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English as a Second Language

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 free, non-credit 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. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Third, follow the steps below: "What classes should I take?"

Alternatively, you can come to the AESL Center in B382 for assistance and we can help you register for any class. 

How to take an AESL Class

Follow the steps on the How to Enroll in AESL Classes page.​

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. For credit and cost money to take. Classes are 5 units total and meet 2.5 hours a day, 2 days a week.
  • ESL Multi-Skills Courses focus on all parts of learning English together, such as reading, writing, grammar, speaking, and listening. For credit and cost money to take. Classes are 5 units and meet 2.5 hours a day, 2 days a week.
  • ESL Skills Courses focus on an individual skill such as conversation or reading. For credit and cost money to take. Classes are 3 units and 1.5 hours a day, 2 days a week or 3 hours a day, 1 day a week.
  • AESL 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 3 hours a day, 4 days a week.

Refer to the AESL and ESL comparison page for details. Before you choose a class, you must take the ESL assessment test 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 201) 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. 

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. Students should ask their instructor about this option.

I already took the native speaker assessment (English assessment) and placed into WR 399 or WR 201. Should I take the ESL assessment and take an ESL class instead?

Yes. WR 399 and WR 201 are designed for native speakers of English and don’t offer the ESL linguistic support and specific ESL teaching strategies that help non-native English speakers acquire academic English skills. Students who need this ESL support sometimes fail or drop out of WR 399/201 because they don’t have the necessary vocabulary, reading, and writing skills needed for the class. In fact, students who complete the ESL sequence and complete WR 1 receive a higher grade in WR 1, on average, than those students who complete the English sequence and complete WR 1. 

It may take students more semesters to complete the ESL sequence, but in the end for many students, it is worth the early investment as they will be more likely to have success in their future college courses

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 classes, which are specifically designed for this reason. Also, many students who don’t want a college degree still benefit from taking our ESL specific skill classes, multi-skill classes, or even our academic writing classes.

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

Come to the AESL Center, room B382, when we are open. We have bilingual staff to help you.


Rebecca Beck
Co-Chair and Instructor, ESL
O: LA 218

Jeff Wilson
Co-Chair and Instructor, ESL
O: LA 218

Brent Warner
Instructor, ESL
O: A 234

T: 949-451-5510
AESL Center, Room B382