English Under the Arches - Oak Brook, IL
McDonald's English Under the Arches is an innovative workplace English instruction program that provides shift managers with the language skills they need to manage restaurant operations and staff.
Working with nationally recognized English-for-Speakers-of-Other-Languages (ESOL) experts, McDonald's developed a work-based English curriculum that helps immigrant workers gain on-the-job knowledge, skills, and confidence. Students participate simultaneously from their own restaurants, through the use of web-conferencing
technology that allows them to connect with a teacher via phone and computer. Students also meet face-to-face and have the opportunity for independent study via an e-learning component. The free classes take place during working hours, helping the students to maintain work and family commitments.
McDonald's teams up with local community colleges to identify outstanding ESOL instructors interested in virtual teaching, and recruits and trains them on the curriculum through a dedicated Web site.
During its first three years, English Under the Arches has trained 500 students at 14 locations, posting an 85 percent graduation rate. Most graduates have received wage increases and have gained both valuable language skills and confidence in their abilities that will help them advance in their careers.
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Leveraging partnerships with community colleges, known for their expertise in teaching adult ESOL, McDonald's has created a low-cost, high-impact model of English workplace instruction.
Other businesses, government agencies, and academic institutions could adapt this distance- and multiple-site learning model to meet the needs of immigrant workers who are not fully proficient in English.
With English Under the Arches, McDonald's is showing that this multiple-site learning model can be effective for employers and workers alike - and making clear that promoting immigrant integration is a winning proposition for both businesses and employees.
About Betsy McKay, Director of Bilingual Leadership
Betsy McKay is Director of Bilingual Leadership Development at McDonald's USA, where she leads a team to design and deploy innovative English As a Second Language (ESL) instruction to leverage high-potential restaurant managers by improving their English skills. English Under the Arches, a series of three course levels designed by McDonald's, focuses on the English that restaurant managers need to run an effective shift.
Ms. McKay has been with McDonald's Corporation for more than 15 years. Prior to her current role, she directed curriculum design for McDonald's US Training, Learning, and Development Department and was responsible for the development of high-impact training and tools for crew, restaurant managers, and mid-managers to improve restaurant results. She brings an expertise in information design and simplified communications, and has championed system-wide innovations in crew training and operations training. She has been part of numerous teams recognized by McDonald's team awards.
Prior to joining McDonald's, Ms. McKay held increasingly responsible positions in marketing strategy and communications at Aetna Life & Casualty (Hartford, Connecticut), working in the Healthcare and Financial Services divisions.