“What I really need is to get them from the classroom and job ready as quickly as possible.” This is a sentiment that will resonate with many people who work within adult English language learning. While it is useful – and can be fun – to build skills around conversations about the weather, hobbies or visiting a grocery store, the reality is that many English language learners have a specific need: employability. Programmes and programme content that are job specific often neglect language learners, especially those beginning their language learning journey. With the launch of the new Global Scale of English (GSE) Job Profile tool, programme developers and teachers finally have a resource that provides useful insight into programme development for specific vocational purposes.
If you haven’t had a chance, take a moment to read about the development of the GSE Job Profile described in this excellent blog by Meg Gordon. To summarise, the GSE Job Profile tool maps specific job skills to the various language functions required. With this information it is possible to create a Job Profile for a specific job function. To do this, head over to the GSE Teacher Toolkit and start to work with the filters.
Create a GSE Job Profile
Follow these steps to create a full Job Profile. Once I have a profile, I like to use the option to download to create a PDF of the role. The final results act as a quick cheat sheet that summarises the key skills for specific job roles that I can then use to create job specific programmes.
Step 1: Select ‘Professional Learners’ from the ‘Choose Learner’ drop-down menu.
Step 2: Click on the ‘Choose Job Role’ button.
Step 3: Use the menu to look for specific industries, and select the industry you require.
Step 4: Then look for the specific role within the industry.
Step 5: GSE range slider should not be adjusted before you click on ‘Show results’ to generate your profile full of learning objectives that are specific to that particular job role.
Step 6: Download the results as a PDF.
Step 7: Now you have a simple-to read-Job Profile for the selected role. Create profiles for the various job roles you want to target with your programmes.
Using a Job Profile for programme development
When I’ve previously explained how to create a Job Profile, there is often a bit of excitement – but reality soon sets in. The first question I often hear is: “How do I use this thing?” This is an excellent question and one that I have been working to clarify in the past few months while I have been playing with the Job Profile tool. There are several possible ways to use a Job Profile, but this is my favourite: targeted curriculum design. This can be extremely useful and very important depending on the learner and their learning needs. For some learners the need to move from the English classroom into the workplace is imperative and the faster a learner can go from classroom to workforce, the more likely they will be able to continue with their language studies.
With this in mind, a Job Profile can provide insight into the skills at the various levels of learning, which can help with targeted curriculum development. Let’s look at this Nursing Assistants profile as an example. I can see that I have a total of 33 learning objectives that progress from the lowest level of ability at GSE 25 (A1) all the way through to higher GSE ranges between 67-75 (B2+). From a planning perspective I can break this into tiers of learning for targeted classrooms.
Let’s imagine this in a school environment. I want to create a targeted programme to develop Nurse Assistant skills. I need to take into consideration a few things: how many levels do I need? How much time will I have? How much progress do I want my students to make? What do I want my students to do at the end of the course? With this in mind I can begin to lay out the course:
Accelerated Nursing Course
5 levels (Beginner to Upper-Intermediate)
Each level: 6 weeks
Total hours of input per programme: 180 hours
Learning focus: Concentration on specific job skills
|Level||Start range||Finish range|
|Level 1: Beginner||GSE 10–20 (<A1–A1)||GSE 27–30 (A2)|
|Level 2: Advanced Beginner||GSE 25–32 (A1–A2)||GSE 37–50 (A2+–B1)|
|Level 3: Pre-Intermediate||GSE 37–45 (A2–B1)||GSE 56–58 (B1+)|
|Level 4: Intermediate||GSE 44–52 (B1–B1+)||GSE 57–63 (B1+–B2)|
|Level 5: Upper Intermediate||GSE 50–63 (B1–B2)||68–74 (B2+)|
As this is a concentrated course, my expectation is not a broad-spectrum knowledge of English, but specific proficiency in the languages and skills related to job areas. Having the skills will help to target specific programme development around the five different levels. The PDF download of my Job Profile tool can be very useful for helping to sketch out what my course would look like. As I look at the profile, I can begin to see the various courses organised aligned to the job skills.
As I outline my programme, I can take into consideration the amount of challenge I want to include as well as specific stretch goals. I know that I want students to finish at a higher level of ability compared to where they started, so I want to target skills just above their level of ability and even outside their general level of ability. This will provide challenges and opportunities to stretch learning. Knowing the level of difficulty of the various skills is useful for teachers who will need to consider how to scaffold materials to allow learners to be successful.
Now that I have identified key skills and sorted these into a programme, I have the option to review the content and look at how the content is targeting the development of job-specific skills. For example, in my Level 1 illustrated here, there are only five specific skills related to the role of a Nursing Assistant. This may not seem like a great number of skills, however my goal is to achieve measurable proficiency in these skills in six weeks. This will require some focused and concentrated speaking, listening and reading lessons. Additionally, we will be focused on language related specifically to the field of nursing, which adds a level of complexity.
Given the amount of time and the concentrated focus, these five objectives can lead to some significant progress for my learners. Of course, there will be other support skills that I may need in order to accomplish my goals, but the focus will be mastery of the job-specific skills. My assessment for success will be twofold: course completion and acquiring a job.
Concentrated programmes: just the start!
This is just the start of the potential for the Job Profile tool. The focused insight could inform everything from which books I choose to how I want to address vocabulary and grammar for specific roles. As a start, educators now have a chance to look at how their current courses align with the skills necessary for specific job roles.
Are you currently working with vocational students and programmes? What potential do you see for the Job Profiles, especially as it relates to curriculum development and review? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below…