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The Vocational and Language Development of Limited English Proficient Adults

Information Series No. 363
by Joan E. Friedenberg
Order No. IN 363, Price $8.00
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T language development for limited English proficient (LEP) adults has often led to their becoming marginalized. At the same time, the skill needs of the work force and the growth in immigrant populations make it clear that access to high quality vocational training and appropriate English as a second language services is critical to the economic and social survival of the United States. This critical review of the literature examines the characteristics and needs of LEP adults and the programs and services typically available to them. The complexities of the LEP population are explored first: differences in education, English proficiency, labor market experience, and economic status make it imperative that they not be treated as a monolithic group.

Availability of programs and services for LEP adults in both the public and private sectors is described. In the public sector, these include mainstream vocational education, federally funded programs, and special programs. Private sector initiatives in business and industry and community-based organizations are discussed. The vocational instructional delivery system for LEP persons includes several approaches: bilingual education, "sheltered" content instruction, and multilingual/multicultural methods. To increase awareness of the issues involved, the paper discusses how people acquire a second language and what methods are most beneficial in aiding second language development.

The monograph concludes by decrying the lack of reliable information about the LEP population and the bias against instruction in the native language. Recommendations for improving access to programs and services encompass a number of areas: enforcement of civil rights legislation, more support for bilingual/multilingual instruction, improvement in the research base, more training for service providers, and collaboration among organizations.

Information on vocational and language development for limited English proficient adults may be found in the ERIC database using the following descriptors: Adult Education, Bilingual Education, Immigrants, *Language Acquisition, *Limited English Speaking, Private Sector, Public Sector, *Second Language Instruction, *Second Language Learning, Vocational Education, *Vocational English (Second Language). Asterisks indicate descriptors that are particularly relevant.


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