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A good society helps its citizens flourish and visitors feel welcome.
A good society also invests in education, including teaching immigrants enough English that they can use their considerable intelligence, creativity, and skills in the workplace.
Unfortunately, low standards in public education have eroded support for government sponsored education programs. Worse, the few underfunded English as a Second Language programs usually provide only the most basic English skills. Students learn to listen and read at about 4th grade level, and speak like a child with a very limited vocabulary.
From my perspective as an English instructor and former adult ESL teacher, the current adult ESL standards too often only teach immigrants passive skills like listening and some minimum reading. English language programs, whether designed for vocational skills or general language, must include speaking and writing. If people can’t hold a conversation in English, their job prospects remain rather limited!
A frontpage article in today’s Los Angeles Times points out the obvious problem. America, or at least Los Angeles and California, have become dangerously dependent on foreign trained labor for many professions from nursing to engineering. Lack of Skilled Workers Will Lead to a Fiscal Crisis noted the headline that spoke for itself. The acute shortage has lead, as so often, to a lower of standards and more workplace problems.
When will the employers and voters decide to invest in real, serious, quality English languages for immigrants? And why are immigrants trained in English programs abroad so much stronger, better, and more effective than the adult ESL programs here? After all, immigrants have many more opportunities to speak English and learn outside of the classroom than students in Korea, Taiwan, Mexico, Argentina, or France.
Again, the case for dramatically expanding and raising the standards of our English as a Second Language programs seems clear.
Unfortunately, reason and government policy do not always co-exist in the United States! What about in your country?
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