By Michelle L. Matthews
CCC Journalism Program
BLACKWOOD – Attending college is hard enough, but imagine going to a school in the United States and not speaking English. It just cannot be done. This is where the English as a Second Language (ESL) program at Camden County College comes into play.
The ESL program “provides non-native speakers of English with the linguistic and cultural skills necessary for academic achievement, integration into American society, and success in the workplace,” the ESL homepage on CCC’s website states.
There are seven proficiency levels that the college recognizes. Once an international student reaches level 3, or begins the program at that level, they are able to enroll in college-level classes. The ESL advisors work closely with the students to ensure they are selecting courses that apply to their proficiency levels.
David Bruno, the ESL department chairperson, points out that if a student enters at level 1 after taking the AccuPlacer ESL test, it will take that student five semesters to complete the program. However, he also points out that if a student gets placed at level 3, it will usually take three semesters to satisfy the program requirements.
ESL students take classes structured at each level for reading, writing, grammar, and also a listening and speaking course. The program is “extremely challenging” due to the classes all being taught in English, Bruno states.
“This can be very stressful for students, especially during the first semester at the college,” Bruno says. The classes are all quite demanding, but most of the students who enroll in the program do complete it.
The ESL department has a Computer-Assisted Language Lab (C.A.L.L.), which is dedicated to helping the students further. They are able to use this lab to assist with their classes or to use on their own. The software used is exclusive to ESL students and is available at all proficiency levels. Here the students are able to improve on their reading and writing skills. They are also able to work on listening, speaking and even researching.
The Tutoring Center also welcomes ESL students who seek further practice or assistance.
The ESL program at CCC is the largest in the region, according to the college’s website. Each semester hundreds of international students participate in the program.