Employment and income. In the 1990s, half of all workers entering the workforce were immigrants. While many had strong academic credentials and skills, many did not (Capps, Fix, Passel, Ost, & Perez-Lopez, 2003). Limited English skills are associated with low-wage jobs; nearly two-thirds of low-wage immigrants have limited English proficiency. Some studies indicate that immigrants have a positive effect on the overall U.S. economy, contributing more in taxes than they use in services over a lifetime (Smith & Edmonston, 1997).
Why do adults learning English participate in adult education programs?
Participants in adult ESL classes give a number of reasons for enrolling in programs. They want to
(National Center for Education Statistics, 1995; Skilton-Sylvester & Carlo, 1998; Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, 2003, p. 6)
What strengths do adult English language learners bring to educational programs?
Whatever their educational background, all adult learners bring to the classroom a great deal of life experience and background knowledge. They are generally highly motivated to learn, and they usually enroll voluntarily in programs. They often have attended school in their country of origin and have learned to read and write a language before learning English. Many have positive memories of school and are eager to continue their education (Burt, Peyton, & Adams, 2003; Fitzgerald, 1995; Skilton-Sylvester & Carlo, 1998). If they have had formal schooling in their native languages, they may have knowledge in subject matter areas like math, science, and social studies. Many adult learners also have strong and supportive families, who often help with child care. They may also have support networks within their language and culture groups that help them adjust to life in the United States and gain access to services.
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