How to get your students to pursue their dream jobs

necktieWhat do you want to be when you grow up?

That’s a popular question for students of any age. A first-grader who knows a lot about planes may wish to become a pilot, a junior-higher who starts cooking family meals may consider becoming a chef, and a high school sophomore who volunteers at an animal shelter may decide to pursue veterinary science.

English learners are just as likely to be captivated by the fields that interest their monolingual peers, but they may lack knowledge of the procedures or content that are associated with their desired career. School-to-career tracks sometimes pigeonhole ELs and other minority students into vocational programs, but it may be easier than you think to avoid stereotyping and setting low expectations.

Nathan Hall posted a blog for TESOL, demonstrating that content-based instruction is a natural fit for helping ELs gain familiarity with various career tracks. He reinforced social studies content for students interested in law enforcement, science content for those interested in medicine, introduced aspects of finance to students who wanted to get rich, and worked in lessons on fashion, video games, acting, and more for those with an artistic flair.

Students across the ages have asked “When will I ever use this in the real world?” about school content. By taking the long-term goals of students and connecting them to content, ELs are motivated to learn and can gain an edge at academic language. Dream jobs are within reach, too, since students are getting practical information about the skills that such jobs require. Plus, you’re building rapport with your students by tailoring your teaching in ways that feel relevant to them. Maybe that alone is enough to breed a few teachers of the future.

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