ESL program hopes for a language learning center

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Almost 1,000 students enrolled in ESL classes in the fall.

By Marissa Macias

English-as-a-second language faculty hope they are getting closer to adding a developmental lab for the center for English language learning in Oppenheimer Academic Center.

Sharla Jones, English-as-a-second language professor, has worked to build this lab for the past 10 years.

“The sense of community that the students have is something I would like to see more of in a learning center,” Jones said Feb. 19.

Jones also created a language learning lab at Northwest Vista College, which operated from 2000 until the ESL program was canceled in 2010. 

“Students would come because they like the idea of those specialized workshops when we had a facility to do it in,” Jones said.

The lab here would offer computers equipped with supporting software for reading, writing, grammar, listening and speaking skills practice; writing and reading centers with an ESL resource library; tutoring services; and specialized workshops and seminars.

Cross-language tutoring would be an added benefit the lab would bring to the program by encouraging better collaboration between all student languages, Jones said.

“You can have students who are studying Spanish who could get tutoring from the students who are studying English who are Spanish speakers,” Jones said.

Funding is the main factor holding up production, Jones said.

“That’s what we are trying to figure out. Where we are getting the money from to do this,” Jones said.

With a cost of about $30,000, the lab would have 25 sign-in computers with software, 30 headphones with microphone capabilities and job opportunities for supplemental instructional leaders.

Monitors would be furnished by the office of technology services, she said.

The development of the learning center is coming out in phases, Tom Cox, chair of languages, said Feb. 19.

Phase 1 is finding a suitable classroom for the lab, then finding the funding for furniture and software, Cox said.

“It is still in the early planning stages, but it would be nice if we could have part of it rolled out by fall, but that would be a little optimistic depending on what would happen over summer,” Cox said.

The ESL program is part of the languages department. The coordinator for ESL is Professor Anna Budzinski.

The program offers four levels of courses in Flex 1 and Flex 2 semesters.

Each level offers courses under the ESLA rubric in speaking and listening, writing, grammar and reading.

After Level 4, students who are enrolled in the ESLA credit program can take English for Academic Purposes classes.

ENGA courses are designed for English language learners to help transition them into college-level classes, according to the ESL webpage on the college website.

ENGA courses are in reading and vocabulary, and composition and grammar.

During the fall semester, 993 students were enrolled in the ESLA program in two flex semesters.

For more information, call Cox at 210-486-1115 or email


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