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The Power of Communication: English Training in the Manufacturing Sector

English at Work has recently partnered with the Hilmar Cheese Company to offer English instruction to their manufacturing employees in Dalhart, Texas.

This course was delivered in person by instructor Danielle Stegall with Frank Phillips College, an accredited institution with a long history of serving the region’s workforce. According to Stegall, “This curriculum has provided students not only interactive lessons but also practical application of English vocabulary pertaining to their employment at Hilmar Cheese.” These employees have been working at the Dalhart cheese processing plant for varying amounts of time but took advantage of this opportunity in order to improve their English skills, with the goal of performing their jobs better, obtaining a promotion, and furthering their career growth.  Wendy, who has been with Hilmar for over 8 years, stated  “I want to improve my English, I want to get a better position at Hilmar.” Lito, who has only been working at Hilmar for 4 months, described his experience, “When I started working my biggest problem was language, so the company helped me and other workers to take English course at the FPC (Frank Phillips College).”

The English at Work training is a blended model of weekly in-person (or online) classes and online, digital modules that can be completed from cell phones, tablets, or computers. It offers manufacturing and food processing-specific language learning and builds skills and competencies that are applicable to participants’ jobs.

Student speaking into walkie-talkie“The students have had several opportunities to practice workplace English using walkie-talkies, which adds another dynamic to our communication skillset,” Stegall shares, “Many of the Hilmar workers use walkie-talkies on a daily basis. Some students have indicated that some pronunciation can be hard to understand over the radio system. The practical application in class has given them confidence in their English communication at work.”

Learners share the same sentiment and desire to share these opportunities with some of their coworkers. Yaneth described how important the English classes were “because it’s focused on the work and everything about the work and it is very good… We have a lot of material to learn in this class.”

All participants expressed their gratitude for building useful industry-specific skills. Wendy notes specific ways her English has improved, among which: “I have been getting better with my pronunciation.” Lito also describes that “This class is helping me to improve my communication with my coworkers and my supervisors and I enjoy this class very much.”  Yaneth shared that the class was excellent and surpassed her expectations. 

When asked if they recommend the class, Lito states without hesitation: “I recommend this class for everybody who wants to learn English, not only for work, for everything we need to do here.” Danielle Stegall also praises the program and states “I am truly blessed to be a part of this program and it is so exciting to watch the students’ progress and confidence build each week.”  

Students sitting around a table in a classroom

English at Work continues to expand its curriculum offerings. We look forward to leveraging our relationships with forward-thinking corporations in diverse industries and partnering with colleges and adult educators throughout the country to support the immigrant workforce. If you would like to learn more about English at Work, please contact Ana Negoescu, Assistant Vice President of Integration Programs at .


The National Immigration Forum would like to thank Amanda Hardy, Integration Programs intern, for highlighting this story, and Frank Phillips College for capturing participant  testimonials and photos. 

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