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E.g., 04/15/2024
Improving Immigrants' Employment Prospects through Work-Focused Language Instruction
June 2011

Improving Immigrants' Employment Prospects through Work-Focused Language Instruction

Immigrants’ employment prospects depend on their underlying levels of education and technical skills as well as their ability to communicate as needed in the host-country language. Since basic language courses do not impart the host-country language skills necessary for success in the workplace, many governments on both sides of the Atlantic are eager to expand work-focused language training. Yet implementing effective employment-focused language systems is difficult, as policymakers must find ways to design cost-effective programs that are sufficiently tailored to the needs of a wide range of occupations and that take account of immigrants’ underlying literacy skills and their financial and family circumstances.

This report describes the range of policies available to improve immigrants’ economic integration through language acquisition, especially those focused on getting immigrants into jobs or moving into higher-paying jobs. It assesses promising models and practices from Europe and North America, and provides recommendations for policymakers designing accessible, cost-effective, and tailored language programs. These recommendations include: expand language instruction contextualized for workplace use; combine language and skills training; encourage partnerships and work with employers; encourage workplace-based instruction; take into account the needs of nontraditional students; evaluate programs; and share and support effective practices.

Table of Contents 

I. Introduction

II. Work-Focused Language Learning

A. Promising Approaches to Work-Focused Language Training

B. Financing Language Instruction Programs

III. Recommendations