Improving Immigrants' Employment Prospects through Work-Focused Language Instruction

This policy brief outlines a series of  promising approaches to link language instruction with occupational training and to address the pressures and challenging life circumstances immigrants face. 

Margie McHugh
A.E. Challinor
Author(s) Organizational Affiliation
Migration Policy Institute
Publication Year
Resource Type
Informational Material
Number of Pages

This policy brief describes the range of policies available to improve immigrants’ economic integration through language acquisition, especially those focused on getting immigrants into jobs or moving into higher-paying jobs. It assesses promising models and practices from the European Union and North America, and provides recommendations for policymakers designing accessible, cost-effective, and tailored language programs.

Noting the failure of "umbrella language courses" to give immigrants "a tangible boost in the labor market," this policy brief outlines a series of  promising approaches from both the American and European contexts to link language instruction with occupational training and to address the pressures and  challenging life circumstances facing immigrants.  Among these approaches are:  contextualizing language training for workplace use; combining language and skills training based on the model pioneered by Washington State's I-BEST program; developing formal partnerships between employers and training providers, including worksite instruction models; and accommodating the needs of non-traditional students by offering evening and weekend classes, self-study options through greater use of technology, and child care assistance.

What the experts say

This resource is brief and concise, the points are succinctly made and clearly stated.  It is also very solid: the research base for descriptive and experimental studies is robust and supports the recommendations, which are clearly articulated. It is an easy to understand resource  and has appeal to a wide audience of readers, such as program planners, one-stop centers, and the State Department of Education, as they plan policy for programs to prepare immigrants to transition into the workplace. 

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