The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

ESOL program makes changes

By Heather Horton/south news editor

A new policy starting this spring will allow prospective students who are non-native speakers to waive the Texas Success Initiative assessment to improve their English-speaking skills by taking courses in English for Speakers of Other Languages.

Until now, all incoming students were required to take this assessment regardless of their ability to read and write in English. Based on their test results, students could enroll in college-level courses or be placed in the appropriate developmental courses.

NW instructor Anita Biber believes the change will help students succeed.

“The waiver will provide the students the opportunity to focus on language proficiency as they start their TCC journey,” she said. “They will transition into their transfer core courses with more confidence and awareness of a support system.”

For SE student Quang Ngo, the assessment proved a challenge. Since English is his second language, he said he was not initially ready. After ESOL classes, he was better prepared.

“The classes have been very good for us. It has helped us prepare for regular classes at TCC,” Ngo said. “The instructors have helped me to be more confident.”

ESOL, available on NE, NW and SE, consists of developmental courses in listening, speaking, reading and writing English. These progressive courses do not earn credit and are not transferable. Grades do not affect grade point averages.

“We use common learning materials and learning objectives, so this expands flexibility to our students,” Biber said. 

SE ESOL instructor Mary Cinatl said these 12 developmental educational courses may be taken prior to the TSI. Once within their 15th hour of ESOL courses, students may then take the placement test.

“We have three levels each: oral communication, which focuses on listening and speaking skills; writing and grammar courses, which are just grammar courses; reading and vocabulary courses as well as composition courses,” she said.

ESOL parallels what students learn through developmental reading and writing, Cinatl said. For the spring semester, Reading Techniques II (RDNG 0363) and Writing Techniques II (ENGL 0325) have been consolidated into one course, Integrated Reading/Writing (INRW 0399). ESOL has chosen to keep their classes separate.

“We feel that second-language learners, although they get that connection between reading and writing, they still need that additional practice,” Cinatl said.

Cinatl said this gives the ESOL learner a better chance at success when taking the TSI.

Student Anais Estevez took the placement test before she was aware the ESOL program was available to her.

“When I took the Accuplacer, I could not meet the levels I needed,” she said. “If I would have known about [ESOL] classes before I took the test, it would have made a huge difference for me.”

She has since retaken the placement exam and will begin taking classes in the spring toward her degree plan to become a teacher.

“ESOL teachers are wonderful teachers,” Estevez said. “They have patience.”

Second-year student Mario Martinez also had a hard time with the assessment.

“I couldn’t write a simple essay,” he said. “Ms. Mary [Cinatl] is great. She helped me a lot.”

To enroll in ESOL courses, students should meet with an academic advisor. For more information, they can contact an ESOL advisor at 817-515-6901.

“Often, ESOL students are proficient in their native language, and it speaks so highly of their drive to seek higher education in English,” Biber said. “ESOL courses are an avenue to reach that goal with the additional language support — including listening and speaking skills.”

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