A Message from Texas LEARNS
The Texas Adult Education and Family Literacy Collaboration
Dear Adult Education Program Directors and Workforce Collaborators:
Historically, English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESL / ESOL) and job training initiatives have not been closely linked. For Texas’ 2.7 million limited English proficient residents (2000 U.S. Census), this has often contributed to limited employment opportunities.
Education Rider 82 provides an opportunity for Adult Education in Texas to respond to the industry-driven educational needs of this adult learner population, with innovative instructional practices and expanded workforce collaboration. The economic impact of having an under-prepared workforce suggests that integrated, innovative initiatives must replace sequential programs requiring English language learners to first master the language and obtain a GED certificate before beginning occupational training.
Obviously, educational innovations alone – when not accompanied by critical collaboration and linkages between contextualized English language development, occupational training, and job sourcing – are limited. But adult education can make certain that the instruction delivered is a) learner-centered and b) responsive to what adults need to know and be able to do to succeed in the 21st century family, community, and workplace. This commitment forms the very foundation of the Texas Adult Education Content Standards and Benchmarks.Determining the education and occupational training needs of English language learners requires an examination of the sectoral changes in the labor market. Information gathered by Texas LEARNS in response to Rider 82, under the direction of the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and with input from the Texas Workforce Commission, draws attention to industry sectors in which many adults seek entry-level employment:
While entry-level jobs are unlikely to pay gainful wages, each of these sectors includes occupations and career path options for which English language learners may qualify, provided opportunities to acquire employment-related language/literacy skills, work readiness skills, and occupational training are accessible.
Qualifying for jobs that pay a living wage in these sectors means that adult learners must have access to a continuum of education and training services. This access can enable learners to continue improving their language and employment readiness skills in an industry-related context while developing the proficiencies necessary for successful employment, advancement, and/or occupational training.
Minimally, workforce-related adult education instruction should include the following:
* realia are objects from real life such as coins, tools, etc., used in instruction
While the responsibility for planning and sustaining workforce-related instruction falls primarily on the shoulders of local adult education administrators and their partners in the local workforce development system, the instructor’s role in delivering contextualized instruction is pivotal.
Texas LEARNS is committed to providing adult education programs with tools to plan, implement, and sustain workforce-related educational solutions. A number of Texas’ adult education programs are already delivering quality workforce-related instruction to emerging, incumbent, and dislocated workers in their local communities. But for many programs and practitioners, workforce education is relatively new. This handbook is one of several efforts to a) increase adult education practitioners’ understanding of their important role in preparing adult learners for the world of work, and b) to offer the instructional support needed to deliver quality workforce-related ESOL instruction.The materials in Charting A Course Handbook # 2 have been assembled with adult education instructors in mind and focus on the following:
Included are practical samples, templates, and strategies for use in planning and delivering instruction responsive to adult learners’ employment-related needs. Supportive professional development opportunities can be arranged through any one of the eight regional GREAT Centers in Texas, and sessions can be adapted to meet the specific needs of individual programs.As instructors, you play a critical role in responding to the work-related educational needs of the Texas workforce. Your role is part of an evolving, dynamic process. As Texas seeks ways to better prepare its workforce, particularly those with limited English language skills, Texas LEARNS is committed to supporting your efforts.
Director of Texas LEARNS