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Workplace Literacy Opportunity – Deli Clerk Needs Help

I went to Safeway’s deli to order a sandwich the other day. I approached the countertop as the deli clerk said, “May I help you?” She was Hispanic, appeared to be about 30 years old, and had a strong accent. Since I work primarily with adult learners who are non-native English speakers, my deli clerk’s accent was not a challenge for me at all.  I proceeded to order my custom-order sandwich only to find out that the deli clerk did not know the names of meats, cheeses, produce and the variety of breads in English. She was able to carry on a general conversation with me, using language skills she could have learned in a general English as a Second (ESL) language class where the topical lessons are around Life Skills. She, however, lacked the language skills to communicate verbally on something like wheat bread, soft roll, focaccia bread, cheddar cheese, or havarti cheese.  She did not understand statements like “light mayo” or “extra pickles please”.

I felt for her and wished I could stay there long enough to do some workplace literacy vocabulary-building lessons, specially designed to prepare her to do well as a deli clerk. I know there is a real need to provide these types of literacy classes in my community. I can’t help but wonder how long this particular lady will be able to keep her job.  I do know that Workplace Literacy classes can help her succeed.

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  1. January 10, 2012 at 3:39 pm

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