College and Career Readiness for ESOL Professionals

Lindsay Tate and Nathan Floom co-teach an online College and Career Readiness for ESOL Professionals class at the Miami Valley Technology Center Aspire Program in Clayton, Ohio, to help learners build English language skills. Lindsay and Nate were looking for a resource that combined workplace readiness with English language skills practice. They chose In the Workplace: An Intermediate Integrated Skills Textbook, identifying it as a resource that would help learners achieve their career and educational goals. The textbook has interactive features, such as clickable icons that open discussion questions, fun vocabulary activities, and reading comprehension questions.

According to Lindsay and Nathan, the textbook added rich new material to their career readiness syllabus by incorporating workplace readiness themes, such as understanding workplace safety guidelines, interacting with human resources staff, handling customer complaints, and preparing for annual performance reviews. The instructors used the situational videos to prompt class discussion about how to communicate effectively, self-advocate, take leadership and initiative in the workplace, and apply skills to other parts of life. Lindsay observed that the chapter about writing professional emails encourages critical thinking.

“The textbook has four different examples of how to respond to a work-related issue by email and learners discuss and must defend what they consider the best response, with no one correct answer.”

In this online class, the instructors shared the textbook in the class Zoom and shared the clickable icons via the chat feature for interactive small-group work in breakout rooms. They linked to the text from their Google Classroom homepage so that learners could access the text for homework activities at home. The instructors added games and Google Jamboard activities to supplement the textbook in class. They also invited local professionals to the class as guest speakers who could answer learners’ questions and expand on topics addressed in the book by giving examples based on personal experience.

“As a learner, I got a lot of things at the same time. I recommend [this book for] a person who is beginning to learn English.”

Because the book comes from Canada, there are occasional differences in the English spelling of some words, accents of speakers, and procedures like signing up for healthcare. But overall, Nathan said, “We turned it into an advantage by having conversations about the differences.” This brought up lively discussions of cross-cultural differences between learners’ countries of origin and the U.S. Learners also became acquainted with workplace norms, rights, and expectations both in the U.S. and in Canada.

In response to learners’ demand for online classes, Miami Valley Technology Center Aspire Program will again offer the College and Career Readiness for ESOL Professionals class online and will use In the Workplace: An Intermediate Integrated Skills Textbook, which has since become available as an Open Education Resource.

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