Kathryn A. Harris
Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in World Languages & Literatures: Spanish and University Honors
World Languages and Literatures
Hispanic Americans -- Employment -- Oregon -- Portland, Fast food restaurants -- Oregon -- Portland -- Management, English language -- Study and teaching, Language in the workplace, Food service employees -- Promotions, Hispanic Americans ǂv Personal narratives, Employer-supported education
This case study illustrates the employment journeys and experiences of three Latinx fast-food industry service workers. Analyses of in-depth interviews reveals while participants share comparable employment histories, they also demonstrate differences in regard to the paths to management they have experienced, and their level of language confidence at work. All participants in this study have been offered and have declined management positions. First, this analysis suggests there is a myriad of reasons besides a lack of English language skills regarding why Latinx fast food restaurant workers may not assume management positions. These reasons include participants lacking the following: time to devote to English language study, desire to change their shift schedule, and adequate compensation for the managerial role. Second, this analysis suggests there may also exist a mismatch between the perception the fast-food worker has of their own language skills, and their manager/supervisor’s perception of their language skills and readiness to assume a managerial position. The mismatch points to a need for more English language education, which has the potential to bolster learner confidence and lessen the gap between employee and manager/supervisor perception of the employee’s language skills. This study argues for employer-sponsored English language classes to support the language learning journey of Latinx employees. In turn, this would benefit the workers in their personal and professional lives, as well as the fast-food restaurants, because the more confident and proficient the employees are in their English language capabilities, the more smoothly the restaurant will operate.
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Lichtenstein-Hershman, Livia Z., "A Present-Situation Analysis and Needs Assessment of Latinx Workers in the Portland Fast-Food Industry: a Study of their Employment Journeys & Job-Related Language Needs" (2019). University Honors Theses. Paper 687.