article available: Bridging Canadian Adult Second Language Education and Essential Skills Policies

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Thu Jul 10 17:26:06 UTC 2008

This version was published on August 1, 2008
Adult Education Quarterly, Vol. 58, No. 4, 318-334 (2008)
DOI: 10.1177/0741713608318893
(c) 2008 American Association for Adult and Continuing Education

Bridging Canadian Adult Second Language Education and Essential Skills Policies
Approach With Caution
Tara L. Gibb
University of British Columbia, taragibb at

Employing critical discourse analysis (CDA), this paper examines the
attempt to bridge a Canadian adult second language policy with an
employment skills policy. The result is a third policy intended to
improve language education and employment skills training for
immigrants. The analysis reveals that the knowledge economy and human
capital theory are the predominant discourses embedded in the policy
documents. The paper argues that predominant discourses perpetuate
power imbalances and essentialize worker and migrant subjectivities.
Engaging in postcolonial theories of second language learning, the
paper proposes another way of conceiving adult second language
learning and its potential for policy development.

Key Words: adult education policy • postcolonial theory • critical
discourse analysis • second language and workplace learning • human
capital theory • knowledge economy
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