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Publix: Sharing to Succeed — An Instructor’s View

Guest blog post by Yenesis M. Alfonso, MS
Instructor, Miami Dade College

Play foods class

As a Miami Dade College ESL instructor and one of the curriculum designers for Skills and Opportunity for the New American Workforce, I am so proud and delighted to be teaching this unique, contextualized English course. These classes were designed to be both practical and interactive for a wide range of supermarket employees, utilizing retail vocabulary and on-the-job tasks to teach English grammar. I am proud to report that one of my students was recently offered a full-time position after working part-time for the past nine years.

I currently teach four classes at two Publix stores, and we are half way through the course. The students’ motivation to learn is tremendous, and classes are fun and extremely energetic. I’ve created an “Oral Communication Forum Activity” where students bring specific situations that typically transpire in their workday in order to learn to better communicate with customers or co-workers in English. It has opened the door to a lot more oral communication, and students who were initially quite shy are stepping up and feeling more comfortable!

In class, we also simulated a typical store aisle using play foods, a shopping basket and an apron for the employee roles. These activities are a hit because they are fun and allow students to go through scenarios that they typically face in the workplace, allowing them to share and learn how to better handle situations using the English language, while building confidence. Employees are eager to continue this program and there is increased interest among employees who have not participated yet. I am really proud to be a part of this program and deeply motivated by my students’ improvement in English, week-to-week. We all hope that this will become an ongoing program that will put more retail workers on the path to career advancement.

Photo: Publix employees participants engage  in role play to practice their job specific vocabulary and communication skills.

For more student profiles and testimonials on Skills and Opportunity for the New American Workforce, please click here.

Skills and Opportunity for the New American Workforce is a project of the National Immigration Forum, funded by the Walmart Foundation, in partnership with Miami Dade College and the Community College Consortium for Immigrant Education.

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