Advancing in any industry can be tough for immigrants in the U.S., due to the many barriers they face in the workplace, including limited language ability.
Stories like Juan Sandoval’s, however, demonstrate how employers can foster growth for their immigrant workers by thoughtfully leveraging internal and external resources to support them. English at Work partners with companies who recognize, celebrate, and are ready to invest in their diverse workforce.
Juan is a 2022 English at Work graduate, who has been working at Food 4 Less, a California-based grocer that is part of the Kroger family of companies, for 19 years. He is currently a Front-End Leader at his store in Calexico, CA. Juan shared that participating in English at Work has helped improve his communication skills both at work and at home. Since Juan serves in a customer service role, he recognizes that speaking English is key to being successful in his job. He has worked very hard for the past several months to hone his English skills. He was deeply committed to this opportunity with a clear goal to improve his job performance and attain a promotion. After having completed the program, Juan felt that his communication skills and his interactions with customers and colleagues improved significantly.
Juan’s favorite aspect of the program was having an opportunity to practice his English without judgment and with aid.
He thoroughly enjoyed his weekly interactions with his instructor and peers in the online classroom. Juan shared that he is continuously looking for the opportunity to practice his English outside of the classroom. Improving his language skills means being more responsive and more proactive in assisting customers, so he puts forward his best effort to continue to strengthen his communication in English.
Juan shared that he had participated in courses at his local community college before, but never had he taken an English course online. He shared that his experience with the course was just as helpful and inclusive as his previous in-person experience. Juan is currently training for a promotion to Assistant Store Leader. He shared with us his gratitude for his employer, Food 4 Less, for providing him with access to the opportunity to practice his English. He highlighted that participating in the English at Work program and other similar training opportunities, along with his employer’s strong support for the past 19 years, have opened a path for him to advance in the company.
When asked about the possibility of participating in future English development opportunities, Juan said, “Why not! The class was very good.”
The National Immigration Forum would like to thank Noel Gomez, Business Engagement and Inclusion Programs intern, for highlighting this story.