The English for Employment classes at The New American Association of Massachusetts address the immediate language and cultural adjustment needs of immigrants and refugees recently settled in Lynn and the North Shore. Our students come from life experiences as far apart as their countries. Unschooled, illiterate farmers sit side-by-side with educated and experienced professionals, sharing a common bond of their history as refugees who have fled persecution and their desire to become proficient in English. The diversity of culture, age, experience, education, nationality and language ability represented by our clients makes the classroom both dynamic and challenging.
At all levels, active participation in role plays, interactive games, and pair or small group work is used extensively to get students practicing and deveoping their spoken English as much as possible. Our classrooms are a safe and supportive environment for students to share their life experiences, to encourage each other in their search for employment, and to believe that a better life is in all of their futures.
At the beginning level, some students are learning to hold a pencil as they try to master the English alphabet and phonics to eventually be able to read. In order to fulfull the expectations of “survival English,” students will also learn vocabulary and basic spoken interactions to meet their daily needs such as shopping, banking, taking public transportation, visiting the doctor’s office, communicating with their children’s teachers, and ultimately, learning to fill out basic forms with personal information and respond to standard job interview questions.
Students who have advanced beyond basic beginnng English will learn to take an active role in searching for work and preparing for job interviews as they expand their oral and written skills.
Class topics for the intermediate levels rotate on a ten-week basis, covering aspects of American Health, Education, Law, and Transportation, among others. Eventually, the students will begin to learn employment-related topics. They will be able to describe their own past work experience, articulate their skills and personal qualities, recognize workplace behavior, and express hopes and desires for the future. Time is taken each week to learn how to search for jobs on the internet, filling out both paper and online applications, and participating in mock job interviews.
In addition to classroom time, support is offered by our ESL teachers and volunteers who work one-on-one with students.
Students who prove to be struggling with basic literacy have the option to join a small group session where they will work closely with our volunteers who can give them individual attention that helps improve their basic English.
For our students whose English is fluent enough to be considered Employment Ready, they will have the option to join a special Career Exploration class whose only focus is to prepare students for employment. Time during this class is spent creating resumes and cover letters, e-mailing hiring managers and filling out applications, and practicing for interviews.