Work and Lifelong Learning Resource Base

  |About WALLRB|General Resources |Work |Learning |Work & Learning |Other Topics |


Work and Lifelong Learning Resource Base

Materials for Teaching, Research and Policy Making

Principal Investigator: David W. Livingstone
Team Members:
M. Raykov, K. Pollock, F. Antonelli


Other Topics in Learning and Work [PDF]


5.2. Immigrants, Work and Learning [PDF]


1. Alfred, M. V. (2003). Sociocultural contexts and learning: Anglophone Caribbean immigrant women in U.S. postsecondary education. Adult Education Quarterly, 53(4), 242-260.


            A study framed by sociocultural theory involved 15 British Caribbean women immigrants in the United States. Home country culture and early schooling involved learning experiences in the host country. They faced challenges in negotiating language and identity. Length of time in the new culture, level of social support, and sociocultural environment influenced learning.


            KEY WORDS: Acculturation; Adult Learning; Cultural Context; Females; Immigrants; Learning Processes; Postsecondary Education; Socialization; Caribbean.


2. Bey, M. (2003). The Mexican child: From work with the family to paid employment. Childhood, 10(3), 287-299.


            The author considers the role of the work in the socialization of children who grow up in conditions of extreme poverty. Based on research among families of seasonal migrant agricultural labourers form the south of Mexico coming to work in the north of the country. One of the few options open to these peasant families, the author argues that it also represents an effective form of socialization that enables children to prepare for their future. The article discusses the conditions surrounding the children's work and schooling, whether the minimum age of employment should be enforced, and presents the dilemma of whether it is best for children to pursue waged labour or school education.


            KEY WORDS: Child Work; Family; Mexico; Migration; Formal Training; Employment and Education; "At Risk".


3. Capps, R., Fix, M., Passel, J., Ost, J., & Perez-Lopez, D. (2003). A profile of the low-wage immigrant workforce. Immigrant families and workers. Facts and perspectives brief. Washington DC: Urban Institute.


            Immigrants compose an increasingly large share of the US labor force and growing share of low-wage workers. Immigrants' hourly wages are lower on average than those for natives. Immigrant workers are much more likely than native workers to drop out of high school. Three-fourths of all US workers with less than a ninth grade education are immigrants. Nearly two-thirds of low-wage immigrant workers do not speak English proficiently, and most of these workers have little formal education. Two of every five low-wage immigrant workers are undocumented. While the low-wage native labor force is mainly female, men dominate the low-wage immigrant labor force. Even though they are less likely to participate in the labor force, female immigrant workers are better educated and more likely to be in the country legally than male immigrants. Foreign-born women earn substantially lower wages than foreign-born men and native women. Although immigrants dominate a few low-wage occupations, such as farming and private household work, immigrants in these occupations represent a small share of all immigrant workers. There are more foreign-born workers in low-skilled manufacturing and services.


            KEY WORDS: Dropout Rate; Educational Attainment; Employment Patterns; English (Second language); Immigrants; Labor Force; Language Proficiency; Limited English Speaking; Second Language Learning; Sex Differences; Urban Areas; Wages; Formal Training; Employment and Education; "At Risk".


4. Carreon, G. P., Drake, C., & Barton, A. C. (2005). The importance of presence: Immigrant parents' school engagement experiences. American Educational Research Journal, 42(3), 465-498.


            The authors have been engaged in research focused on how parents in high-poverty urban communities negotiate understandings and build sustaining relationships with others in school settings. In this article, the authors draw upon ethnographic methodology to report on the stories of three working-class immigrant parents and their efforts to participate in their children's formal education. Their stories are used as exemplars to illuminate the challenges immigrant parents face as they work to participate in their children's schooling. In contrasting the three stories, the authors argue that parental engagement needs to be understood through parents' presence in schooling, regardless of whether that presence is in a formal school space or in more personal, informal spaces, including those created by parents themselves.


            KEY WORDS: Immigrants; Parents; Parent Participation; Parent School Relationship; Parent Student Relationship; Urban Education; Urban Areas; Poverty; Working Class; Economically Disadvantaged; Parent Role.


5. Cavallaro, F. (2005). Language maintenance revisited: An Australian perspective. Bilingual Research Journal, 29(3), 561-582.


            Language maintenance has been an issue debated whenever languages come into contact. This paper presents a detailed discussion of the reasons most often cited as to why languages should be maintained, with a specific focus on Australia because of the country's multilingual makeup. Australia currently has about 150 aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages still in use, and more than 100 languages other than English are spoken by its immigrant population. However, these diverse language resources have been allowed to steadily decline. The arguments for the maintenance of Australia's languages are categorized loosely based on Thieberger's (1990) work and each of the arguments is discussed: (a) group intergrity and group membership, (b) identity, (c) cultural heritage, (d) social-humanitarian and economic implication, (e) assimilation, and (f) cognitive development and academic achievement. This paper argues that there are many apparent advantages to maintaining languages.


            KEY WORDS: Language Maintenance; Multilingualism; Indigenous Populations; Languages; Group Membership; Cultural Background; Cognitive Development; Acculturation; Academic Achievement; Foreign Countries; Sociolinguistics; Immigrants; Ethnic Groups; Racial Identification; Ethnicity; Australia.


6. Department of Labor. (2001). No longer children: Case studies of the living and working conditions of the youth who harvest America's crops. Washington, DC: Aguirre International.


            Examined are the living and working conditions of adolescent migrant farmworkers. Interviews with 216 youth working during peak harvest time in 6 states, as well as with adult farmworkers, family members of working youth, and farm labor contractors. Most of the youth were 14-17 years old, although a few had begun work as early as age 11; were overwhelmingly male; and were living on their own. Few were US citizens or legal residents. Originating primarily in Mexico and Guatemala, a surprising proportion were indigenous. Adolescent farmworkers lived in the most marginal conditions within an already marginalized population. Extremely crowded housing was substandard. The 70% of interviewees had only an elementary education or less. Those with at least some secondary education were generally interested in furthering their education. Migrant youth working in agriculture suffered many threats and risks to both their physical and mental health. Extensive recommendations are made concerning needs for longitudinal research to guide initiatives; educational program designs to serve out-of school migrant youth, particularly in the areas of English language learning, numeracy, and lifelong learning skills; expanded eligibility for federal job training programs; enhanced legal protection of working youth and enhanced enforcement housing; and new strategies to manage the influx of migrant youth into the US farm labor market.


            KEY WORDS: Adolescents; Agriculture; American Indians; Child Labor; Educational Needs; Elementary/ Secondary Education; Labor Conditions; Mexicans; Migrant Education; Migrant Health Services; Migrant Housing; Migrant Youth; Public Policy; Social Network; Undocumented Immigrants; Work Environment; "At Risk".


7. Duff, P., Wong, P., & Early, M. (2002). Learning language for work and life: The linguistic socialization of immigrant Canadians seeking careers in healthcare. The Modern Language Journal, 86, 397-422.


            This article discusses research on ESL for the workplace, identifying gaps in the existing literature and promising directions for new explorations. A qualitative study was conducted in one type of program for immigrant women and men in Western Canada seeking to become long-term resident care aides or home support workers. The study examined the linguistic and social processes at work in the education and integration of immigrant ESL speakers into the workforce and the broader community; the issues participants in such programs face; and the insights that can be gleaned for understanding language socialization in this context. Of particular interest was the contrast observed in one such program between the focus on medical and general English language proficiency, as well as nursing skills, and the actual communication requirements within institutions with large numbers of staff and patients who do not speak English, and who, in the case of elderly, may also face communication difficulties associated with ageing, illness, and disability. Implications for future research and curriculum development are discussed.


            KEY WORDS: Immigration; ESL; Western Canada; "At Risk".


8. Gallo, M. (2001). Immigrant workers' journeys through a new culture: Exploring the transformative learning possibilities of photography. Studies in the Education of Adults, 33(2), 109-119.


            Study examines how the use of learner-generated photography in an English as a Second Language (ESL) curriculum influenced knowledge production of migrant workers in the U.S. Data were obtained from 23 immigrant workers who participated in the 26-week project. Results show that the use of learner-generated photography in the ESL classroom served as an impetus for sharing stories and beginning conversations, helping learners to see connections between past and present experiences. The use of photography also prompted a number of issues to be raised concerning such topics as racism, low wages, work inequalities, unsafe working conditions, & difficulties faced in obtaining citizenship. The project resulted in 5 transformative outcomes that helped learners both inside & outside the work space. These were critical reflection, creation of knowledge, communication, community building, and change-making.


            KEY WORDS: Immigrants; Education; Great Britain; English as a Second Language; ESL; Transformation Theory; Adult Learning; Photography in Education; "At Risk".


9. Goldberg, M., & Corson, D. (2001). Minority languages learned informally: The social construction of language skills through the discourse of Ontario employers. NALL Working Paper No. 22. Toronto: Centre for the Study of Education and Work, OISE/UT. Available at:


            Many immigrants, refugees, and aboriginal Canadians learn their own languages in the normal, informal way. These minority languages learned informally are not valued as a skill that yields returns in the labor market in the same way the official languages or formally learned languages do. What counts as a skill in a society, in a given point in time, is the product of complex phenomenological, social, economic, ideological, and political processes. Discourse is key to this process of social and cultural reproduction. The discourse of Ontario employers socially constructs the definition of what counts as a skill in Ontario workplaces and thus what warrants value in the labor market. The notion of skill is a construction that is socially created and hence changeable. If we want to change the unjust situation that affects the speakers of minority languages, we need to change the discourse surrounding minority languages to one that truly values minority languages as skills worth conserving, maintaining, and putting to use.


            KEY WORDS: Adult Education; Bilingualism; Canada Natives; Developed Nations; Discourse Communities; Employer Attitudes; Employment Potential; Foreign Countries; Immigrants; Indigenous Populations; Informal Education; Job Skills; Language Attitudes; Language Minorities; Native Speakers; Refugees; Ontario; "At Risk"; Immigrant Workers; Refugees.


10. Greenberg, E., Macias, R. F., Rhodes, D., & Chan, T. (2001). English literacy and language minorities in the United States. Education Statistics Quarterly, 3(73-75).


            Using data from the National Adult Literacy Survey, explores the English fluency and literacy of U.S. adults whose native language is not English, their fluency and literacy in their native language, and their employment patterns and earnings. Data show that only nonnative English speakers with low levels of formal education were truly disadvantaged in the labor market by their lack of English native language skills.


            KEY WORDS: Educational Attainment; Employment Patterns; English (Second Language); Income; Labor Market; Language Minorities; Language Proficiency; Literacy; "At Risk".


11. Grognet, A. G. (1997). Integrating employment skills into adult ESL instruction. Washington, DC: Office of Educational Research and Improvement.


            This paper discusses employment preparation and how it can be integrated into English-as-a-second -language (ESL) curriculum in a workplace or standard adult ESL program. It chronicles the historical link, since federal legislation in 1964, between employment and adult education and the relationship of employment and ESL instruction with the large influx of immigrants from the '70s. Distinctions between workforce and workplace instruction is discussed, noting trends since the 1970s. Research on both linguistic skills and other workplace skills needed in the workplace is reviewed briefly, and 5 areas of workplace competency identified in a major federal report by the Secretary of Labor's Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS) are detailed. Ways in which ESL practitioners can teach the SCANS skills are briefed, and other ways in which they can advance workplace ESL instruction are identified.


            KEY WORDS: Adult Education; Educational Needs; Employment Patterns; English (Second language); Job skills; Labor Force Development; Language Proficiency; Language Role; Language Usage; Limited English Speaking; Literacy Education; On-the-Job Training Second Language Instruction; Vocational Education; Vocational English (Secondary language); Work Environment; "At Risk".


12. Kadkhoda, A. (2002). Assisting foreign trained immigrant professionals. In G. R. Walz, R. L. Knowdell & C. Kirkman (Eds.), Thriving in challenging and uncertain times (pp. 105-110). Greensboro, NC: ERIC/CASS Press.


            Too often career counselors hear of, or work with, unemployed or underemployed foreign trained immigrant professionals. With the globalization of economy and shortages in skilled labor in Canada, the number of immigrant professionals is on the rise. It is becoming clear that services and programs are necessary to assist such individuals to ensure their contribution to the economy and smooth transition into a new country. However, the traditional job search and career development programs do not necessarily address the concerns and challenges that this group faces. This chapter identifies some of these challenges and proposes new programs and initiatives that may better address some of these concerns.


            KEY WORDS: Career Counseling; Counseling Techniques; Employment Services; Immigrants; Job Search Methods; Professional Occupations; Underemployment; Unemployment.


13. Leventhal, T., Xue, Y., & Brooks-Gunn, J. (2006). Immigrant differences in school-age children's verbal trajectories: A look at four racial/ethnic groups. Child Development, 77(5), 1359-1374.


            This study explored inter- and intra-individual immigrant group differences in children's English verbal ability over ages 6-16 in 4 racial/ethnic groups - White Americans, Black Americans, Mexican Americans, and Puerto Ricans (N=2,136). Although all children's mean verbal scores increased with age, immigrant children (except for Black Americans) had lower scores than respective nonimmigrant children. In contrast, immigrant children (except for Mexican Americans) had more persistent verbal growth into adolescence than respective nonimmigrant children. Family resources moderately accounted for immigrant differences in children's mean verbal scores only. The findings support different theoretical models for understanding inter- and intraindividual immigrant differences in achievement. Mexican-American immigrants and Black American nonimmigrants were struggling and merit policy attention.


            KEY WORDS: Immigrants; Verbal Ability; English (Second Language); Mexican Americans; African Americans; Puerto Ricans; Scores; Whites; Children; Academic Achievement; Models; Racial Differences; Ethnic Groups; Second Language Learning.


14. McBrien, J. L. (2005). Educational needs and barriers for refugee students in the United States: A review of the literature. Review of Educational Research, 75(3), 329-364.


            Since 1975, the United States has resettled more than 2 million refugees, with approximately half arriving as children. Refugee children have traumatic experiences that can hinder their learning. The United Nations has specified in conventions, and researchers have concurred, that education is essential for refugee children's psychosocial adjustment. However, government officials, public opinion, and researchers have often differed about what is best for refugees' healthy acculturation. On the basis of a large-scale longitudinal study of the children of immigrants and refugees, Portes and Zhou (1993) suggested the theory of segmented assimilation, which accounts for diverse entry situations and receptions of immigrant and refugee populations. This review uses their theory to consider the needs and obstacles to education for refugees, and interventions for success.


            KEY WORDS: Refugees; Students; Literature Reviews; Educational Needs; Acculturation; Well-Being; Second Language Learning; Parent Influence; Rejection (Psychology); Stereotypes; Bias; Social Discrimination; Muslims; Student Experience; United States.


15. McEachron, G., & Bhatti, G. (2005). Language support for immigrant children: A study of state schools in the UK and US. Language, Culture and Curriculum, 18(2), 164-180.


            In recent decades, immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers have sought a new way of life in large numbers, often leaving their countries of origin behind in search of places that offer a better way of life. The purpose of this study was to investigate how elementary and middle school students in state schools in Reading, England (primarily speakers of Asian languages), and Richmond, Virginia (primarily speakers of Spanish), were supported academically, when most children's first language was not English. The authors were interested in exploring whether or not there were cultural or structural differences in the way each country helped or hindered these students as they progressed through the school systems. Three UK schools in a district of approximately 100,000 and three US schools in a district of approximately 250,000 were the focus of this exploration from 2000 to 2003. Findings indicated that there were cultural and legislative differences and similarities. Teachers and administrators in both countries attempted to provide services with limited and sometimes diminishing resources. Community support varied based on resources, attitudes toward various ethnic groups, and the coping strategies adopted by these groups in their new environments. Marked differences appeared with regard to the manner in which assessments took place and how the results were made available to the public.


            KEY WORDS: Foreign Countries; Standardized Tests; Coping; Community Support; Immigrants; Elementary School Students; Middle School Students; Cultural Differences; English (Second Language); Second Language Learning; Educational Policy; Academic Achievement; Teaching Methods; England; Virginia.


16. Monzo, L. D., & Rueda, R. (2003). Shaping education through diverse funds of knowledge: A look at one Latina paraeducator's lived experiences, beliefs, and teaching practice. Anthropology & Education Quarterly, 34(1), 72-95.


            Examined how the experiences of a Mexican immigrant para-educator translated into beliefs and teaching, using the "funds of knowledge" concept to consider her experiences as critical to teaching. Results indicated that she had markedly different experiences from mainstream educators, yet numerous factors worked against using them for instruction. Her beliefs about teaching and learning stemmed from her experiences and the meanings she constructed from them.


            KEY WORDS: Cultural Influences; Diversity (Faculty); Elementary Education; Hispanic Americans; Mexican Americans; Paraprofessional School Personnel; Personal Narratives; Prior Learning; Funds of Knowledge.


17. Moran, T. T., & Petsod, D. (2003). Newcomers in the American workplace: Improving employment outcomes for low-wage immigrants and refugees. California: Rockefeller Foundation, New York, NY.; Ford Foundation, New York, NY.; Hitachi Foundation, Washington, DC.


            First-generation immigrants play a crucial role in the U.S. economy, but despite their pivotal role many immigrant workers confront enormous challenges in the labor force. The immigrant population increased from 19.8 million in 1990 to 31.1 million in 2000, comprising 11.1% of the U.S. population and 12.4% of the nation's workforce. Immigrants are expected to account for half of the working-age population growth between 2006 and 2015 and for all of the growth between 2016 and 2035, yet they are concentrated in low-skill, low-pay jobs. Some of the challenges that keep immigrants in working poverty are as follows: (1) immigration status; (2) inaccessibility of job training and placement programs; (3) rarity of job-based benefits; (4) ineligibility for government programs; and (5) discrimination and exploitation in the workplace. Some of the recommendations to funders to improve conditions are as follows: (1) enhance language access to programs; (2) integrate job training with English-acquisition and cultural orientation; (3) develop workforce programs that forge multisector partnerships; (4) help immigrants gain fair recognition and receive accreditation for their skills and education; (5) successfully educate children of immigrants; (6) educate and develop the leadership of immigrant workers; (7) protect immigrant workers who risk intimidation for union activities; and (8) improve public policy, employer practices, and economic outcomes for low-wage immigrants.


            KEY WORDS: Access to Education; Employer Attitudes; Employment Practices; Employment Projections; English (Second Language); Equal Opportunities (Jobs); Immigrants; Institutional Cooperation; Intercultural Programs; Job Placement; Job Training; Labor Conditions; Labor Force; Labor Force Development; Policy Formation; Population Trends; Public Policy; Second Language Learning; Unskilled Workers; Working Poor.


18. Orellana, M. F. (2001). The work kids do: Mexican and Central American immigrant children's contributions to households and schools in California. Harvard Educational Review, 71(3), 366-389.


            Research on Mexican and Central American immigrant children illuminates their everyday work as helpers in the home, community, and school. Their participation is shaped by gender dynamics. Their work can be viewed in multiple ways as volunteerism, learning opportunities, and cultural and linguistic brokering.


            KEY WORDS: Child Labor; Children; Family Financial Resources; Housework; Immigrants; Mexicans; Sex Role; Central America.


19. Parrenas, R. S. (2001). Servants of globalization: Women, migration, and domestic work. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.


            This book offers a study of migrant Filipina domestic workers who leave their own families behind to do the mothering and caretaking work of the global economy in countries throughout the world. It specifically focuses on the emergence of parallel lives among such workers in the cities of Rome and Los Angeles, two main destinations for Filipina migration. The book is largely based on interviews with domestic workers, but it also portrays the larger economic picture as domestic workers from developing countries increasingly come to perform the menial labor of the global economy. This is often done at great cost to the relations with their own split-apart families. The experiences of migrant Filipina domestic workers are also shown to entail a feeling of exclusion from their host society, a downward mobility from their professional jobs in the Philippines, and an encounter with both solidarity and competition from other migrant workers in their communities. The author applies a new theoretical lens to the study of migration-the level of the subject, moving away from the two dominant theoretical models in migration literature, the macro and the intermediate. At the same time, she analyzes the three spatial terrains of the various institutions that migrant Filipina domestic workers inhabit-the local, the transnational, and the global. She draws upon the literature of international migration, sociology of the family, women's work, and cultural studies to illustrate the reconfiguration of the family community and social identity in migration and globalization. The book shows how globalization not only propels the migration of Filipina domestic workers but also results in the formation of parallel realities among them in cities with greatly different contexts of reception.


            KEY WORDS: Women; Employment; Foreign Countries; Filipinos; Women Domestics; Alien Labor; Philippine; Emigration; Government Policy.


20. Sedlezky, L., Anderson, L., Hewitt, A., O'Nell, S., Sauer, J., Larson, S., et al. (2001). The power of diversity: Supporting the immigrant workforce. Washington, DC: National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research.


            This curriculum was designed to teach frontline supervisors of community-based services and programs that provide supports to persons with developmental disabilities. The curriculum is based on a set of identified competencies for frontline supervisors and the findings of a series of focus groups that were conducted by the Institute on Community Integration with direct support professionals, frontline supervisors and administrators from agencies in Minnesota. Issues, challenges, and benefits of new immigrants entering the direct support workforce were identified during the focus groups, and the materials presented in this curriculum are designed to address these challenges. Specific modules address: (1) understanding diversity; (2) building a cohesive team by supporting immigrant workers; (3) orienting and training the immigrant worker; and (4) recruiting, hiring, and organizational practices that support immigrant workers. The training curriculum consists of both a facilitator guide and a learner guide. The facilitator guide is designed to be used by trainers and facilitators who have a good understanding of the issues. Step-by-step instructions are provided in the guide for each activity. The learner guide is to be used as a workbook during the training and as a reference guide.


            KEY WORDS: Adults; Children; Community Programs; Curriculum; Disabilities; Employer Employee Relationship; Human Services; Immigrants; Minimum Competencies; Organizational Change; Organizational Climate; Organizational Effectiveness; Recruitment; Social Agencies; Social Work; Social Workers; Supervisors; Supervisory Methods; Training; Methods; Minnesota.


21. Wilkinson, L. (2002). Factors influencing the academic success of refugee youth in Canada. Journal of Youth Studies, 5(2), 173-193.


            The study examines the education experiences of refugee youth in Canada. Using data obtained from a random sample of 91 refugee youths between the ages of 15 and 21, plus data from 123 of their parents, the purpose of this study is to identify the factors influencing their educational success. The study finds that the majority of refugee youth are doing well in the education system, with about 50 per cent expecting to complete high school and to continue to post-secondary education. The remaining 30 per cent are experiencing some difficulty finishing high school and about 20 per cent do not expect to finish their secondary education. Ethnicity, refugee camp experience, appropriate grade placement on arrival, parents' health, urban residence, and number of months in Canada are correlated with academic performance.


            KEY WORDS: Academic Achievement; Education Experiences; Youth; Educational Background; Refugees; Canada; "At Risk"; Refugees.




About the CFI Project

1. General Resources
for Work & Learning

2. Work

3. Learning

4. Work & Learning

5. Other Topics  in
    Learning & Work

   5.1Technological Change

   5.2 Immigrants

   5.3 Disability

   5.4 Working Conditions

        and Stress


  |About WALLRB|General Resources |Work |Learning |Work & Learning |Other Topics |