I currently teach Advanced ESL to a wonderful group of students from all over the world. The main goal of all of these students is to get a better job and make more money to support their family. I and the rest of America can certainly relate to this goal. It is a goal inherent in all of us. What makes this goal more difficult for ESL students is of course language. Here are the top 3 things I have found helpful in preparing my ESL students for employment!
My background is in theater, and I am quite the pronunciation expert. I firmly believe good pronunciation should be the foundation of every ESL class no matter what level. Good pronunciation builds confidence and increases fluency. I cannot stress how important self confidence is for students seeking new employment. I highly recommend Focus On Pronunciation by Linda Lane. There are 3 levels, and all of the books are wonderful.
2. Group Projects
Group Projects are a great way to give students experience in different job roles. Each project we do involves some kind of business, and each group member must choose their role. For example, last week we did a product development and product launch activity. Students had to choose one of the following roles: CEO, marketing director, marketing assistant, and product brand ambassador. Each employee had different tasks to complete, and the CEO oversaw the running of the organization. Group Projects really teach students how to work well with others. Some students do have more trouble in Group Projects, but in the end it is great preparation for the workforce.
My semester is divided up into themes based on State Standards. Each theme I plan either a group project or a self project. By the end of the semester, students have been exposed to many different jobs and have a clear picture of their strengths and weaknesses in different roles.
3. Goal Setting
Goal Setting is an obvious point, but still needs to be brought up. I always do goal setting at the beginning of the semester. Our class is in Florida, and there is a great website put out by the Dept of Education called Florida Choices
This website allows students to explore different career clusters through a series of different surveys. Students can also create resumes, cover letters, and thank you letters. There is also interview help as well in the form of “mock online interviews.” It’s a great website for setting goals, and I recommend finding something similar for your students to work on.
I would say at the heart of all 3 of my recommendations is we have to build student’s confidence. Finding a job is a daunting task, and when you add a language barrier on top of that confidence levels will drop. As ESL teachers we must build our student’s confidence and provide them with the tools to advance and achieve their dreams!