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Home > Academics > Academic Divisions > Literature & Languages > English as a Second Language > Description of the ESL Department's Programs

Description of the ESL Department's Programs

In order to help students succeed, there are TWO different programs within the ESL Department: Credit ESL and Noncredit ELL.


Credit ESL is recommended if you are interested in:

- meeting the requirement of full-time enrollment

- completing a degree or certificate at OCC

- transferring from OCC to a four-year university

- improving English communication in business and professional life


Click here to learn more about Credit ESL. 


Noncredit ELL is recommended if you are interested in:

- better communication with the English-speaking community

- improving English for US citizenship 

- helping your children in the American school system

- preparing for career certificates/college degrees

- improving English for workplace communication


Click here to learn more about Noncredit ELL. 


The ESL Department offers a rigorous semi-intensive, academic program that prepares students for college-level classes at OCC and for transfer to 4-year universities.  Many students who have finished our program have transferred to California State Universities (CSUs), the University of California (UC), and private universities such as USC and Chapman.  Other students have completed certificates in their chosen area and/or have gained English proficiency for employment.                                             

Speaking and Listening Classes​

                Courses that emphasize listening skills (note-taking preparation for academic classes) and speaking skills (including pronunciation and stress), along with academic vocabulary development

Grammar, Reading and Writing Classes

Intense language courses to develop academic skills in second-language grammar, reading, and writing.

Advanced Writing Classes

                Rigorous academic reading and writing course which emphasize summary/responses (060/065)  and essay writing (099), with an emphasis on direct grammar instruction targeting second language errors, in preparation for English 100 (Freshman Composition)and all college-level classes

Why should you take ESL courses at Orange Coast College?

  • Students who go through our program are better prepared to succeed academically

                Students who take ESL 099 are more likely to pass English 100--Freshman Composition compared to students who take only English 100 or English 099.

  • It's especially important for students who want to transfer to a four-year college to polish their reading analysis and writing skills and identify and correct typical second language errors.


  • ESL courses are taught by professors with Master's degrees in linguistics and second language methodologies who are specially trained to work with students like you! 



  Complete an application and send it to Orange Coast College, 2701 Fairview Road, Costa Mesa.

Forms are available at the OCC Admissions Office in Watson Hall or online at Click on the link for Prospective Students and then Enrollment Steps.

    Take the ESL Placement test to determine your current skill levels by calling the Assessment Center at 714-432-5789 to set up an appointment.

  Find information information about counseling by clicking on Student Services and then Counseling Services.  Make an appointment to meet with a counselor by calling 714-432-5700.

To talk to an ESL advisor, call 714-432-5716 or (714) 432-5717.   

   Parking is free during the registration period.


Frequently-Asked-Questions (FAQs)

1. English is not my first language, but I took ESL in American high school and graduated. Why should I take ESL in college?

Most American high schools do not emphasize grammar. As a result, students who take both English and ESL in high school are fluent and advanced, but they still make mistakes that are not acceptable at the college level. At OCC, ESL classes are taught by professors with special training. They are experts in grammar and reading. Their goal is to help you read and write at the college level as quickly as possible.


2. I need to finish school quickly. Won't ESL take longer to complete?

That depends on you and how much progress you make. Students who are enrolled in ESL 060 or 065 can take the Challenge Exam and go directly into English 100. Also, students can appeal levels.

3. I don't want to be in a class with people who don't speak English. Won't I be wasting my time?

While some students in ESL classes may have speaking difficulties, most do not. Like you, they need help with reading and writing for success in graduation and transfer. And ESL class is definitely not a waste of time. Students who complete ESL 099 have a higher success rate in English 100 (83%) compared to students who take English 099 (73%). ESL students also have a higher success rate than students who test directly into English 100 (65%).


4. If I decide to take ESL, will I lose my English placement?

No. You will still be able to register in the English class that corresponds to your English placement test score. If you originally placed in English 100, you may register in English 100 at any time whether or not you complete any preparatory classes.

5. I am an international student. I tested into English 100, but I'm a little nervous. What can I do?

Students who tested into English 100 on the ESL Placement Test may choose to take ESL 060, emphasizing reading and summary writing; ESL 065, emphasizing advanced sentence construction; and/or ESL 099, emphasizing American-style essay composition.


7. How can I find the right ESL class?

Talk to an ESL Advisor. He or she will be happy to help you find the right class.

Professor Laurie Barton, Lit &Lang 133; (714) 432-5717   

Professor Cheryl Bucholtz-Magallon, Lit &Lang 133; (714) 432-5717

California Residents

To become an ESL student at Orange Coast College, follow these steps:

    Complete an online application. Go to our home page and click on apply now. If you're not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, also contact the International Student Center.

    You will receive an acceptance email in 3-5 business days. After you receive your confirmation email click on the link to make an appointment for your ESL placement test.

    Pick up your test results. Your test report will tell you which classes are right for you.

    Register for Classes online on or after your registration appointment time.

If you have questions, please contact Prof. Laurie Barton or Prof. Greg Conner at (714) 432-5717 or Prof. Tamar Goldmann at (714) 432-5595.



Scholarship Opportunities

John Coates Memorial ESL Scholarship

The John Coates Memorial Scholarship is given each year to one outstanding ESL student. Named after John Coates, a long-time OCC instructor who played a key role in forming the ESL department, this scholarship is given to students with excellent performance in ESL classes and positive interaction with others of various nationalities and cultures.

So Nguyen Memorial Scholarship


The So Nguyen Memorial Scholarship is given each year to one outstanding ESL student. Named after So Nguyen, a long-time OCC instructor who inspired his students and colleagues to do their best at all times and to persevere in challenging circumstances, this scholarship is given to students with excellent performance in ESL classes and positive interaction with others of various nationalities and cultures.


 We encourage ESL students to apply!

In order to apply, get an application from an ESL advisor or download the application via the link below.

You will need to follow these steps:

1. Complete both sides of this application form.

2. Ask a current or former ESL instructor at OCC for a recommendation.

3. Submit the application and recommendation to Dr. Diane Colvin (Lit & Lang 134) or Dr. María Lerma (Lit & Lang 136).

John Coates and So Nguyen Memorial ESLScholarship.docxJohnCoatesMemorial ESLScholarship.docx