chapter  5
14 Pages

Vocational ESL


Adult immigrants and refugees,1 who have limited, if any, English language proficiency, as well as needing English to function in their everyday lives, may need English for the workplace or for further study. As Auerbach and Burgess (1985) demonstrate, meeting learners’2 survival needs (often called life skills) does not empower them to take responsibility for their lives as contributing members of their new society. For many, their need to eventually participate in the workforce is critical to their physical, emotional, and psychological welfare. There has therefore been a strand in adult English as a second language (ESL) that has focused on preparing learners for the workplace. This chapter will discuss the range of vocational ESL in the English-dominant countries of Australia, Canada, Great Britain, New Zealand, and the United States. It situates the discussion in the area of adult ESL, that is, programs for immigrants and refugees, as opposed to intensive English programs for international students (see Murray, 2005a for a discussion of adult ESL) or vocational programs in non-Englishdominant countries such as Germany or Thailand. Adult ESL encompasses a variety of programs to teach immigrants and refugees-English, citizenship, and work-related content.