The learners in the English conversation group at the Literacy Volunteers of Methuen at the Nevins Library in Massachusetts share a common goal of improving their English language and employability skills to secure meaningful, high-quality employment. Grace Spaulding, who coordinates the literacy programming at the Nevins Library, came to the Personal and Workplace Success Skills Library looking for up-to-date digital resources for integrating employability skills into weekly conversation group learning activities. Her priority was to find resources that would align with the learners’ goals and be easy to use for the volunteers who facilitate the conversation groups. She selected two resources, the Learn to Earn Toolkit and GCFGlobal because they meet specific criteria: they are user-friendly; offer videos and interactive lessons; and provide work-related content that is accessible to intermediate level readers. Grace and the volunteer facilitators developed a flexible plan for integrating materials from the two resources into the conversation group themes over an eleven-week period.
The learners found the Learn to Earn videos, readings, and quizzes to be engaging. Topics such as Using English at Work, Small Talk, and Listening Skills covered workplace success skills like communication, empathy, and understanding cultural workplace norms in the United States. To foster group discussion, the tutors projected the videos on a screen and distributed printed lessons. The tutors also shared the lesson links with learners who were eager for independent learning at home. The learners acquired new vocabulary, and became more comfortable and self-confident in their ability to communicate in group discussions, work in teams, and practice active listening skills.
U.S. job search strategies and resume styles were new to many learners, and GCFGlobal’s lessons on resume writing and networking provided valuable background to help them get started. Several learners had previously worked in professional jobs in their home countries and were pleased to discover they could leverage their transferable skills to include them in their resumes to present to future employers. With group support and interviewing practice, learners felt more confident about pursuing new employment.
Grace intends to continue using the resources and lesson planning template from this experience with future volunteers. She adds,
“The engaging content from both Learn to Earn Toolkit and GCF Global is perfectly tailored to the needs of our program participants, who are English language learners trying to increase their economic opportunities. Both sites are accessible and relevant to their lives and goals.”