Competency-based assessment, employment and immigrant background: an exploratory investigation of adult language learners in Australia.
Prior research investigating the relationships between immigrants’ linguistic abilities in the target language of the host country and their settlement experiences has done so largely from the perspective of language proficiency. Instead of language proficiency per se, we investigated this relationship from the perspective of a competency-based measure. The Certificate in Spoken and Written English (CSWE) is one such competencybased measure currently used in the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) in Australia. We conducted an investigation to explore the strength of the relationships between CSWE level, employment and immigrant background (as socio-biographical information). Data were collected from 46 newly arrived adult immigrants enrolled in the AMEP over a 16-month period. The findings indicated that the use of a competencybased curriculum facilitated immigrants’ attainment of employment but only when they first arrived in Australia. Over time the outcomes of a competency-based curriculum became less relevant to immigrant employability. At the later stages of residency, socio-biographical factors, such as immigrants’ home country and educational experience, became strongly related to their ability to attain a job with little or no effect of competency-based curriculum.