ESL Courses Help Janitorial Workers Succeed
Fifty-two cleaning workers, all employees of Brilliant General Maintenance Company of San Jose, California, have recently graduated from English classes conducted by Google staff in classrooms provided by the search engine giant.
The classes are once per week and are part of an ongoing program set up by Brilliant several years ago for its Spanish-speaking cleaning workers
Building Skills Partnership (BSP), a California-based non-profit, oversees the actual training. They instruct the Google staff on how to work with the cleaning workers and what they need to know to teach English as a second language.
"We do have lesson books," said one Google Tutor. "But a lot of what we do is talk for an hour in English and help them with things they encounter in life, like how to sell a car on Craigslist, or help their kids with their homework."
Daniel Montes Jr., Brilliant's CEO, says one of his company's goals with the English classes is to assist his staff in moving on to bigger and better things. "While many do stay on with our business and take supervisory positions, others use the training to start their own business or move on to higher paying jobs."
This "moving on" was even noted in a report about BSP in the New York Times. "With some fluency, a janitor can get off the night shift and onto days; an immigrant can try to pass the citizenship test. Meanwhile, the tutoring provides a sense of purpose and human connection."
Brilliant General Maintenance is one of the only contract cleaning companies in the San Jose area now offering these classes. In addition to learning English, the cleaning workers are also taught basic computer skills so they can become more technologically fluent.
"What we are doing is helping these cleaning workers become better citizens and more successful in the U.S.," adds Montes. "Our family got a lift up like this many years ago, and now we are one of the largest cleaning contractors in Silicon Valley."
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