Fostering Autonomy

By: Sofia De Almeida  

San Francisco’s low/non-English speaking day laborers and domestic workers often find themselves unable to find less physically demanding jobs that will allow them to earn a living once they have reached a certain age. Developing their English language skills is paramount to increasing their prospects of employment. While many of them have attended mainstream vocational ESL classes, these have not succeeded in meeting the low-level learners’ needs; classes are often taught exclusively in English, and tend to be regarded by many workers as alienating, rather than empowering, which renders most vocational ESL courses ineffective for these learners. Using both their L1 and English in the classroom might decrease their apprehension towards the target language, thereby fostering and developing the language skills they need to meet their goals. The presenters share a bilingual curriculum designed to prepare domestic workers to perform administrative tasks at a Day Labor Program Call Center. These tasks include fielding calls, dispatching work orders, and using an online customer database. The curriculum stems from the results of a thorough needs analysis of the workers, the employers, and the Day Labor Program itself. This assessment revealed both the need to improve learners’ English language skills as they relate to customer service, as well as their ability to communicate effectively, using the pragmatic conventions of the target language. Emphasis is placed on instruction of pragmatics, as well as on developing learners’ work-related oral and written communication skills, and basic computer skills, all of which are transferable to contexts other than the Day Labor Program. Participants will learn about a curriculum framework suitable for curriculum development in general, and will observe its practical application to this VESP curriculum, from the needs analysis to the articulation of goals and objectives and the design of the course scope and sequence.

Adult Education Multiculturalism
Organizational Cultures
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Prof. Sofia De Almeida

Lecturer, English, San Francisco State University, United States
California, United States