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Submitted By: Mary Ann Sanidad, Gavilan College

Curriculum Institute sparks innovative solution among consortium members

The Challenge

Traditional English as a second language (ESL) programs have many levels, and their courses do little to prepare students for the work world. The Gavilan Regional Adult and Career Education Services consortium knew that it was a challenge for many students to complete an entire ESL program sequence and then move on to credit-bearing college career technical education courses, and it wanted to change that.

The Solution

To address the challenge, Gavilan College, a consortium member, hosted a Curriculum Institute led by the Career Ladders Project. The event was a three-day convening of ESL instructors, CTE instructors and a few administrators from across the consortium to talk about career pathways and explore areas of study that would interest South Santa Clara County/San Benito County ESL students – and that would lead to some level of advancement in the local workplace. The idea was to develop “stackable” certificates in the selected areas.


The institute resulted in a vision for a new career pathway that included contextualized ESL courses, meaning that basic skills would be taught in context to the career skills that students were learning in career technical education (CTE) classes. As a result, curricula were written in the areas of pre-entrepreneurship, child care and computer applications.

The group also developed a visual to illustrate the divergence of the academic and career pathways, entry and exit points and other learning opportunities students would find along the path. A second visual demonstrated how the three-year plan for services would fit into the academic/career plan.

In short, the team worked together to develop an ESL program that not only taught students English, but it also put them on a path to the workplace and/or additional education by equipping them with skills in select career fields.

The Data

Approximately 25 people attended the institute.

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