Critical Pedagogy Meets 'Survival English': One Community Based Workplace Literacy Program's Approach to Educating Immigrant Women in California

This article considers the advantages of broadening conceptions of ‘political action’ in ways that more effectively support critical pedagogical practices in adult ESL classrooms. Anchored in ethnographic and discourse analytic methods, the following analysis of formal and informal learning opportunities in one community based workplace literacy program serving low income immigrant women in California explores how educational practices and political agendas both converged and conflicted. Blending feminist critiques of ‘empowerment education,’ conceptions of resistance and agency, and critical pedagogy scholarship to highlight the challenges of moving from theory to practice, the following account reaffirms Freire’s call to honor the political as it emerges from learners’ lives and needs.