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Elsa’s Pursuit of Excellence: Her English at Work Testimonial

Ambition, love, and steadfast determination characterize many immigrant stories, and Elsa Vasquez’s story is no exception.

Elsa came to the United States seven years ago when her daughter, then seventeen years old, decided she wanted to go to school here. Soon after their move from Mexico, Elsa began working in the deli at Bashas’.

Though she knew little English when she came to the US, she realized that she would need to practice to progress at work. She studied English on her own, and her work paid off when she was transferred to work as a cashier, where she had even more interaction with customers.

Elsa said that in her job, English is especially important to providing good customer service because “I can speak more with my customers and understand them more.” When she learned about the English at Work program that Bashas’ was offering, she was excited for the opportunity to improve even more.

Now I am able to help my customers more specifically.

English at Work integrates individual online learning with online live classes, where a teacher facilitates speaking activities using workplace scenarios and teaches new vocabulary commonly used in the industry. Each class is customized to meet the needs of the jobs the participants hold, so the Bashas’ class was geared toward customer service and grocery retail operations. Throughout the class, Elsa thoroughly completed her at-home practice, participated in class discussions, and applied her learning at work each week. She is grateful that the class was so “fitted to the job” and she says, “now  I am able to help my customers more specifically.”

Elsa would like to thank Bashas’ for providing their employees with the opportunity to gain language and digital skills.

She said, “chances like this make the workplace better.” She is also grateful to her instructor, Lynne Lori, for her patience and commitment to their learning. In reflecting on her experience, she appreciated the community-like space of the English at Work classroom, where she felt comfortable practicing, making mistakes, and strengthening her language skills alongside her peers, who shared the same goals. She hopes Bashas’ will continue to offer opportunities and classes like these to their employees.

Elsa prides herself on being available for the store and always being able to cover shifts for her coworkers. She said, “I have never missed a day of work for any reason.” Her dedication to the company is admirable and her commitment to excellence shines through in everything she does.

Looking ahead, Elsa is deeply committed to improving her English even more, so that she can earn a better wage and, hopefully one day, be promoted to manager. Seven years after moving from Mexico to begin their new lives, Elsa’s daughter works in a medical lab and Elsa is working hard every day to build her English skills, provide the best customer experience she can, and advance in her career. We wish you all the best, Elsa. Congratulations on your English at Work graduation!

The National Immigration Forum would like to thank Caroline Zdanowski, Integration Programs intern, for highlighting this story.  

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