Setting Goals


Setting Goals

Learning Objective

To help students understand what a goal is and the criteria for a SMART goal

Materials Needed

Handouts: “About Setting Goals,” “Setting SMART Goals,” and “SMART Goal Worksheet”


goal, criteria, specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timely


Thinking Skills: Reasoning ; Seeing things in the mind’s eye

Information: Interprets and communicates information

Instructions for Conducting the Activity

In the class as a whole, students read and discuss the “About Goal Setting” handout.

Write three goals on the board, one short-term, one long-term, and one more general. For example:

  • “I want to score 95% on my next English test.”
  • “I want to complete my class here and go to the community college.”
  • “I want to make a better life in the United States.”

Ask the students to identify which are short-term goals and which are long-term goals.

Then distribute the “Setting SMART Goals” handout. Review the vocabulary as needed with the students. Then using the first goal, “I want to score a 95% on my next English test,” review the SMART criteria to establish whether or not it is a SMART goal. Do the same with the other two examples. Have students explain why the first two goals meet the SMART criteria and why the last one does not.

Ask students to reflect back on the goals they set for themselves in the classroom and to write at least two of them down. Then in small groups, students discuss the classroom goals, and help each other evaluate those goals – are they SMART ?

For the ones that are not, ask students to write them again to make them into SMART goals.

Have students revisit these written goals to develop a Career and Education Planning Worksheet.

Extension Activities

  1. Have students write a long-term goal and then break it down into 4–5 short-term goals.
  2. Have students write about a goal they had set for themselves and met in the past. How did they go about achieving the goal? Was the goal SMART ?

Adapted from “Getting There: A Curriculum for People Moving into Employment,” The Center for Literacy Studies, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, 1996 and from Office Arrow at

About Setting Goals

What is a goal?

  • A goal is something we set for ourselves.
  • A goal is something we aim for.
  • A goal is important for achieving success.
  • A goal can help us measure our progress, to see if what we are doing is moving us closer to or further from our ultimate ambition.
  • A goal can be small: “I will wash my car Saturday morning.”
  • A goal can be big: “I will become a nurse in the next three years.”
  • The big goals can be broken up into smaller ones:

o “I will increase my English by one level by the fall.”

o “I will pass my GED test by this summer.”

o “I will enroll in a CNA program by next spring.”

Tips to help you set goals:

  • Keep it simple – just a few sentences for each goal will be plenty.
  • Write your goals down! “The discipline of writing something down is the first step toward making it happen.” (Lee Iacocca)
  • Make a commitment to review your goals regularly.
  • Allow your goals to reflect your values. Let your sense of “inner purpose” guide you.
  • Visualize achieving your goal. See it, taste it, smell it. Feel your goal before it happens.
  • Use motivating, positive language.
  • Make your goals emotional. Use words that have an impact on you – energizing, compelling, Inspiring words.
  • Share your goals with others and ask for their support.
  • Reward yourself along the way. Even small achievements deserve recognition.
  • Create goals for different increments of time (one week, one month, three months, one year, five years, ten years, etc.).
  • Make sure your goals are yours – not just what others expect of you.
  • Be sure to track your progress along the way.

Setting goals is an ongoing process

  • You need to practice setting goals to learn how and to get better at it.
  • Keep reviewing your goals and the steps you’re taking to reach them.
  • Are your actions moving you closer towards your goal or further from it?
  • If your actions aren’t moving you closer towards your goal you need to look again at the goal you’ve set and the steps you need to take to get there.


Tips written by Chrissy Scivicque. Reprinted with permission from Office Arrow at 2_id/78/p142_dis/3.



Continue reading “Setting Goals”

Using the Internet to Learn About Occupations


Using the Internet to Learn About Occupations

Learning Objective

To help students become familiar with how to find occupational information on the Internet and to know what type of information is helpful in comparing occupational choices

Materials Needed

Handouts: “Career Exploration on the Internet” Versions A, B, or C


websites, Internet, licensure, certification


Basic Skills: Reading

Technology: Applies technology to task

Thinking: Seeing things in the mind’s eye

Instructions for Conducting the Activity

This activity can be conducted by having them write down 2–4 occupations they are interested in learning more about and use that list as the basis for the Internet search.

Websites for career exploration:

We highly recommended that you review each of the websites listed above to determine which site provides information in the most accessible manner for the students’ language level and familiarity with the Internet. There are three versions of the “Career Exploration on the Internet” handout.

Version A: Pre-GED/GED students

Version B: ESOL students

Version C: College Transition students

Choose the version that best meets students’ needs.

Day of Activity:

Students can do this activity in pairs or by themselves depending on their familiarity with the computer and the Internet.

Tell students that they will be learning more about the occupations they each identified through the CDM. Ask them to choose at least two occupations to research on the Internet. Select and distribute a version of the handout “Career Exploration on the Internet” that is appropriate for your students. Explain that these are common questions that people have when researching occupations. These questions are just a guide. The students should add other questions that are important to them. Review the handout with the students to make sure that everyone understands the questions.

Brainstorm other questions the students might want to have answered.

You can then model how to look for the information on the website that you have chosen ahead of time. Choose an occupation not listed by the students and walk the students through the “Career Exploration on the Internet” on how to find the information.

Note for ESOL classes: We recommend that you select two occupations to use as examples. Using the “Career Exploration on the Internet” handout, one occupation can be completed by you before the lesson. Then to introduce the lesson to the class, the teacher can take the students through the information gathering process using the completed sample handout.

Next, as a class, the students can look for and fill in the information on the second occupation. After this, the students will be better prepared to research information on their own. Then have students log onto the website and find information about their occupations. If possible, have students print out information for review later.

Note for College Transition classes: These students may have already chosen a career and educational pathway. Version C of the “Career Exploration on the Internet” handout allows them to focus on one occupation and educational pathway in more depth.

Extension Activity

This activity can be expanded upon in a follow-up lesson to help students compare the amount of education needed and the expected wage for different occupations. This will encourage students to begin to think realistically about whether a career path is right for them or not.

Have students bring their completed “Career Exploration on the Internet” handouts to class. Post four large sheets of paper around the room with the labels: “High School or GED,” “Certificate Program or Associates Degree,” “Bachelor’s Degree,” and “Graduate Degree.” Ask students to list their career choices under one of the four sheets based on education needed.

Ask them to also mark the wage of the career choice next to it.

Facilitate a discussion based on the following questions:

  • Were they surprised by how much or how little education was needed for some jobs? Which ones and why?
  • Were they surprised by how much or how little the wage was for some jobs? Which ones and why?
  • Is there a relationship between how much education/training a job requires and the wage of the job?

• Why do some jobs require a BA degree but pay less than a job requiring an AA degree ? 







Identifying Job Values


Identifying Job Values

Learning Objective

To help students identify what job values are and their importance in choosing a career

Materials Needed

Handouts: “Job Values Inventory” and “Work Values Clarification”


Values, rank or prioritize, compatible, benefits, salary, job security, working conditions,

Environment, organization, promotion/advancement, prestige, respect, value system


Basic skills: Speaking

Thinking skills: Decision making

Information: Acquires and evaluates information

Instructions for Conducting the Activity

Explain to students that as part of the career awareness process, they have had an opportunity to identify skills they have.

Another step in the career awareness process is identifying what they value in a job. Their personal value system – the things in life they find most important that influence and direct their lives – contributes to their job selection.

Group brainstorm:

Ask students to name things that are important to them in a job. Record the list on the board. Ask students to say why the things are important to them.

Guiding questions include:

  • What is more important to you – a good salary or work hours that meet your needs?
  • Is it important to you to move up or advance in your job?
  • Does it matter where your work is located? In your neighborhood ? Accessible by public transportation ? Not more than a one-hour commute?
  • How important is it that you get along with your coworkers ? Supervisors ?   Customers ?
  • Do you need health benefits? Insurance ?
  • Do you want a job that will last for a long time? One that is not likely to have lay-offs?
  • If there are students who are employed, ask them if their values are different today than when they first started working? For instance, was money the #1 value to begin with and now is it health benefits?

After the students have discussed this, distribute the “Job Values Inventory” handout. Review the checklist and what each item means. Relate the items back to the list they developed on the board.

In class, or for homework, ask each student to rank the items from 1 to 12 with 1 being most important and 12 the least important. Have them bring it to class the next day for another job values lesson.

Extension Activity

This work values clarification activity helps students look at the influences on their own values. Explain that a value is an idea or thing that we believe is important and will benefit our life. We learn values when we are young children and gradually expand and apply them to our lives as we get older.

Distribute the “Work Values Clarification” handout and have students answer the questions on their own. Then either compile a group list on the board or have students pair up to share their answers.

From “Personal Management: An Integrated Curriculum,” Patti McLaughlin, Curriculum Developer, Adult Basic and Literacy Educators Network of Washington, 1993



Note: This exercise can be done on your own without being in a classroom setting.



Integrating Career Awareness into the ABE & ESOL Classroom | Section II, Lesson 10: Identifying Job Values |




How Do People Get Jobs ?

You 're hired ! - Job and Business Concept

Looking at How We Get Jobs

Learning Objective

To identify and explore student’s awareness of self and culture in relation to career exploration

Handout: “How People Get Jobs”


Culture, career exploration, want ads, interviews, college, university, word-of-mouth, job application, resume, skills, training


Systems: Understands systems

Information: Interprets and communicates information

Basic Skills: Listening

Instructions for Conducting the Activity

Tell students they are going to learn more about each other and themselves by looking at the different types of jobs people have had in their home country or the US.

Spread around the Language Builder Occupation Cards and ask students to identify 2–3 jobs that friends and family had/have in their home country or in the US.

Getting a job

How do people get jobs in your home country and/or in the US?

  • Is it by word-of-mouth?
  • Referrals by relatives or friends?
  • Apply through the paper? Apply online?
  • Does the government tell you what job you can have?
  • Do you have to fill out an application? Do you need a resume?
  • Do you have to have an interview?

Education and Training

What kind of education or training (if any) is needed for these jobs?

  • Do you have to be a high school graduate?
  • Do you need education beyond high school? How much?
  • Do you have to have a certificate or degree?

Wrap up this discussion by pointing out the differences and similarities of answers for different countries. Emphasize that the students come with unique experiences and understandings of how people get jobs.

Extension Activities

  1. In an ESOL class, you can ask students what they know about how people in the US get the same type of jobs, the education and training needed, and how to access the education and training. This can be a way to identify gaps or misperceptions in students’ knowledge of how the US labor market works. Other lessons can then be planned around these gaps.
  2. Distribute the survey, “How People Get Jobs” and ask students to interview 5–9 people about how they got their job and to record the information by putting check marks in the boxes. If the group is hesitant about interviewing, the teacher can role-play an interview. The homework activity below helps students, both ESOL and ABE, identify how people get jobs in the US.
  3. As a follow-up to the homework, have students report back on what they learned in their interviews as to the ways people got jobs and then combine the information to make a list of all the ways people reported getting a job and noting how many reported each. Discuss things from the list the participants can use to help get a job, for instance, filing an application and then calling to check on it; and which might only be available to a few people, like knowing about a position from a family member.



Based on an activity from “Personal Management: An Integrated Curriculum,” Patti McLaughlin, Curriculum Developer,

Adult Basic and Literacy Educators Network of Washington, 1993.


Things I Have Done


Things I Have Done

Learning Objective

To help students identify transferable skills

Materials Needed

Handouts: “Things I Have Done” and “Student Future Timeline”


influence, timeline, career


Thinking Skills: Reasoning; Creative thinking

Instructions for Conducting the Activity

Distribute the “Things I Have Done” handout. Review the checklist as a group, and then ask students to identify what things on the list they did in order to begin attending English or GED class. Using the handout as a guide, ask them to identify 4–5 “Things I Have Done” that relate to the new event.

Then return to the “Things I Have Done” handout and ask them to write on a post-it note a list of some of the skills they can use to reach their future “hopes, dreams, or plans.”

The students can complete the worksheet “Student Future Timeline” the following day to reinforce this lesson.

Extension Activity

Ask each student to choose one event to “tell a story” about the event each chose. The Telling student describes what the event was and what s/he did to make the event happen or as a result of the event. The Listening student writes down a list of steps taken by the student. Then together the two students review the steps written down and identify the skills used to do each step. The students can refer to the skills listed in the “Things I Have Done” handout.

The students then come back together as a large group. Ask each student to complete the “Future Timeline.” Then ask each student to name out loud one of his/her future employment goals/events. Finally, ask the student which skills identified in the pairs activity can be used to help accomplish the goal or get to the event.


Note: This module, as well as all the others, can be done alone. No need to be part of a classroom.


Identifying Your Skills


Identifying Your Skills

Learning Objective

To help students learn about skill categories and to identify their own skills

Materials Needed

handout: ”Skills Identification”


communication, self-management, management, technical


Interpersonal: Participates as a member of a team

Thinking Skills: Problem solving

Information: Organizes and maintains information

Instructions for Conducting the Activity

Explain that knowing what skills are and being able to identify one’s own skills is essential for deciding on a career choice or finding a new career.   Here are the seven categories of skills:

  • Communication skills
  • Number skills
  • Technical skills
  • Business skills
  • Management and Self-Management skills
  • Creative/Artistic skills
  • People skills

Review the categories and the skills in each. Ask students to name some jobs that they think require the skills in the different categories.

Extension Activity

Distribute the “Skills Identification” handout to students and ask students to check those skills they believe they have.

Have a group discussion using the following questions:

  • Do you have skills in more than one area?
  • In which category do you have the most skills?
  • What are the skills needed for the jobs that you are interested in?
  • Do the skills you have match the skills needed for those jobs?
  • Are there some skills that you would like to have but don’t have right now?
  • What education and/or training might you need to develop those skills?




Integrating Career Awareness into the ABE & ESOL Classroom








Introduction to Goal Setting


Introduction to Goal Setting

Learning Objective

To help students begin to understand the importance of setting goals to reach their dreams


road map, motivational


Basic Skills: Listening; Writing

Information: Interprets and communicates information

Instructions for Conducting the Activity

Brainstorm with students the different words we use to talk about what we want to do in the future such as:

• dreams

• hopes

• wishes

• wants

• goals

• aspirations

Provide students with copies of the handout: “Student Goal Scenarios”.  Choose some scenarios to read aloud in class while students read along. Have students look at the goal scenarios, individually or in pairs, and answer this question about each scenario: “what are the writer’s goals for this year?”

Students can break out each of the goals and record them on a worksheet.  Then ask students to write down short answers to the following questions:

• What were some dreams or hopes that I had for my life when I was a child?

• What hopes or dreams did I have about my career when I was younger?

• What hopes or dreams do I have for my life now?

• What hopes or dreams do I have for my career now?

• What do I need to do to reach my dreams?

• Where do I see myself in five years?

Students can share their answers in pairs or in a large group.

Then, as a class, brainstorm reasons why it is important to have goals. Some answers might include:

• something to work toward

• need a road map

• motivational

• need something concrete

Explain that when we can see clearly what our goals are, then it is more likely that we will achieve them. You need to start with a goal in mind. Having a plan helps you to get to where you want to go. It is important to remember that goals are not set in stone. Goals may change over time as we change.

Extension Activity

Have students practice writing goals through journals or prompts. Use a selection of those goals to illustrate the process of setting realistic goals and to inspire other students to write their own goals.

Student Goal Scenarios

1. Farouk moved here from Pakistan two years ago. His English is so-so. He has a good job and he saved some money. He doesn’t want to live in an apartment anymore. He is thinking about buying a house but he doesn’t understand the financial systems in the United States very well.  He also doesn’t understand the culture of Americans so he doesn’t have many friends. What are his goals for this year?

2. Min Wei is from China. She is at school to learn English. She is 65 years old and she went to the doctor. She is not healthy right now. She smokes because she is very stressed about her new life in the United States. She is also very lonely in the United States. She needs to meet friends and find a place to go for recreation. Her friend goes to the library but Min doesn’t have a library card. She knows some people go to community events but she is shy and afraid.  What are her goals this year?

3. Luis moved here from the Dominican Republic five years ago. He speaks English but wants to learn more. He works now, but he doesn’t make much money. He needs to find a new job. He knows he could get a better job if he used computers, but he doesn’t know about computers.  Luis knows that he can be a citizen of the United States now because he has lived here for five years. What are his goals this year?

4. Blanca is from Ecuador. She moved here a year ago. She is studying English. She has two kids, and they are in elementary school. They need help with homework, but she isn’t sure she is smart enough to help them. She didn’t finish high school so she doesn’t have a diploma or GED. She wants to get her GED. She is also tired of taking the bus to pick up her children and she has a car but not a license. What are her goals for this year?

5. Nubar has many goals for the future. Some of his goals will take a long time, even if he works hard. He will study every day to get his GED. In about three years, he wants to start college to become a computer technician someday. He and his girlfriend want to get married and have children sometime in the future. He will need a good job so he can help his family. What are his goals for this year?


Adapted and used with permission from the Lawrence Public Schools Adult Learning Center

Integrating Career Awareness into the ABE & ESOL Classroom



The Career Planning Process


The Career Planning Process

Learning Objective

To understand what the career planning process is and that it can facilitate the attainment of educational and career goals


laid-off, job security, career, job


Basic Skills: Listening; Speaking

Thinking: Seeing things in the mind’s eye

Brainstorm the answers to the following questions:

How many times will most people (in the US) change jobs in their lifetime?

  • 25 times

Can workers in the U.S. today get laid-off through no fault of their own?

  • Yes

Is there job security today?

  • Not necessarily, but there are steps you can take that lead to more job security, like continuing to learn new skills.

What do employers look at when deciding to hire new employees?

  • Skills and experience

Because of all these factors, career planning is an important life skill and it helps students identify the education needed to reach their career goals.

To help students understand the difference between a job and a career, brainstorm what they think is meant by both.

Record answers on the board. Summarize the definitions as:

Job = the work position that you have at any point in time

Career = the path of your jobs over time

Point out that the goal is to think about your career and not just the next job. Students can do this by creating a map of where they are going.

Some examples of careers are:

  1. Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) – Surgical Technologist – Nurse

The career path is in the health care field.

  1. Secretary – Administrative Assistant – Manager

This career path could be within many different fields.

  1. Teacher – Social Worker – Consultant

This career path focuses on jobs that use similar skills but in different fields.

Next ask students to brainstorm what they think is meant by career planning. Write these on the board. Then, using students’ ideas, summarize with the following points:

What is career planning?

  • Identifying what you are good at
  • H ow your skills, talents, values, and interests translate into work
  • Matching your skills, etc., to existing jobs
  • Matching your career goal to your financial needs
  • It is a process
  • Need it to make good decisions
  • By doing career planning you can find good answers that meet your needs on your schedule

Career planning is an iterative process and is lifelong.

Depending on the needs and interest of the class, you can further break down the sections of the process and ask students to decide which parts of the career planning process they are most interested in learning about. This can guide you in how best to engage students with the curriculum.

Career Planning Model

Cultural Context: Self-Exploration Process

Cultural Context: Occupational Exploration

Cultural Context: Career Planning Skills

Self-exploration looks at:

  • Skills • Interests
  • Education • Values
  • Experience

Occupational Exploration looks at:

  • Occupational/job profiles
  • Informational interviews
  • Career/job fairs
  • Labor market information

Educational and Career Planning looks at:

  • Decision making
  • Goal setting
  • Problem Solving
  • Action Planning

You can also post the three categories on big sheets of paper and give students index cards with the bullet points and have students put index cards under the correct heading. Leave these big sheets up in the classroom and when the other lessons in the curriculum are presented, refer to them and identify the part of career planning that the lesson addresses.

Extension Activity

For students with previous work experience, ask them to make a list of the jobs they have had and two jobs they would like to have. Then have students pair up and share the lists. Have students talk about any similarities in the jobs they have held and those they would like to have.

For students with limited or no previous work experience, ask them to make a list of at least three jobs they would be interested in having. Pair up students to share the lists. Ask them to talk about any similarities among the jobs they have chosen. Are there any jobs that they might need to have first to gain the experience for those jobs?



Integrating Career Awareness into the ABE & ESOL Classroom | Section II, Lesson 1: The Career Planning Process