The following blog post was written by Nadia Khan, a faculty member at the Centre for Excellence in Immigrant and Intercultural Advancement (CEIIA).
ESL literacy learners in my Canadian Language Benchmark 4 (CLB4) class participated in a Skills Fair last fall. The purpose of the fair was to encourage learners to showcase their skills and abilities and demonstrate how these skills could help them achieve their future goals related to settlement and work in Canada.
Preparation through Scaffolded Activities
The learner presentations at the Skills Fair were scaffolded through the use of activities and tasks that included vocabulary building, using digital literacy, and sharing information effectively. Learners first learned about skills and transferable skills by searching for different skills that are required in the workplace, at school, and in daily life. They also learned how these skills can be transferred and used elsewhere. Learners took part in a self-assessment activity on skills they possess and then reflected on this through writing. Learners chose their strongest skill and searched up images, names of tools required (if any) and then typed up all the relevant labels, lists, and headings to create their own posters. This gave them the chance to practice digital literacy. Most of the tasks were skill-building activities that were directly related to the program learning outcomes.
For the actual presentation at the fair, learners used a template that helped them organize their ideas around how they learned the skill, what tools they required, how this skill helped them in life, and how it was related to their future goals. They demonstrated the skill as they shared information about it. Skills displayed by the learners were as follows: cooking, gardening, braiding, using American Sign Language to communicate, fixing leaking pipes, changing brake pads of a car, makeup and nail art, and embroidery and crochet. Four other ESL literacy classes, their teachers, ELL program coordinators, and ELL staff visited the fair.
The two day fair was organized in such a way that half the class presented on one day and the other half helped out with the setup, handing out food samples, and cleaning up afterward. The next day, the remaining learners presented and the rest helped out with everything. This created lasting bonds and fostered teamwork and collaboration.
This initiative was an enriching experience for the learners as it connected the learning in the classroom to the real world.
This initiative was an enriching experience for the learners as it connected the learning in the classroom to the real world. Empowering learners through activities like this and promoting the sharing of transferable skills, while learning and using English, accomplishes many things. It boosts the learners’ confidence to view the skills that they brought with them from their home countries as valuable. Furthermore, it highlights how these skills can be applied to their lives in Canada and helps learners achieve the goals that they have set for themselves.