Support for ESL Students in Community College

Learn about the support programs available for ESL students in community college.
As community colleges provide students of diverse backgrounds with access to courses, instruction, and training venues, schools are now implementing increased support for students whose primary and native language is not English. Students who are in the process of learning English are referred as English as a Second Language (ESL) students, and community colleges are revising their programs to extend and improve academic and campus support.
 
Community College ESL Courses
 
Many community colleges offer ESL students a variety of specialized language courses. Typically, students will take a proficiency test and will then enroll in the appropriate ESL / language course based on individual skills and abilities. As Kenneth Beare in “Setting ESL Class Objectives” explains, taking “language acquisition needs into consideration when planning a class or individual instruction is crucial for a successful learning experience […] When a student understands his/her reasons for learning English well, he can then better plan his learning strategy. In the classroom, he/she can help the teacher identify needs and desires.”
 
Community College ESL Resources
 
In addition to specialized courses, most community colleges also provide students with personalized support systems, such as tutoring offices and academic advisors. Students can take advantage of ESL resources by visiting the community college campus resource center, or by meeting with an academic advisor for further guidance and information. 
 
Examining Community College ESL Programs
 
 
Located in Mesa, Arizona, Mesa Community College provides ESL students with a variety of resources and programs for academic support. As MCC explains, “ESL Support Services provides informational services to prospective students who wish to enroll in ESL courses. The office assists students with the enrollment process by providing services for admission to the college, academic advisement and course registration for ESL courses.” The ESL support services have an array of visiting hours where students can meet with teacher’s aids and advisors, while MCC also offers a diverse curriculum of ESL class offerings for students whose primary language is not English. 
 
To enroll in Mesa Community College’s ESL courses, students must take a language proficiency placement test, known as the CELSA, which will help provide information on a student’s English language abilities. Once advisors receive test scores, students can be guided towards the appropriate classroom options, as “MCC's regular ESL program offers a variety of semester long (16-week) ESL classes at five different language levels for beginning, intermediate, and advanced students as well as an Intensive English program (8-week sessions) which meets five days a week.” 
 
 
Located in Hartford, Connecticut, Capital Community College provides ESL students with a comprehensive program and network of support. As CCC describes, “The mission of Capital 's English-as-a-Second Language Program is to enable non-native English speaking students to develop and synthesize the core English language proficiency skills necessary for success in diploma and certificate programs at the College.” Students attending Capital Community College can participate in an integrated four-level of ESL curriculum, which includes classes in listening, reading, speaking, and writing. To enroll in the appropriate courses, advisors guide students by reviewing their written test results prior to classroom placement.
 
In addition to classes, “The English-as-a-Second-Language Program offers a variety of support services designed to facilitate language acquisition. ESL tutors are available for individual or small-group English language skill improvement practice and/or homework assistance.” Students can visit the tutoring center during a variety of drop-in hours, as the academic tutors are trained and prepared to help students with language barriers. Furthermore, CCC provides students with an ESL counselor, who can advise students regarding “academic matters to support their transition into content-area courses or improved professional opportunities.” 
 
Adding to this, as the goal of CCC’s program is to both support and prepare students for their careers after college, the Capital Community College has also designed a program for computer-aided language support. Located in one of the academic service centers, “this computer-aided language learning facility offers a range of software, audio, video and online learning tools to students enrolled in the ESL Program.” The facility is equipped with “the latest in technology and networking,” while the lab can also supplement classroom instruction. Furthermore, the computer programs deliver “an array of innovative and interactive opportunities for independent or collaborative language practice in the areas of listening, speaking, reading, and writing.”
 
 
Located in Holyoke, Massachusetts, Holyoke Community College offers both ESL courses in addition to programs for added assistance. HCC offers both an ESL Support Program, in addition to a Multicultural Activities Office, which each “serves students whose native language is not English.” 
 
The HCC ESL courses and services “prepare students for college-level courses in associate degree or certificate programs,” as the services include assistance such as “bilingual tutoring, both individual and group, pre-college advising, self-directed and computerized lab instruction, orientation seminars for new students, study skills and career development courses, financial aid consultation, language assessment/placement, student advocacy and referrals, academic and career counseling, (and) multicultural and co-curricular activities.”
 
Even if English is your second language, community colleges provide excellent programs that can help any student gain fluency in the language, helping you obtain both academic degrees and professional opportunities. 
 
References:
 
 
 
 
“Setting ESL Class Objectives,” available at http://esl.about.com/od/intermediateenglish/a/setobject.htm

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