Spanish Learning Scenario:
Exploring the Bilingual Job Market

Author: Aurora Hansis & Teresa Tattersall
Level: Advanced

In this unit, students investigate employment positions requiring knowledge of a second language, Spanish in particular. They learn how to fill out a job application, write a resumé, and interview in Spanish. Written “products” are collected in a portfolio and turned in at the end of the unit. Students do research about jobs that require the ability to use Spanish and look into the economic benefit of being bilingual; they roleplay job interviews. Students also recognize that cultural practices differ from country to country with regards to getting a job.

ACTIVITY SET 1: Exploring the Bilingual Job Market
To introduce the topic of the scenario, students work with a partner to list as many jobs as possible in two minutes. These lists are compiled on the chalkboard so that the class members can identify together appropriate categories and group all responses accordingly. When the categorization task is complete, students speculate about which jobs require knowledge of a second language and for which jobs such knowledge would be beneficial (if not “required”).

Next, students work in groups to learn more about the potential employment benefits of knowing another language. They may go to a local career center on their campus, at a local university, or in the community; or they may conduct on-line research to find out what kinds of jobs require a second language and whether or not second language fluency affects salary level. Groups create a visual illustrating their findings, which they present to classmates.

Following students’ initial investigation into the advantages in the job market of knowing another language, students are asked to find actual employment opportunities where knowledge of a second language is needed. They look at classified ads, both print and Internet, and bring copies of them to class to post on a bulletin board. Students choose jobs from among these classified ads to use in the learning activities that follow.

ACTIVITY SET 2: Comparing Job-Seeking in Spanish and English
In this activity set, students learn about business etiquette and polite expressions used to make phone calls to request a job application. They compare the expressions/customs in American and in Hispanic cultures. Formulaic language for these phone calls is provided by the teacher or the textbook; students practice role-playing the phone calls until they can use the expressions fluently.

Next, students download Spanish-language job applications from the Internet (see Resources) that they compare with ones they have completed in English in the past. Important cultural information is gleaned from comparing the documents, so before completing an application, students are first asked to look them over and note requests for information that seem unusual to them. They observe, for example, that the applications in Spanish ask about marital status, maternal and paternal names, who the applicant lives with, and (most importantly!) what languages other than Spanish have been mastered. Based on their responses, the class reflects on and hypothesizes about the perspectives implicit in the details they have noted.

ACTIVITY SET 3: Developing a Resumé
After requesting and completing a job application, students work on developing a resumé in Spanish (curriculum vitae) to accompany that application. They bring in their own resumé in English if they have one (or use a “sample” one) and compare it to sample resumés in Spanish that are found on the Internet (see Resources). After examining many examples of resumés in Spanish, students develop a new resumé for themselves in Spanish, sharing with their classmates and getting feedback. They find examples of business letters in Spanish and, incorporating the formulaic language they find there, write a short business cover letter to send along with their application and resumé.

ACTIVITY SET 4: Job Interviews
Students choose one of the jobs from Activity Set 1 and, with a partner, prepare to apply for the job in a mock interview. To begin, they read about business etiquette and customs in a variety of cultures (see especially http://www.econ.state.or.us/oregontrade/). The teacher introduces common vocabulary and expressions used in interviewing and the students practice as pairs, taking turns playing the employer and the applicant. Students present their roleplays in class or turn in a videotaped interview on the due date.

ACTIVITY SET 5: Job Fair
As a culminating activity, the class holds a mock job fair. Each student has a role to play, either as an employer or as a job applicant. Students playing employers are responsible for preparing their booths with the necessary materials to advertise their company—perhaps a company brochure, business cards, job descriptions, etc. Students who are job applicants use their resumés and also prepare a “speech” to sell their strong points to potential employers. Students are also expected to ask a number of questions of the employers. If Spanish-speaking business persons from the community are available and willing, invite them to attend the job fair and conduct mock interviews with the students. After the job fair, all students prepare and turn in a portfolio with a copy of their written work: a letter requesting an application, a completed application, their resumé, a cover letter, and a video-taped interview, if applicable.

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Targeted Standards

  • Communication: Interpersonal, Interpretative, & Presentational Modes
  • Cultures: Practices & Perspectives, Products & Perspectives
  • Connections: Access to Information, Other Subject Areas
  • Comparisons: Nature of Language, Concept of Culture
  • Communities: Within & Beyond the School Setting, Personal Enrichment & Career Development

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Materials

  • Classified advertisements in newspapers in English and Spanish
  • Computer with Internet access and job-search sites in English and Spanish
  • Books on resumés, business letters and interviewing in English and Spanish
  • Copies of job applications in English and Spanish
  • Video camera and tape, cassette recorder and tape

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Reflections on How the Standards Are Met

Communication: Students use the interpersonal mode in the mock interviews and job fair. The interpretive mode is used as they read ads, listen to presentations and interview. The presentational mode is used as they share research findings with classmates.

Culture
: Students learn about cultural products (classified ads, resumes, applications, etc.) and practices (making phone requests, interviewing). They better understand target culture perspectives as they recognize the cultural variations in seeking and interviewing for a job.

Connections
: Students access information in Spanish by viewing authentic materials such as classified ads, applications, and resumés. They connect to the disciplines of business and economics.

Comparisons
: Students demonstrate an understanding of the nature of language and the concept of culture as they make comparisons of American and Hispanic customs related to applying for a job.

Communities
: Students use Spanish within and beyond the school as they interact with Spanish-speaking guests who visit the job fair to conduct interviews.

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Expansion Ideas

  • Invite a speaker who uses a second language as a part of their job to speak to the class.
  • Students create an advertisement for a job in English and in Spanish.
  • Students e-mail a “partner” class in a Spanish-speaking country to ask about appropriate dress and grooming for a job interview.

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Resources

Books

Graber, S. (2000). The everything resumé book. Holbrook, MA: Adams Media.

Kennedy, J. L. (2000). Cover letters for dummies. Indianapolis, IN: IDG Books.]

Poe, R. W. (1994). The McGraw-Hill handbook of business letters. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Tullier, M. (1999). The unofficial guide to acting the interview. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Webliography

NOTE: These Internet resources may have changed since publication or no longer be available. Active links should be carefully screened before recommending to students.

Job Search

Classified Ads

Spanish Resumé


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