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Orange County

Orange County ESOL Pilot Success Leads to Program Expansion

Amazon, GOAA, and Gaylord Palms Adopt Model; Will Offer Language Upskilling for Employees Through UCF Global


What started as a first-of-its-kind pilot program with Orange County Government partnering with UCF Global, Rosen Hotels & Resorts, and Aeras Foundation will now become a fully funded program within the I-Drive Community Redevelopment Area (CRA) to provide onsite English language instruction tailored to the needs of working adults.

Orange County Government is expanding its ESOL for Working Adults program beginning in January 2024 due to increased learning gains, high satisfaction scores from employees and employers, and measurably increased guest satisfaction.

“With public resources, the County is uniquely positioned to foster partnerships and prove the value of innovative approaches like this,” said Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings. ”Not only does this program increase opportunity for growth among participants, but it also benefits employers at the center of our world-class tourism industry. I look forward to future workforce recommendations to how our private and institutional partners can work alongside the County to propel our community forward.”

Within the I-Drive CRA, Paramount Hospitality Management, the Orange County Convention Center, and Hilton Orlando will now be joining the inaugural employer partner, Rosen Hotels & Resorts, to provide space, time, support, and pay for their employees participating in the language learning coursework.

“Serving overseas as an Army officer, I quickly recognized the importance of understanding the language of the country where I was serving,” said Harris Rosen, President and COO of Rosen Hotels & Resorts.

“Making these classes accessible to our associates to attend while on the clock is critical to this program’s success. I am so proud of our associates for their desire to better themselves and for the partnerships that made this program so successful.”

As this English language learning model becomes a permanent initiative within the Orange County I-Drive CRA, private businesses outside of that area –Amazon, Gaylord Palms, and the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, for example – are using the pilot to directly work with the instruction partner, UCF Global to provide ESOL education to their employees.

“UCF is excited to be the instruction partner for this expanded effort to unleash the potential of those in our community by making high-quality language learning affordable and accessible,” said UCF President Alexander N. Cartwright. “We believe that education has the power to transform lives, and collaborations such as this have a meaningful impact on our workforce, industries, and region.”

“Last year we launched English language classes to expand our offerings and support employees regardless of where they are on their academic or professional journey,”Tammy Thieman, Global Director of Amazon Career Choice explained. “We’ve seen great participation in these offerings in Florida and we’re looking forward to continuing to partner with UCF and our other local partners to offer more options to associates – including more in-person language classes -- in the Orlando area.”

For the January 2024 start date, instructional agreements are currently being finalized with UCF Global and Orange County Public Schools, while Orange County will continue to partner with the Aeras Foundation, which provides digital devices that expand online learning opportunities.

2023 ESOL Pilot Key Findings:

This innovative program removes barriers for workers to learn English while promoting upskilling and upward mobility with onsite instruction. Research findings indicate that employees found work schedules (49%), lack of time (27%), cost (26%), and availability of classes (22%) were top obstacles in the past. Additional findings include: 

  • Satisfaction: Overall perceptions of the program were overwhelmingly positive, with a majority (89%) indicating a willingness to recommend it. “My employer supported me.” ranked as the top benefit.
  • Learning Gains: There were statistically significant gains across all areas of instruction, with Speaking showing the most improvement.

o   Grammar scores significantly increased from pre-test to post-test

o   Vocabulary scores significantly increased from pre-test to post-test

o   Reading scores significantly increased from pre-test to post-test

o   Speaking scores significantly increased from pre-test to post-test

  • Employer Feedback:

o   Increased associate confidence, in turn, comes with increased morale and associate retention. “We noticed associates becoming more comfortable in their roles, with the guests and overall, and with their happiness at work.”

o   Increased guest satisfaction scores on greetings from staff.

o   Increased opportunity for growth within the organization.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: To address talent shortages, Orange County’s International Drive Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) advisory group recommended an investment in English Learning language to support professional growth and retention.

In September 2022, Orange County Government partnered with UCF Global, Rosen Hotels & Resorts and Aeras Foundation to launch a first-of-its-kind pilot program to provide onsite English language instruction tailored to the needs of working adults in the I-Drive CRA.

For more information and the full research findings, visit www.ocfl.net/ESOL

 About Orange County Government: Orange County Government strives to serve its residents and guests with integrity, honesty, fairness, and professionalism. Located in Central Florida, Orange County includes 13 municipalities and is home to world-famous theme parks, one of the nation’s largest convention centers, and a thriving life science research park. Seven elected members make up the Board of County Commissioners, including the Mayor, who is elected countywide. For more information, please visit www.OCFL.net or go to Orange County Government’s social media channels.

About UCF Global: UCF Global is on a quest to transform lives by providing access to high-impact, international experiences across the UCF and global community with a commitment to excellence in partnership, innovation, and services. For more information, visit https://global.ucf.edu/

About Rosen Hotels & Resorts: Providing excellence for nearly 50 years in Central Florida, Rosen Hotels & Resorts proudly includes the award-winning convention properties Rosen Plaza, Rosen Centre, and Rosen Shingle Creek, in addition to four leisure properties, Rosen Inn International, Rosen Inn closest to Universal, Rosen Inn at Pointe Orlando and Rosen Inn Lake Buena Vista. All are equally committed to providing outstanding guest service, value, and security. Rosen Hotels & Resorts also gives generously through its multiple foundations, changing lives forever with affordable health coverage and providing college scholarship programs for children in underserved communities. For more information, please visit www.rosenhotels.com.

About Aeras Foundation: Aeras Foundation is a Central Florida non-profit organization promoting digital equity in underserved communities and partnering with Central Florida non-profits that provide wrap-around and life-altering services to their constituents. We believe technology is not a luxury; it is a necessity. We give those without access to technology the same opportunity as those who do. When we give technology, it is never about the device. It is about the ability to connect and empower people to advance. Technology connects us to knowledge. It allows us to access remarkable resources and the happenings around the world and removes the physical barriers of the classroom. It becomes a cap and gown, a college application, or a new career. It changes the trajectory of an individual and their overall family unit.

ESOL, Orange County, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, ESOL for Working Adults