customer service representative at a desk

At Language Testing International (LTI), we’ve seen countless examples of how learning a new language can unleash a world of new possibilities and opportunities, for individuals and for businesses.

Focusing on business opportunities, people are often unaware that learning a new language can lead to career advancement within certain job roles, or it can lead to completely new company offerings, or career path options for employees. When individuals migrate to the U.S. from a different country or territory that predominantly speaks a language other than English, learning and being able to communicate well enough to obtain sufficient employment to sustain themselves and their family becomes the imperative. Especially for professionals arriving to the U.S. escaping crisis situations, learning English and finding work is not necessarily about accessing career advancement opportunities, but it’s oftentimes mostly a matter of basic survival.

On a recent episode of LTI’s “Language Is Your Superpower” podcast, special guest Casie Arellano explained how the work she does with her community’s English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) population helps adult learners become proficient in the English language and also apply their ESOL education as a direct pathway to obtaining employment.

Casie Arellano has been in education since 2009 and began working with Adult Education programs in August 2017. She currently oversees all ESOL programs with Brevard Adult and Community Education in Brevard County, Florida, where she has been working on building outreach centers to help adult learners develop pathways to achieving their dreams using language as a stepping-stone. Their ESOL program is one of the most successful programs they conduct, assisting students who are integrating into life and the culture of the United States. Courses cover improving language skills, learning about U.S. culture, and preparing to become a U.S. citizen.

Casie explained that, within her community, “a lot of the [ESOL] population that comes to us, they already have education from their countries, and they are looking to start their lives here in Florida. We help them to get into the workforce.” Casie explained that one of the ways they can accomplish this is through a partnership with CareerSource Brevard. “We teach [the students] English and then we offer the classes at their centers, and they work with a career counselor and the career counselor will help put them into jobs.”

Casie told us that they have various centers that assist with different aspects of ESOL learning. She said, for example, “if they come to our direct center, we’re teaching them more about the language and how to use the language in their everyday lives, such as going to the grocery store, such as making doctor’s appointments and things like that.” However, for those seeking to obtain employment, “when we teach the class at CareerSource Brevard, we’re more focused on the language that they’re going to use in the workforce.” This workforce-focused pathway not only teaches students how to communicate with more professional vernacular, but it also provides additional online resources that help students learn industry-specific terminology.

Casie shared that one of the tools available to the students is “an online program that is phenomenal in helping them with the language.” She went on to provide the example that “if they’re interested in … [preparing] taxes, there’s a program [within] this program to teach them all of the language they are going to need and that they’re going to use if they choose to have a career as a tax preparer.” Additionally, they focus on seeking job opportunities where being bilingual is an asset, such as positions as a flight attendant or as a customer service representative in a call center.

The experiences and stories Casie shared with us illustrate how powerful language learning programs can have in a diverse region. They emphasize that when these language learning programs are supported with job readiness training and services that help immigrant populations integrate effectively in the workforce, this results in increased economic growth for individuals and businesses alike.

Learn more by tuning into our podcast with Casie Arellano.

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