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Addressing Multilingualism in Construction Workplace Education: Results of a Pilot Experiment


by James Wilkins, Marilyn Alibutod & Anindita Nugroho — 2013

Background: In the United States, foreign-born workers of Hispanic origin have been central to the construction industry for decades. Many of these workers have experienced only limited education in either English or Spanish and most are bilingual to some degree.

Purpose: As employers are beginning to recognise the benefits of providing access to the OSHA 10- and 30-hour Construction Safety Training Course, the industry has begun to experience a downward trend in preventable accidents, illnesses and fatalities. Despite this decline, a detailed review of recently published research indicates that foreign-born workers of Hispanic origin remain nearly 70% more likely to be involved in a work-related incident than their American-born counterparts. In order to develop and provide effective workplace learning programmes it is necessary to assess the impact which these workers’ literacy and confidence in a second language has on their professional capabilities.

Research Design: The authors of the present article examined the problem by utilizing a simple post-test only randomised experimental design to measure knowledge retention among this demographic immediately following the completion of OSHA 10-hour Construction Safety Training Courses when the languages of instruction were English-only, Spanish-only and both English and Spanish.

Conclusions: The data revealed that workers who fall into this category retained more knowledge from the training course when it was taught using a translanguaging approach. This data will be of value to designers of workplace education programmes, who will be better placed to incorporate a bilingual element into their instructional methodologies.



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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 115 Number 1, 2013, p. -
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 17002, Date Accessed: 12/14/2017 7:55:38 AM

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About the Author
  • James Wilkins
    Teachers College, Columbia University
    E-mail Author
    JAMES WILKINS is a workplace training consultant, instructional technology professional, and occupational health and safety researcher at Teachers College, Columbia University.
  • Marilyn Alibutod

    E-mail Author
    MARILYN ALIBUTOD is a bilingualism and bicultural education specialist based in New York City. She has worked with a diverse set of learners from a wide range of linguistic backgrounds and enjoys developing learning programs for second language learners. Her research program began with a pilot study that examined how identifying student orientations of integrative or instrumental motivation could be used to facilitate struggling students in their second language. The study was conducted in a dual-language (English-Spanish) classroom. She presents an extensive academic background in bilingual and bicultural education, elementary education and Spanish.
  • Anindita Nugroho
    Teachers College, Columbia University
    E-mail Author
    ANINDITA NUGROHO is a researcher in education policy and program evaluation. She has worked as a research consultant in five countries and is currently pursuing further graduate studies in economics and education at Teachers College, Columbia University. Her work is focused on quantitative methods and on international development.
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