Common Ground: Guide to English in the Workplace (Phase 2)

The Common Ground: English in the Workplace resource is designed to support English in the Workplace programming. The how-to guide, training manual and facilitator guide are designed to be a "stand alone" resource that can be used by certified and non-certified English language instructors to deliver English in the Workplace programming.

Alberta employers are increasingly relying on workers born outside of Canada to fill their labor needs. Along with the demographics of an aging population and a low national fertility rate, newcomers will be an increasing part of the Alberta workforce. Employers are encountering challenges related to language, culture, and employee integration. These challenges directly impact workplace safety, productivity, and employee retention rates. Offering English in the Workplace is one way to address language, cultural, and integration challenges in the workplace.

Lessons learned

  1. Important to create a team to champion an English in the Workplace program at the work site. Staff turnover and other changes posed challenges to successful completion of an English in the Workplace program within a company context.
  2. Facilitators with no formal teaching/ESL instruction experience or training were able to successfully use the Common Ground resources to deliver an English in the Workplace program in a company context.
  3. Significant enhancements were made through data collected during the pilot and feedback gathered from the project advisory committee and other stakeholders. The quality of the Common Ground resource increased substantially through the evidence-based resource development process used in Phase 2 of this project.


Common Ground: Facilitator Manual

The guide provides information for English in the Workplace facilitators on how to deliver the EWP curriculum and how to facilitate language and intercultural development for their learners.

Common Ground: How-To Guide for Employers

The resource walks the employer through the process of setting up an English-in-the-Workplace (EWP) program. Assessment tools are given for the employee and the employer to gauge pre- and post-program language skills. The guide will assist employers in the decision to start an EWP program, to build a structure for the program, create content and then deliver the program. The guide provides a holistic, integrated, and inclusive approach to address integration issues as well as language and intercultural challenges.

The guide describes five models for delivery of English Language Training in the Workplace. These cost effective models are tailored to assist the worker born outside of Canada as well as the Canadian-born workers. Choice of models depends on employee, facilitator availability, space availability and company needs. One model may be chosen initially to meet an urgent request, and another selected to address ongoing needs. Models of delivery could be blended to create a "one of a kind" model to fit the company's requirements. In conclusion, the guide gives a practical, step-by-step process to identifying and addressing language needs.

Common Ground: English in the Workplace Training Manual

The training manual includes facilitator notes and learner resources for 10 modules covering the topics of Safety, Pronunciation Clarity, Intercultural Awareness, Idioms, and Conversation Management.

Other project information
Project time frame March 2007 – February 2010
Project team
  • Douglas Parsons
  • Jaimy Miller
  • Cheryl Whitelaw
  • Paul Holmes
Project funder Alberta Employment and Immigration
Key project activities
  • Piloting of Common Ground resources in five communities with five companies.
  • Revision and dissemination of final resources.
Target audience Common Ground: English in the Workplace will benefit Alberta companies who need their employees to develop their English language skills and want to invest in English in the Workplace programming.
Communities participating in project Barrhead, Drayton Valley, Edmonton, Fort Saskatchewan and Wetaskiwin
Number of people involved in project

203 people including:

  • 4 project team members
  • 10 advisory board members
  • 124 Canadian-born employees
  • 48 employees participating in English in the Workplace programs
  • 5 Facilitators
  • 12 managers/HR managers