New Americans Zooming into Employment

13 months ago, I could have told you very little about Zoom. Prior to 2020, I used Zoom maybe a handful of times to join various meetings, but I had no other Zoom skills besides clicking a link and hoping I ended up in the right place. Fast-forward through a global pandemic, and I might consider myself a Zoom expert.

We have all emerged from 2020 with about a bajillion Zoom meetings under our belt. The phenomenal team I teach alongside not only deserves a Masters in Zoomology themselves, but they have all taught our students, some as true beginners to English and technology, to expertly navigate their way through a Zoom class.

Our students in varying levels can join, leave, and rejoin a Zoom Meeting; mute and unmute themselves; turn on and off their cameras; join and ask for help in a breakout room; send messages through chat; put a cute emoji up in the corner; and, most impressively, join their English or citizenship class without being sent an invite. Words like join, download, swipe, mute, audio, video, leave, and breakout room are all now part of their everyday vocabulary.

We knew that Zoom would benefit our students in the obvious ways: they would continue learning English in the safety of their homes, they would see and talk to their teachers and classmates every day, and they would become much more comfortable with technology. One not-so-obvious benefit is that their Zoom proficiency has landed them jobs!

More than once has a current student applied for a job and then were asked to interview over Zoom. Because the students learned Zoom at LSS, they could confidently tell their potential employer that they could use Zoom, and, because the LSS teachers incorporated Zoom etiquette into our lesson plans, the students knew to sit in a quiet place with good lighting and professional camera angles to make that first impression the very best it could be.

And it worked! Those Zoom interviews turned into job offers, and our Zoom-savvy students turned into full-time workers. We couldn’t be more proud of the digital literacy skills our students are learning and demonstrating!

Written by:

Lindy Obach ESL Instructor
LSS Center for New Americans

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