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1. English is not my first language, but I took ESL in American high school and graduated. 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, the 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.  In order to compare your English abilities with those of students in transfer-level English courses and also ESL students in lower levels, we suggest that you take the Guided Self Placement Survey.

2. I need to finish school quickly. In order to save time, is it best to skip ESL?

That depends on you and how much progress you make. If you find a level that is right for you, you can study hard and skip higher levels.  However, it is important to start in the right level.

Take the ESL Guided Self Placement Survey in order to find out what level is best for you!

3. I want to transfer to a college or university. Will ESL look bad on my transcript?

Many students who are not prepared for college-level English will drop out of ENGL 100 before the end of the semester. Avoid dropping out by making sure that you are prepared with the language skills that you need. Ws and Ds look bad on your transcript. ESL classes do not.

4. I am an international student. My placement results say ENGL 100, but I’m a little nervous. What can I do?


First, all new students have placement results of ENGL 100.  New laws in the state of California allow for any student to have access to transfer-level English classes.  However, not all students are ready for these courses.  You have a few good options.

  • You can choose to take ESL 100 instead of ENGL 100.  The material covered in these two courses is equivalent.  However, the instructors of the ESL 100 classes have degrees in both ESL and English, and an extra hour of instruction time has been added in order to give some extra attention to ESL grammar and sentence structure errors.

  • You can enroll in one or more of the ESL Support Courses.  There are FIVE courses that were designed to support students just like you, and they are FREE!  These courses will help you in areas such as Reading/Vocabulary, Sentence Structure, Grammar, Pronunciation, and Spelling.  They use FREE Online Educational Resources (OER) instead of textbooks, and they only meet one day per week; this means that they do not take much time out of your schedule, and they do not cost anything, but they can greatly improve your English proficiency.

  • If you prefer to take another course before enrolling in ENGL/ESL 100, you can choose to take ESL 192, which teaches American-style essay composition to English learners.  ESL 062 is also available in order to improve your skills in reading and summary writing.  In order to find out which of those courses might be best for you, we recommend that you take the Guided Self Placement Survey.  This will help you to compare your English abilities with those of students in transfer-level English courses and also ESL students in lower levels.  In the end, it will guide you to the level that is best for you.


5. What is the difference between ENGL 100 and ESL 100?

First of all, the content of the two courses is the same; they both require students to write extensive essays and research papers in addition to using academic vocabulary and reading college-level reading passages.  Both courses also work on the same writing elements and techniques.  They are both the same number of units, which means that they cost the same price as well.

There are two major differences. 

  1. ESL 100 includes extra attention to ESL writing errors, such as sentence structure, grammar, academic vocabulary, etc.  The reason that we can do this is because all of the ESL 100 instructors have degrees in both English and ESL.  Also, ESL 100 is one hour longer each week than ENGL 100 in order to make time for those discussions. (However, they are still the same number of units.)

  2. ENGL 100 counts as the "Written Communication" requirement for all OCC degrees, CSU degrees, and UC degrees.  This is required for all GEs (General Education requirements).  However, ESL 100 has not been confirmed to transfer to UCs for their "Written Communication" requirement YET.  At this point, ESL 100 will fill the "Written Communication" requirement for all OCC degrees and CSU degrees.  It will transfer to UCs as an elective right now, but we are still waiting for confirmation from the UCs about its transferability as the "Written Communication" requirement.

6. How can I find the right ESL class?

Option #2: Talk to an ESL Advisor. He or she will be happy to help you find the right class.
  • Laurie Barton; Lit and Lang 133; 
  • Cheryl Bucholtz-Magallon; Lit and Lang 133;