Special Populations Collaborative

Effective Practices for Limited English Proficient Students

Cerritos College Breaking Through Initiative

Maggie Cordero,

Director of Adult Education & Diversity Programs

562-860-2451 ext 2490 or mcordero@cerritos.edu

Target Population: Spanish speakers, who more than likely have a job and are seeking to improve their job skills to obtain a higher skills-higher pay job. The program includes some immigrant Spanish speakers who are seeking first time jobs, but these individuals compose a lower percentage than those improving their job status.

Goals: To implement institutional change to support low skills adult learners, and to implement effective strategies to increase skills and knowledge for potential higher wage higher skills job opportunities. The Bilingual Program is a measured transition from Spanish to English that allows the student to learn English at the same time that they are learning a new occupation skill.

Description: Through very active marketing and outreach within the Spanish speaking community, individuals are brought into the program who desire to upgrade their job skills within one of the six target occupational areas: welding, machine tools (CNC), plastics, automotive, pharmacy clerk, and health care (medical assistant). Those accepted into the program gradually transition from a Vocational English as a Second Language course to bilingual introductory credit courses to English only credit courses until completion of the requirements to receive a certificate or AA degree in the occupational area chosen. Staff involved in the program greatly assist students in each step of the way through understanding what is offered, to enrolling in classes, either in person or online, through one on one bilingual counseling throughout the skills learning process, through completion of a certificate or AA degree program.

Staffing: The majority of all work is done by the Adult Education staff that includes the director Maggie, one full time program assistant who deals specifically with the bilingual programs, 6-7 part time adult ed assistants, 2 part time counselors from within the college, and one job developer.

Facilities, equipment, materials: The program is housed on campus within one section of the Adult Education services program.

Costs, funding: As part of the on-going college Adult Education services program, this program is funded through FTES and other credit and non-credit funding sources as an Adult Education outreach program within the area that serves a significant amount of Hispanic immigrants in search of higher skills-higher pay jobs.

Outreach and marketing: The program has a dedicated group of bilingual (Spanish language) Adult Education practitioners who do not hesitate to make contact with the immigrant community in search of potential students. Outreach is accomplished through continuous grass roots speaking appearances at community events, elementary schools, churches, and other avenues. The local Spanish speaking TV and radio stations run marketing and informational pieces on the program, as does the local Spanish speaking Catholic newspaper publication.

Evidence of effectiveness: The program considers this issue one of the most difficult areas to nail down, and gain a measure of effectiveness, as students have a tendency to simply go away when they have gained enough new skills learning to go out and get a newer, better job. The program does have a lot of feedback from word of mouth within the community they serve, and do have a number of students who return to thank them for their assistance in helping achieve their goals of acquiring new skills, completing a certificate or degree program, or obtain a new job.

Suggestions for replication: The program first and foremost requires the cooperation of both the non-credit and credit department to work together. We suggest that a college replicating this program start small, with one occupational area, as did Cerritos College and slowly built from there. The biggest snag is getting the initial funding to get the program started to hire the necessary staff, instructors and purchase materials prior to the start of the program. It is easier to replicate in areas where the majority of students they serve speak one language, as is the case with us, we serve a predominately Hispanic population.