Workplace English in Alberta
The Purposes of this Module are to …
 define content-based English as a second
language (ESL) instruction, which is appropriate
for English in the Workplace programs; and
 provide information and links to resources
related to workplace English.
Content-based English as a Second Language (ESL)
 Content-based ESL instruction integrates ESL
instruction with subject matter instruction (Brinton,
Snow, & Wesche, 1989).
 When learning about a specific subject, a focus on
language objectives will assist in the development
of the language of the subject matter content.
 Therefore, a content-based ESL course must include
a balanced emphasis on both content and language
Reasons for Integrating
Language and Content
 Content-based instruction can be designed to meet
the learners’ specific academic or employment
needs and interests.
 Instruction that is interesting and relevant to
learner needs can be highly motivating and thus
offer more meaningful pathways to language
acquisition (Brinton, Snow, & Wesche, 1989;
Crandall, 1995).
Resources Internet
Essential Skills
A Healthy
Safety in the
Getting foreign
Staying healthy
/ Managing
Job Search/
Working in
Canadian work
Essential Skills Links
(click on the underlined links to take you to the websites)
 What are Essential Skills?
This website provides information about the nine Essential Skills
that are used in learning, daily life and the workplace. These skills
are common to all workplaces, but may have differing levels of
 Essential Skills and the CLB
On this website you will find information about how the
Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) and the Essential Skills are
 Job-specific Essential Skills and sample lessons
This website has information that is specific for internationally
trained workers. It lists information about how to understand the
language demands of particular jobs. It also contains links for job
specific language and lesson plans based on the Essential Skills.
Finding Employment
Occupations in Canada
 Career planning
This website lists links to relevant information about career
planning, changing careers, looking for work, negotiating
salaries, resigning and salary trends.
 Interesting occupations
This CBC website contains different jobs that are held by men
named Joe. The paragraphs are fairly simple and refer to a
variety of jobs available in Canada.
 The Canadian workforce
Three of the listening activities on this site are produced by the
CBC and are related to work issues in Canada (e.g., work vs. the
environment, women in the workforce).
Occupations (cont’d.)
 Listening activities and podcasts about employment
The CBC Manitoba has a series of integrated listening activities
and podcasts. Topics of interest related to employment include:
volunteering, retirement, dream jobs, and types of bosses.
Getting Foreign Credentials Recognized
 History and description of IQAS
Employment and Immigration Alberta provide this information
about the International Qualifications Assessment Service
(IQAS) which evaluates post-secondary education from outside
of Canada. This page contains links regarding who uses IQAS
and gives examples of qualification assessments.
 Internationally educated teachers
Teachers who have qualifications from overseas need to
consult Alberta Education for the procedures necessary to gain
Canadian teaching qualifications.
 Internationally educated health care professionals
Alberta Employment and Immigration provides information
about having international health care credentials recognized
in Alberta.
Job Searching
 Job searching for those with low literacy
This eight-page booklet from English Express has information
about looking for work in Alberta. It is a good resource for adults
with low literacy levels.
 Sample lessons
There are four sample lessons available on the Centre for
Canadian Language Benchmarks website related to employment
and job searching.
Job Searching (cont’d.)
 Video clip on body language for job interviews
This eight-minute video clip from the CBC’s morning show titled
Steven & Chris. The meaning of crossed arms, foot position,
hands in pockets, playing with hair, and leaning stances are some
of the body language explained.
 Video clip on handshakes
This is an eight-minute video clip from the CBC’s morning show
titled Steven & Chris. The guest is an expert on body language
and communication. This episode contains information on body
language for the workplace. It gives detailed information on how
to shake hands.
Filling out Application Forms
 Tips for filling out application forms
Several points for correctly filling out application forms are
 Application form cloze passage
This site contains a short paragraph and some fill in the blank
questions about how to fill in an application form.
 Examples of résumés
This website by Alberta Learning and Information Services
provides examples of résumé types and other relevant tips for
creating a résumé for a specific type of employment.
 How to write a résumé
Settlement Ontario gives information on how to write a résumé.
There are examples of chronological and functional résumés.
Other web sources are provided in the links.
 Sample lesson
Sample lessons are available on the Centre for Canadian
Language Benchmarks website. One lesson is related to
interview skills.
 Video clip about asking questions at the end of an interview
This is an interview with the Vice President of There
is advice on searching for jobs, interview techniques, and résumé
writing. The clip also includes questions to ask an employer at
the end of an interview.
 Video clip about interview questions
This video clip gives five tips for answering interview questions:
1) Listen to the question, 2) Be honest, 3) Be positive, 4) Answer
only the question asked, 5) Give a structured answer.
Workers’ Rights
Temporary Foreign Workers
 Handbook for Temporary Foreign Workers in Alberta
This is a handbook designed for temporary foreign workers that
provides basic employment information. It includes information
about agencies that help workers, and contact information.
 Temporary Foreign Workers in Alberta
Alberta’s official immigration website has many links to relevant
issues for temporary foreign workers, such as banking, childcare,
housing, and ESL training.
 Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s FAQ for Temporary Foreign
The information provided by Citizenship and Immigration Canada
on this site is mostly intended for low skilled workers and live-in
caregivers. However, this information applies to all workers with
temporary foreign worker visas.
Workers’ Rights
 Workers’ Rights Worksheets
These worksheets designed by English Express were created for
teaching workers in Alberta about employment laws. They are
designed for low reading levels.
 Workers’ Compensation Board Information
This website informs workers regarding procedures to follow in
case of an injury at work. The information is available in English
and 15 other languages.
 Video clip
This YouTube video highlights workers’ rights in Alberta.
Working in Canada
 Different forms of networking
The Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website has
some information on how to network in Alberta. Suggestions are
made about people to network with, professional associations,
and networking websites.
Canadian Work Customs
 Information on discrimination
This issue of English Express provides information on Human
Rights in Alberta. The publication deals with discrimination.
 Canadian customs from the Centre for Immigration and
This on-line booklet contains information about some
Canadian customs. Although it is not strictly work-related,
there is some information about Canadian etiquette.
 Workplace Integration of Newcomers workbook
A web book designed by the Manitoba government for ESL
learners in the workplace.
 Information on speech acts
A speech act is an utterance expressed for a particular purpose
or effect. For example, "There's the telephone" may function as
a request for someone to answer it. This site provides
information on apologizing, complaints, compliments, refusals,
requests, and thanking, along with teaching tips.
 Article on the importance of teaching speech acts
This article begins with information for the ESL instructor about
speech acts. At the end of the document, it identifies teaching
activities and lesson plans.
Pragmatics (cont’d.)
 Small talk
To establish positive relationships with their peers, learners need
to be able to establish and maintain relationships with their coworkers. Small talk is one means of doing this. This site provides
links to other topics, such as workplace humour,
miscommunication, and gender differences in communication.
Cross Cultural Communication
 Articles on diversity in the workplace
Many of the articles on this site address topics of interest for
employees unfamiliar with the North American workplace. Some
topics include what not to say to a female boss, how to dress
appropriately for work, and how to deal with workplace bullying.
 Multiple choice quizzes
This website designed for adult ESL learners contains a wide
variety of multiple choice quizzes on topics related to crosscultural communication.
 Discussion questions on culture
This website contains information for classroom teachers about
students’ cultural behaviours. It also contains conversation
starters for ESL classes.
A Healthy Workplace
Safety in the Workplace
 Worksheets about safety equipment
These worksheets provided by English Express are designed to
teach learners to identify hazards at work. They are written at
a low reading level and contain information about safety
 Worksheets about injury prevention
English Express provides worksheets to address issues of
workplace injury. They include contact information for the
Workers’ Compensation Board.
Safety in the Workplace (cont’d.)
 Workplace safety worksheets
This American website has a variety of worksheets for safety and
workplace-related issues. ESL instructors will need to screen the
worksheets before class to make sure that the information is
relevant to the Canadian context.
 Video clips about accident prevention
Although these small, graphic vignettes about safety in the
workplace were designed for young workers, they could also be
used in some ESL classes. Each skit lists ways to prevent different
types of accidents. Preview before showing to determine
appropriateness for learners.
 E-learning module about lifting
This is an e-learning module designed for English speakers
which addresses lifting safety. It can be used in whole or in part
to demonstrate how to properly lift heavy items.
 Interactive quiz about lifting
This interactive quiz designed for English speakers asks
questions about back/lifting safety.
 Pictures of lifting techniques
This site from the NASG database has two diagrams, one of an
improper lifting technique and another of a proper lifting
technique. There are also some multiple-choice questions about
lifting at the bottom of the page.
Lifting/Ergonomics (cont’d.)
 Drywall lifting techniques
This is an American website that has information about how to
properly lift drywall. There are also photographs of the
Lone Workers
 Legal definitions
This website contains definitions for instructors about lone
workers and workers’ rights. These pages may need to be
adapted for ESL learners.
 Interactive quiz about lone workers
This quiz is designed for those who work alone and addresses
safety concerns for these people. At the end of the quiz are online documents about health and safety information for those
who work alone. These may need to be adapted for your ESL
Blood Safety
 Definition of universal precautions
The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety defines
universal precautions and lists ways that workers might protect
themselves against exposure to blood-borne illnesses.
 Albertan information about Universal Precautions at the
This document from Work Safe Alberta provides information
about universal precautions on the jobsite. It offers specific
information about how to avoid exposure to body fluids, as well
as information on how to clean up after spills.
 Worksheets about HIV/AIDS
The following are worksheets that have some information about
HIV/AIDS. They are written at multiple levels for ESL learners.
Shift-work and Fatigue
 The sleep/wake cycle and shift-work
This is a series of five vignettes that explains shift-work, its
consequences, and the sleep-wake cycle, and provides tips for
the shift-worker. Some of the information might be difficult for
beginning ESL learners; however, it can be adapted by the
teacher to meet the learners’ needs.
 Maintaining a healthy lifestyle for shift workers
This website produced by the Alberta Government provides
information for shift workers on getting enough sleep and
maintaining a healthy lifestyle. There are interesting links on
page 5.
Staying Healthy and Managing Stress
 Video clip about the importance of relaxation
This is a four-minute video clip from Canada AM that focus on
the importance of rest and relaxation.
 Worksheets about signs and symptoms of stress
This website provides information for learners about how to
identify stress and deal with it in a healthy fashion. It describes
the importance of relaxation, changing perspectives, and time
 Suggestions for making the workplace healthier
Some of the topics that promote workplace health on this
Alberta government website include the afternoon slump,
back pain, healthy eating, and work/life balance.
Picture-Based Activities for Learning English
 This workbook provides examples of activities that can be
taken from magazines. These language activities can easily be
adapted for workplace English.
Recommended Websites and Readings
 Alberta Employment and Immigration
 Canadian Immigration and Citizenship
 Center for Adult English Language Acquisition (CAELA) Information about Adult Employment Instruction
 Centre for the Canadian Language Benchmarks
 Content Based Instruction
 English Express
 Laroche, L., & Rutherford, D. (2007). Recruiting, retaining, and
promoting culturally different employees. Burlington, MA:
Brinton, D. M., Snow, M. A., & Wesche, M. B. (1989). Content-based
second language instruction. New York, NY: Newbury.
Crandall, J. (1995). ESL through content-area instruction. McHenry,
IL: Delta Systems.
Carolyn Dieleman, Alberta Employment and Immigration
Gertrude Aberdeen
Laura Monerris
Dr. Marilyn Abbott
Dr. Marian Rossiter

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