New LINCS Course on Career Pathways

There is now an online course available in the LINCS Learning PortalPreparing English Learners for Work and Career Pathways, This interactive, self-paced online module offers approaches, models, and instructional practices for linking English language learners to career and technical training. The course was developed through the ESL Pro project and is listed now under ESL Pro in the LINCS Learning Portal. 

Marian Thacher, American Institutes for Research


There are many possibilities in serving ELLs with higher levels of education such as bridging what they know with what they need, challenging their English skills with Tier 3 vocabulary, offering relevant activities and lessons, and offering appropriate support services geared toward their interest while continuing to prepare their language skills in their fields of interest. 

Respond to this post to share your ideas about the following questions from Preparing English Learners for Work and Career Pathways.(Unit 4, Part 2)

  1. Does your program have a steering committee for your bridge program or career pathway?
  2. If so, what organizations are represented?
  3. Do you have lessons learned or tips for others?
  4. If not, what organizations would you like to have represented and why?

Respond to this post to share your ideas about the following questions from Preparing English Learners for Work and Career Pathways. (Unit 4, Part 3)

Think of a field of employment your students might be interested in. Where would you go to collect authentic materials? What would you be looking for?


Authentic materials can also be found in the silverware drawer, the toolbox, a cleaning closet or bedroom.     I have worked with people who needed to know how to say and recognize the names of tools for various jobs such as lawn maintenance (a LARGE range of tools and procedures), restaurant work, hotel cleaning, childcare, adult caregiving, fast food work-- to say nothing of the specialized jobs we have here in Maine-- blueberry raking, lobster fishing, tipping (collecting "brush" to  make balsam Christmas wreaths), lobster or other seafood processing.   Each time, the workers came so much in need of learning the tools and equipment and clothing and procedures they were working with daily.  ALL needed to know to recognize larger numbers ( numbers over 20) because those doing piece work needed to be able to verify whoever was counting their products; those working a specific number of hours needed to know they weren't being overworked, etc.   My assistant and I in our little adult ESOL program here in Downeast Maine also used Youtube to help identify actions and items for jobs that the adult workers could not pronounce or did not know the English for-- even lobster fishing!

And just one brief story about the need for this kind of COMPLETELY relevant teaching:  At the program where I was doing my study on learning centers, I had a young man who worked as a bar back in a restaurant.   I interviewed him in some depth about what kinds of tasks he performed, and then quite a lot of the content of the games and activities the students were using was created with vocabulary from his job.  Soon after the class started using this vocabulary, this young man jumped up in class and shouted " Now I KNOW what those words look like!!  I hear them since I start working at the restaurant but I never know what they are !!"  ( He was  referring to words such as silverware, fork, knife, spoon, glasses, dishes, plates, wiping rags, etc....."   He was about the happiest student I have EVER seen!!

When teachers use learning centers for multi-level, multi-everything classes, they are encouraged to set up a station or activities around these real items.  Students who work in construction are delighted to know the names of tools-- and not just the common ones-- the ones they REALLY need.  The same goes for auto mechanics, cooks, house painters, etc.  I worked with two men here who are housepainters who wanted to know the names of all the parts of a house--- we were in a new office attached to an old house so we were able to do labeling and naming activities over and over for every part of windows, doors, stairways, kitchens, etc.  They were SO pleased to know the names of parts of  stairway, doors, windows, etc that they needed for their jobs.   For outside surfaces and parts of houses, I used Google Images to find pictures and then together we identified the names of these items.   

To me, this is an extremely rewarding way to be helpings students in "career pathways" or just plain current, adequate,employment.   

Robin Lovrien 



Most authentic materials can be gathered from different locations and establishments pertaining to that career...if my students are interested in a specific job I would gather materials like brochures, books, DVDs and tools used in that career. I would also ask a speaker to come in to talk to the class about his/her job (and bring in materials, tools, equipment they use). I would also arrange field trips to colleges, universities, career/trade/technical schools, learning labs, etc, that focus on different careers (so authentic materials can be seen and used)..

Respond to this post to share your Experience using exit cards, from Preparing English Learners for Work and Career Pathways. (Unit 4, Part 4)

  1. Have you used exit cards with your learners?
  2. What kinds of questions have you asked?
  3. What do you do with the information you get?
  4. How have exit cards caused you to modify lessons?

I have used Exit Slips with my students to for summative and formative assessment. I often ask them "What did you learn today?" and "What would you like to learn about based on today's lesson?". I use the information to guide my teaching and lesson planning as well as to develop a better student-centered curriculum. Sometimes I think a lesson is well prepared and executed on my part, but the students have a different perspective and, therefore, I must adjust my "perfect" lesson to fit their needs. 

Respond to this post to share your thoughts about peer-to-peer classwork. In Unit 3, Part 2 on instructional strategies, you learned a bit about pair work and other peer-to-peer classroom activities. What peer-to-peer activities make sense for your class? Which ideas do you plan to implement?

I have a class of multilevel students and oftentimes group the students based on language skills and native languages. For example, I will group or pair students who are lower level with higher level and share the same native language, urging them to start with a 40/60 ratio of percentage of language use, 40% English and 60% native language, and slowly work their way to switching those percentages so that more English is used rather than the native language.  I have not used the List-Group-Label activity yet but like the potential it has in a multilevel class. 



As I have completed this training, I have more questions. There are very good suggestions for instruction and assessment. The suggestions for persistence is also very good. Since we are expected to offer career readiness and contextualized classes I would like to get some specific data about a few points.

1. Low level ELAs : What is the time frame of getting a HS equivalency certificate if the schooling from native country is 6th grade- 9th grade? Is there time frame difference fro Spanish speakers and Asian language speakers with the same formal schooling level?

2. ELL s with a HS diploma from native country with limited English proficiency: What is the time frame of these students transitioning to a CC certificate program or AA degree program? What is the success rate of these students in completing a certificate or AA program and obtaining a credential/ diploma? I have this question because the data match from the state consider entering a remedial class as entering post secondary education.

3. ELL s with an undergrad, Masters, or professional degree: What provisions are in place for getting credits for the academic work they have already completed in their home country? Do  higher learning institutions accept foreign credentials and courses of immigrants the same way they accept international students' credentials?