Magazine article HRMagazine

Our Workers Are Not Fluent in English. How Can We Encourage Them to Learn the Language?

Magazine article HRMagazine

Our Workers Are Not Fluent in English. How Can We Encourage Them to Learn the Language?

Article excerpt

Ask a SHRM HR Knowledge Advisor

Rather than asking employees to focus on improving only their English skills, urge them to take a range of classes to avoid running afoul of anti-discrimination laws. Basic-level courses include English as a second language (ESL), GED or high school equivalency, and math classes. Many low-skilled workers can benefit from all of these. Keep in mind that employees will be more likely to take advantage of educational opportunities that are free or low-cost and local.

McDonald's encourages its employees to become proficient in English through its English Under the Arches program, which focuses on teaching terms common in the restaurant industry. In Missouri, a Tyson Foods poultry plant has a less formal program. Workers there can access free ESL classes on their own time with volunteers at a local church.

Employers can also partner with local adult education centers, which usually offer no-cost and low-cost classes. The U. …

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