workplace classes and teachers still need to understand the differences and similarities between adult ESL and adult ESL workplace classes and to know how to develop work-centered and worker-centered classes that serve the needs of employers and employees. Drawbacks to this resource are: the need to add newer resources (one reviewer writes "while the resources used in the workshop (e.g., for the readings, jigsaw) continue to be the bedrock resources for the field, others could be added as some" (see below for suggestions); the framework and organization of the package is behavioristic in its approach; trainers should plan more time to conduct each training module;

Some suggestions from reviewers:

Change the listed assessments to reflect changes in the field (e.g., the changes from the original BEST to BEST Plus and BEST Literacy and OVAE's disallowance of Ohio's uniform portfolio assessment for purposes of the National Reporting System). The evaluation for the workshop itself might be made more rigorous. Rewrite the overview by objectives to conform to a conceptual and cognitive approach or leave out.

Further Resources Suggested by Reviewers:

American Management Association. (2001). 2001 AMA survey on workforce testing: Basic skills, job skills, and psychological measurement. New York: Author. Available at CAELA FAQ 20. 

What are factors to consider when planning for, setting up, and evaluating a workplace program for immigrant workers? Available at, D & Ross-Feldman, L. (2003). 

Second language acquisition in adults: From research to practice. Washington, DC: National Center for ESL Literacy Education. Available at

Marshall, B. (2002). English that works: Preparing adult English language learners for success in the workforce and community. Washington, DC: National Center for ESL Literacy Education. Available at

Marshall, B. (2002), Preparing for success: A guide for teaching adult English language learners. McHenry, IL, & Washington, DC: Delta Systems Co., Inc. & Center for Applied Linguistics Tondre-El Zorkani, B. (rev., February 2006). 

Charting a course: Responding to the industry-related instructional needs of the limited English proficient: A summary report of finding in response to education rider 82. Houston, TX: Texas Learns. Available at