ESL classes at MCC aim
to help bridge language gap for non-English speakers





Courses available for both novice, advanced students of English





“We have very diverse classes. We’ll often have 15 different nationalities in a classroom, sometimes I’ll have a class and have five or six Spanish speakers. Sometimes I’ll just have one or two. There are many languages in one classroom,” said MCC Penn Valley Melissa Jaquish, ESL coordinator.



BY JOE ARCE AND COREY CRABLE


For those wishing to brush up on their English a bit, or for those who have no experience with speaking English at all, Metropolitan Community College classes are available to help students navigate the world of a new language.

The MCC system has offered ESL classes for nearly 40 years currently, MCC’s Penn Valley campus offers both for-credit and non-credit ESL courses. Which class you’ll want to take depends on your comfort level with English, as well as how you plan to use the language in your everyday life.

“We have day and evening classes, from novice to advanced,” explains Melissa Jaquish, ESL coordinator for MCC Penn Valley. “If a student is just beginning on their English path and they can put a sentence together, they can do a (novice) class. If they’re ready for academic classes, they can take the advanced course.”

Students who are more comfortable with their English may wish to take the class for credit. Those students, Jaquish says, usually wish to learn English in order to better communicate at work, in searching for a job, in writing professional e-mails or in preparation to transfer to a four-year college.

Jaquish adds that she encourages those with a lower English comprehension to take a non-credit course. Those last only five weeks, while the for-credit classes last throughout the entirety of a semester. The non-credit courses would be a better fit for those students who simply need to know the basics of the language in order to complete everyday tasks, such as understanding and communicating information at a medical appointment or speaking with other family members, friends, and teachers.

“I think (learning English) opens up many avenues to people,” Jaquish says. “If they just want to speak English with their children’s teacher, we can help them with that. If they want to learn English to advance on the job, we can help them with that. If they want to take advanced classes to get into other programs, we can help with them with that. We’re focused on meeting those students’ needs.”

For-credit classes for the fall semester have already begun, and enrollment for the spring 2021 semester opens in November. The spring semester will begin in January 2021. In-district tuition rates for these classes are $321 per class out-of-district students, meanwhile, will pay $594 per class, according to information supplied by MCC.

Non-credit ESL classes, meanwhile, last five weeks each. Those new classes begin on Sept. 28, Nov. 2, and Jan. 11. Each non-credit class costs $150.

If you can’t afford those classes on your own, there’s no need to worry, Jaquish says. Tuition assistance is available.

“A lot of students worry about the cost, and since we are a community college, we have options available for financial aid,” she says. “We’re used to helping people pay for things.”

Potential students don’t need to worry about their documentation status, either. Jaquish says the college will help students who identify as undocumented.

“If there is a student concerned about being undocumented, we do have some options available for that, too,” she says.

Although fall classes are only being conducted online, Jaquish says that administrators haven’t yet decided whether spring classes will also be held virtually or in a physical classroom. Regardless of venue, Jaquish says students will get to know their classmates well, and that the ESL classes are always diverse in terms of race, nationality and age (the youngest students have been 18, while the oldest have been in their 70s).

“We have very diverse classes. We’ll often have 15 different nationalities in a classroom,” Jaquish notes. “Sometimes I’ll have a class and have five or six Spanish speakers. Sometimes I’ll just have one or two. There are many languages in one classroom.”

The classes are convenient no matter the student’s schedule. Credit classes are offered from 9:30-10:45 a.m. or 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Monday and Wednesday, or at those same times on Tuesday and Thursday. Evening classes for credit courses, meanwhile, are offered from 6-7:15 p.m. Monday and Wednesday or at those same times on Tuesday and Thursday.

The schedule for non-credit ESL classes is 9:30-10:45 a.m. or 12-1:15 p.m. on Monday and Wednesday. Evening non-credit classes are offered from 6-8:45 p.m. on Monday and at the same time on Wednesday.

“We are always looking to add new students, but there are communities (of people who desire to learn English) that are very large,” Jaquish says. “We want to make sure those communities know we’re here and that our purpose as a community college is to serve those students.”

For more information on the college’s ESL program, visit www.mcckc.edu/esl.