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ESL Academic Program

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ESLA Brochure-coverThe WCC English as a Second Language Academic (ESLA) program is an excellent choice for ESL learners for a number of reasons. ESLA students have the opportunity to attend classes with people from around the world, as Whatcom hosts international students from more than 25 different countries each year.

ESLA faculty have Master's degrees in teaching English as a second language or related fields and have many years of experience teaching in the U.S. and overseas. Because the ESLA program is part of Whatcom Community College, students have access to all college facilities, such as computer labs, the library, sports facilities, and a tutoring center – at no extra cost.

No TOEFL or other standardized test score is required for admission to the ESLA program – though a 61 internet-based TOEFL score (or equivalent) allows students to enroll in at least one college-level course. Once a student has completed the highest level of any intensive course sequence, he or she may enroll in a college-level course without additional testing.


Intensive courses

The intensive courses allow students to study English full-time in order to prepare for college courses. These courses offer flexibility to match students' levels in discrete language skills.

  • 5 levels of proficiency in each language skill are offered
  • The core curriculum comprises 4 language skills (16 hours per week)
  • Electives include International Student Life, Pronunciation, American Culture through Film, TOEFL Preparation (2 hours per week)
  • Multi-level placement process allows students to begin college courses upon completion of one language skill (see sample student schedules on next page)
  • Two sessions each quarter allow possible promotion to higher level mid-quarter


College transition courses

College transition courses allow students to continue to develop their English competency and, at the same time, begin their college degree or certificate program. Learn more about the program here.

  • Students study academic writing, including using sources
  • Students learn techniques for reading college-level texts
  • Support classes are available for additional college-level reading & writing techniques and development of advanced discussion techniques
  • Students take at least one college course concurrently with College Transition ESL
  • Students become well-prepared for college courses (96% of international students who complete College Transition Courses score better than average in English 101)