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ESL Frequently Asked Questions

  • (1) 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.

  • (2) Who should take an ESL class?
    • If English is not your first language and you have some difficulty with writing, reading, speaking, or listening in English, then an ESL 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 class should help you improve your English.

  • (3) How do I take a class?
    • First, become an IVC student by applying and registering here.  Click on the "Begin Application for Irvine Valley College" button at the bottom of the page.

      Second, take the ESL assessment (placement) test in the assessment center in the student services building to find out what level (beginning, intermediate, or advanced) you are in.

      • Click on the link below to watch how to take the ESL Assessment Test:


      Third, follow the steps below: "What classes should I take?"

  • (4) What classes should I take?
    • We offer both core classes (that focus on all parts of learning English together such as reading, writing, grammar, speaking, and listening) and skill classes that focus on an individual skill in English (such as conversation, pronunciation, writing, reading, grammar, vocabulary, and idioms). Classes are offered at the beginning, intermediate, and advanced levels during the day and at night (please take the ESL assessment test first to determine what level is best for you). >

      Before you choose a class, be sure to take the ESL assessment test (watch the video above). For more information, talk to an IVC counselor or contact an ESL professor below:



      For a quick review of the classes, look at the ESL organizational class chart ESL online course decriptions PDFESLorg_11_12.pdf, review the descriptions in the online course catalog here, or watch this short video:

      Lastly, if you need to take WR 201, passing ESL 81a will allow you to enroll in WR 201 the next semester.

  • (5) 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 81A) will help most students pass such classes, especially the Writing classes such as WR 201 or WR 1.

      Unfortunately, some students who decide to skip the ESL sequence before taking a Writing class often fail or withdraw from their class 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 we recommend that students take some ESL classes first to prepare themselves to pass their other reading and writing classes.

      Lastly, if a student does very well in his or her first semester of a class (for example ESL 361A), he or she can possibly skip the second semester of the class (for example ESL 361B) by passing a writing challenge. This will shorten the length of the ESL sequence if the student is ready to move on quickly. However, we recommend that students take both semesters of the sequence for best results.​

  • (6) I already took the native speaker assessment test and placed into Reading 370, WR 301, WR 201, or WR 1. Should I take an ESL class?
    • Since Reading 370 and WR 301 are designed for native speakers of English and do not directly help nonnative speakers with specific English language concerns, we suggest that you instead complete the ESL core sequence by finishing ESL 81a. After you finish ESL 81a, you can then take WR 201 directly, so you shouldn’t lose any time by taking ESL classes first.

      If you placed into WR 201 or WR 1, you don’t have to complete the ESL core sequence first (although some students have found this to be helpful). However, you may want to consider taking the following skill classes before or during the same semester of your WR 201 or WR 1 class to help you succeed:

      • Advanced Grammar Review (ESL 387)
      • Advanced Writing and Grammar (ESL 388)
      • Advanced Vocabulary (ESL 384)
      • Advanced Reading (ESL 385)
      • Advanced Conversation (ESL 382)
      • Pronunciation class (ESL 383)
      • ESL Language Lab & Conference (ESL 389)

  • (7) 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 skills classes anytime, and, if you have the time, we encourage you to complete our core ESL sequence as well. Review the ESL class chart for more details.

  • (8) Where can I find out more about the ESL writing challenge?
    • Contact the assessment center at (949) 451-5315,visit their website, or speak to your current ESL professor. They will be able to help you take the writing challenge. Students may only challenge to skip a sequence class in the following core classes: ESL 340b, 341b, 360b, 361b, and 380b. The challenge is a 50 minute in-class writing activity in response to a short prompt.​


Brooke Choo, PhD
Interim Dean, Languages & Learning Resources

O: LA 209

Erika Arendts
Sr. Admin. Assistant, Languages & Learning Resources

O: LA 207

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