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ESL Frequently Asked Questions

What is the ESL department?

The English as a Second Language (ESL) Department offers English language classes to nonnative speakers of English to help them succeed in college, at their jobs, and in the community at large. We have two programs: AESL non-credit, no enrollment fee classes for learners who want to improve their English to get or keep a job, live in the community, or achieve personal goals; and ESL fee-based, for-credit classes for learners who want to improve their English for academic and/or professional reasons.

Who should take an ESL or AESL class?

If English is not your first language and you have some difficulty with writing, reading, speaking, or listening in English, then an ESL or AESL class may be appropriate for you. Whether you have attended school here in the United States already, are an international student, or are a member of the community, an ESL or AESL class should help you improve your English.

How do I take an ESL class?

  1. Follow the college admissions process outlined on the Admissions and Records website.
  2. Alternatively, you can visit or contact the AESL Center for assistance and we can help you register for any ESL or AESL class.

How to take an AESL class?

Follow the steps on the How to Enroll in AESL Classes webpage.

What classes should I take?

This depends on your educational goal, amount of time available to take a class, and finances.

  • ESL Academic Writing Courses focus on academic writing, reading, vocabulary, and critical thinking to succeed in college and work. These are for credit and cost money to take. Classes are 5 units total and meet 2.5 hours a day, 2 days a week
  • ESL Skills Courses focus on academic individual skills such as vocabulary, reading, or grammar. Classes are 3 units and 1.5 hours a day, 2 days a week or 3 hours a day, 1 day a week.
  • AESL Integrated Courses provide English language and American culture lessons to help students at work and school, their family, and society. Non-credit with no class fees. Classes are 2.5 hours a day, 4 days a week or just over 3 hours a week, 3 days a week.
  • AESL Skills Courses provide focused skill instruction such as conversation or digital literacy. Classes are 1.5 hours a day, 2 days a week or 3 hours 1 day a week.

Refer to the ESL Programs at a Glance for details. Before you choose a class, you must take the ESL assessment to determine what class is best for you.

I want to graduate from IVC quickly, but if I take ESL classes I am nervous it will take me too long to finish. Can I skip the ESL classes and take the regular college classes instead?

Becoming proficient in English takes time, and even native speakers of English have difficulty keeping up with the reading and writing demands of college classes. To succeed in classes that demand a lot of writing and reading, completing the ESL core sequence first (by finishing ESL 90) will help most students pass such classes, especially WR 1.

Unfortunately, some students who decide not to take ESL classes before taking difficult transfer-level courses often fail or withdraw from these classes because even though they think that their English is good enough or that they will try very hard, they don’t have the necessary academic grammar, reading and writing skills to pass. It can be a waste of time and money if students take a class that is too difficult too soon, so students should take ESL courses as soon as possible.

If a student does very well in his or her first semester of a class (for example ESL 370), he or she can possibly skip the next level class (for example ESL 80) by passing a writing challenge. This will shorten the length of the ESL sequence if the student is ready to move on quickly. Students should ask their instructor about this option.

Lastly, U.S. high school graduates are eligible to take WR 1 if they choose.

I don’t want or need to graduate from IVC, but I need help with my English for a job, for my family, for my community, or for another reason. Are there ESL classes for me at IVC?

Yes! You can take one of our AESL Integrated Courses or AESL Skills Courses which are specifically designed for this reason. Also, many students who don’t want a college degree still benefit from taking our ESL Skills Courses or our ESL Academic Writing Courses to improve their English to an advanced level.

I want to talk to someone in person about ESL or AESL classes. What should I do?

Contact or visit the AESL Center, Room B382, when we are open. We have bilingual staff to help you.​