Vocational English as a Second Language

Vocational English as a Second Language By and large, vocational English (VESL) grew out of adult education ESL programs that determined the need for programs that are more particularly focused on workplace skills. VESL developed to meet the needs of ESL students who planned on entering the workforce or who found employment and needed English skills to help them obtain other jobs or perform more effectively in their current positions. Some VESL programs focus on job-entry skills such as filling out job applications and interviewing. Other programs focus on skills needed in the workplace. Depending on the needs of the workplace, these programs may focus on clerical skills, computer skills, safety precautions, or the ability to communicate with coworkers.

Strategy of Vocational English as a Second Language

English Skill Level: Advanced Beginning to Advanced
Grade Level: Secondary to Adult

  • Decide where the program will take place (on or off the job site).
  • Determine, if not already known, who will pay for the program (e.g., the government, a private foundation, the place of work, or the student).
  • Complete a needs analysis of the students and the workplace. Which people need the training? What are their jobs? Will the students be paid for this training as part of their job, or will it be done outside of work?
  • Assess the English needs of the students and the company. Under what circumstances do students need to improve their English? What do the students feel they need to understand better? What do managers or other personnel feel isn’t being understood?
  • Develop a curriculum and lessons to meet the needs of all concerned.

Strengths of Vocational English as a Second Language

  • There is a focus on workplace skills. Students learn specific language and skills needed to enter the workforce or improve workplace communication.
  • Classes can be offered at the workplace to accommodate students’ schedules.

Weaknesses of Vocational English as a Second Language

  • The language and skills are specific to the workplace and may not include other essential life skills.
  • Employers or employees may not realize the difficulty of learning another language and thus have unreasonable expectations.