Career preparation online

Michael and group - I teach ESL to beginning adults, and many of them had careers in the following areas: nursing, law, teaching, psychology, science, etc. I would like to find free resources online that would teach the English necessary for an entry level postion in the respective fields. Or at least material that could help them become "assistants" in their field. Any advice?

Paul Rogers 


Paul, and others,

You may find the Work Readiness and Work-contextualized Curriculum pages of the Literacy List helpful. There is a multi-page section that includes free, online work-contextualized basic skills curricula. The medical professions and allied health careers curricula, for example, are on pages 9 -13.  You may need to request permission to access this, but possibly not.

David J. Rosen

Hi, Paul -

There are a couple of resources that come to mind in reading your post.  It's been several years since I've worked with this population of learner, but I think the number and quality of resources is growing, especially online, as David's post points out.  

Additionally, take a look at the programming offered by The Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians' International Professionals Program.  There you'll find a great example of what in-person, program-based resources have to offer these learners.  Another resource is Global Talent Bridge, and their Pathways to Success Seminars, credential evaluation services, and list of online resources.  

One other note I'd add is that when you're talking about credentials, and especially state licensing, a lot can depend on where learners are located in the U.S.  States often have different requirements for the same professions, so the importance of getting 'local' information is critical to advising these learners.  Finding others - native, or immigrant - who have been through the process of acquiring a state professional license, can be the best resource for helping learners understand the level of English required, and the process for successfully completing and submitting the required applications.


Mike Cruse

Career Pathways Moderator 


          Even for entry level work in any  career field, people with foreign credentials often need English proficiency along with content knowledge of the  career. I had and always have more  professionals and career credential holders in my class than limited native language literate students. What I found out is this. Almost all professional license require  a TOEFL score and professional license in the field. I have been helping students with a two fold approach; review career content using a career pathway lesson module and improve English language skills to  understanding academic English. TOEFL test has a lot of material that require understanding of American culture, and history. Over the years out students have learned that if they improve English skills, content  language of their profession becomes easier.

One model of workforce development for foreign-trained professionals is the Center for Immigrant Education and Training at LaGuardia Community College in NY City (   ).  Their "Welcome Back Center" helps foreign-trained and -credentialed healthcare professionals move into rewarding careers in the healthcare field in the U.S. (where there is a need for well-trained personnel). CIET's Hotel Teach program helps immigrants advance in careers in the hospitality industry. I believe that LaGuardia CC hosted a national conference about this topic (i.e., helping skilled foreign-born workers move into meaningful, productive roles in the U.S. workforce) about 10 years ago.                                                                                     Paul Jurmo (

This is great! I will research all the references and keep you posted. About 25% of my students have advanced degrees and the addition of information concerning how they can continue here is extremely valuable. I also want to help people start businesses, like housecleaning and gardening. Plus a lot of my students are very good cooks and could easily run a restaurant or get good jobs as chefs. 

Thanks again.

Hello Anitha and all, Thank you for bringing up TOEFL, which, as you point out, is often a gatekeeper to advancement for immigrants. You rightly note that TOEFL requires a great deal of cultural knowledge, especially about the typical college experience. I think it would be valuable for us to have a thread devoted to this topic.

Cheers, Susan Finn Miller

Moderator,  English Language Acquisition CoP