Career resource guidelines for EAL and CALD Young People

When working with young people from an English as an additional language (EAL) or from a culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) background, educators need to be conscious of the impact cultural differences have on many aspects of the young person’s life.

In designing a career education program it is important to reflect cultural diversity within the program, along with other strategies to cater for student differences. You can:

  • acquire knowledge about student’s cultural diversity
  • apply this knowledge in the teaching and advising context
  • use intercultural communication skills when dealing with students, colleagues, parents and employers.

In the careers area, there is a lot of content specific language. Young people from EAL and CALD backgrounds may need extra assistance in understanding the language associated with interest and aptitude inventories, job advertisements and applications forms (both hardcopy and online), references and safe work practices.

Young refugees

Young refugees may have additional concerns relating to their circumstances in leaving their country. They may have experienced:

  • violence, persecution or oppression
  • death of family and friends
  • interrupted or no schooling
  • leaving their country at short notice under adverse conditions
  • inability to return home
  • uncertainty about maintaining links with home and family
  • other negative life experiences.

You need to understand and be sensitive to these experiences and the impact it will have. Other young people may also have had refugee like experiences even though they do not have refugee status.

Self awareness lessons

Students will vary in how comfortable they are revealing things about themselves to other people. Young people who have been in the Australian education system, will have experienced learning which focuses on revealing aspects of themselves.

An additional introductory lesson for EAL and CALD students is Getting to know you (doc - 494kb). The aim is for students to gain insight into themselves and other EAL learners in their class group, and see the relevance of these activities to the career development process. It will help them to work with each other in the career development activities that follow.

Many of these lessons focus on the individual, which is an important part of the career development process. In other cultures, however, the focus can be on the group – family, extended family, community or the State.

Work values can be strongly influenced by culture. Money, status and prestige may preclude young people from considering all the options available to them in Australia. Use the My values (doc - 554kb) lesson to explore these issues and develop understanding of the broad range of values that can be important.

Some cards in the How others see me (doc - 1.15mb) lesson may not be appropriate to use with young people who have migrated from countries that are in conflict e.g. 'most likely to be a spy' or 'most likely to be in the military'. Depending on your group, be selective in the cards you use.

If students have difficulty with activities in these lessons, spend more time reflecting on the purpose of the unit (see the purpose and rationale sections of the teacher’s notes). Comparative discussions drawing on the cultures of those in the class could be useful.

Opportunity awareness lessons

Young people from all cultural backgrounds should be aware of the myriad of options and pathways available to them in Australia. Activities in these lessons are designed to achieve this. Cultural stereotypes may inhibit young people from considering the full range of options available to them. Breaking down these barriers to allow consideration of all options should be handled sensitively.

An extra lesson - Equal opportunity and gender equity (doc - 522kb) is designed to help ESL learners explore gender equity issues and understand Australian laws concerning antidiscrimination and the impact of these on Australian workplaces. EAL students should understand that in Australia, all jobs are available to and can be done equally well by women and men.

In their careers research, EAL students may need to practice asking questions of others to get information, for example in the Careers expos/markets lessons (pdf - 87.58kb), students could practise the questions in the student expo preparation worksheet.

Depending on the level of knowledge about the world of work, more time may be needed:

  • developing understanding of job titles and personal and training requirements; and
  • preparing for work experience in relation to employee and employer rights and responsibilities, standards of behaviour in the workplace – including expectations of employers - and the language of the workplace
  • good preparation will help reduce anxiety and uncertainty in unfamiliar work environments and lead to more successful and worthwhile experiences.

Decision learning lessons

The person responsible for making decisions can be culturally determined. In some cultures parents and relatives will have a big impact on the decisions of the young person and may even make decisions on their behalf. The first two lessons in this section have most relevance to this.

The first lesson - Making decisions (doc - 530.5kb) - will highlight who is important in the young person’s decision making. In Activity 4, students complete a birth to death lifeline, identifying important decision points and who makes the decisions at these times.

The scenarios in What should I do? (doc - 491.5kb) - may also bring out these issues. Other scenarios could be written highlighting issues that EAL and CALD students may meet in terms of family involvement in decision making.

These lessons are written from the perspective that young people may seek help from others in the decision making process, but ultimately the decision is their own. Be aware that this may not be the case for all young people.

Transition planning lessons

The language of the workplace can be very different from that experienced at home, and it is important for young people to learn about these differences and what is acceptable.

For the safety of students and their supervisors, it is essential that safe work practices are understood and followed. Before students do learning experiences in a work place, they need to be adequately prepared. They need to have sufficient competence in English to be safe in the workplace and not afraid to ask questions. They should have completed the safe@work activities – both the general and the relevant industry specific modules. Depending on the student’s level of English, you will need to spend considerable time developing understanding of the vocabulary in the safe@work modules.

A job well done includes teacher resources and video, designed for students with disabilities. It is explained in plain English and some of this resource may be useful in expanding EAL and CALD students' understanding of safety issue in the workplace.

When working with students from culturally diverse backgrounds, explore all aspects of the skills required in finding, applying and trying to win jobs.

Job advertisements often have their own terminology and abbreviations. This includes both general terminology (e.g. ‘p-t’ – part time, ‘f-t’ – full time, ‘exp’ – experience, $35k - $35000) and job specific abbreviations (e.g. different types of licences for driving jobs – HR, HC, MC) which need to be understood. The interpretation of the sometimes hidden meaning of job advertisements can require a high level of linguistic understanding. Students should be wary of jobs that:

  • are advertised regularly
  • offer work from home for high remuneration
  • may involve personal outlays of funds (that can take considerable time to recoup)
  • salaries are unclear or particularly high
  • have no name or address for the company
  • require no experience but offer high pay.

Students need to be cautious and may need help in interpreting the underlying implications of job advertisements.

Job applications and resumes also have a language style that requires considerable explanation and practice.

Job interviews have the additional consideration of non verbal communication. Certain criteria are deemed to be appropriate to particular organisations or occupations. For example, it would be appropriate to wear jeans or overalls when applying for a labouring job, but not when applying for an office job.

In interviews nonverbal aspects can be important, such as the appropriate position of hands, feet and legs, direct eye contact, firm handshakes, upright posture, smiling and nodding appropriately, following cues about the use of time and space in the interview, and dressing appropriately. Communication skills come to the fore in interview situations.

Career counselling

Be sensitive to the cultural background and experiences of the students and the impact this will have on their career development. If possible invite parents (or other important relatives) to attend counselling sessions with individual students.

For more information see: