The literacy proficiency of Non-Native-English-Speaking Workers is closely associated with length of employment, wages earned, hours worked, and occupations held.
This report examines survival literacy, which is the prose and quantitative literacy proficiency needed to function safely in an English-speaking environment and compete successfully for self-sustaining employment.... The report concludes that the literacy proficiency of these workers show that literacy is closely associated with length of employment, wages earned, hours worked, and occupations held...The report summarizes the literacy levels of non-native-English- speaking workers and compares them to literacy requirements for a sample from industries where significant numbers of non-native-English- speaking workers are employed—production, services, and construction. (Abstractor: Website Staff)

Major Findings & Recommendations

• New models for teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) and Basic Skills, currently in use, could offer better solutions to teaching survival literacy to non-native-English-speakers. These models incorporate one or more of the following methods: 1) Teaching ESL in the context of a vocational training program, 2) Teaching ESL through the immersion method, and 3) Teaching workplace literacy using a work-based approach. - More non-native-English-speaking adults with low literacy (Below Basic and Basic) failed to complete high school or receive a General Education Development (GED) certificate than native- English-speaking adults with low literacy. • A higher percentage of non-native-English- speaking adults with low literacy (10 percent) earned a college degree or completed graduate studies or a degree program than native-English- speaking adults with low literacy (7 percent ). • Non-native-English speakers (39 percent) with low literacy were less likely to have some computer literacy than their native-English-speaking counterparts (51 percent). • Those with lower prose literacy levels were less likely to participate in Basic Skills training, indicating either a language barrier or the lack of understanding of the connection between prose and quantitative literacy and employment or job training. Interestingly, participation in Basic Skills classes was the same, regardless of literacy level. • Non-native-English-speaking workers with low levels of prose and quantitative literacy are less likely to be employed full time than their more literate counterparts. The same pattern was found among the native- English-speaking workers, as well. This finding is similar to studies of other populations and the effects of literacy on employment. Literacy is clearly a factor in gaining full-time employment. • Literacy is also related to length of employment. • For both native- and non-native-English-speaking workers, increased prose literacy proficiency levels were associated with strong and steady gains in weekly earnings. Similar relationships were found between quantitative literacy and earnings, as well. • On the basis of this sample of occupations (production, services, and construction) [in which there is a high proportion of non-English speakers], non-native-English-speaking workers are employed in industries in which they cannot function safely because they fail to meet the literacy levels common to these occupations. (Abstractor: Website Staff)