Q1. What do I need to do to get into an ESL class?

Q2.  Can I skip to a higher level ESL course?

We do not recommend that anyone skip courses. If you skip courses, you will have a weak foundation in English, and this could hurt you for the rest of your educational and/or professional career.  If a teacher sees that your skills are significantly better than those of the other students in your class, he/she will recommend that you go to a higher class and arrange it for you. 

Q3. Can I take other classes, besides ESL?

Yes, but we recommend that you concentrate on improving your English first, since that will help you succeed in the other classes. If you take other classes, you need to choose them carefully. If you are in the ESL 181/981 level, we do not recommend that you take any non-ESL classes except for P.E. (physical education/sports classes). Students whose ESL level is 182/982 (or above) sometimes enroll and succeed in math or art classes. At the 183/983 and 184/984 levels, students sometimes succeed in a variety of other courses, depending on the students' background. However, in the class schedule, you will see that some classes have "prerequisite" courses and others have "advisory" courses. If you have not taken a course's prerequisite, you cannot register for it. If a course has an advisory course, it means that the instructors advise or recommend that you complete the advisory course first, but it is not required.

Q4. How many classes should I take?

It depends on your schedule (whether you work, have a family, etc.). Each class will require homework, and the amount of homework may be as much as two hours for each hour spent in the classroom. Thus, if you take 10 units of ESL, you may need to spend about 20 hours a week outside of class (in addition to class time) studying and doing homework.

Q5. What do I take after I finish my ESL classes?

It depends on your goals and interests. Generally, if you plan to get a degree or certificate, you will need to continue studying English in the English Department, which is not the same as the ESL Department.  When you have completed ESL-184RW/984RW, you can consider any of these courses:  English 151RW (5 units, combined reading and writing, pre-transfer level), English 151B (4 units, writing only), 163 (4 units, reading only), or English 101A + 101AX (transfer-level English Composition, with a 2-unit noncredit support course).

Q6. How can I improve my speaking skills?

  1. Make friends with people who don't speak your language! They can be classmates, neighbors, or anyone. Meet people by joining a club meeting, attending a church group, becoming a volunteer somewhere, etc.
  2. Join an English Conversation Group in the English Learning Center. Go to the main counter and ask for a sign-up sheet for a Conversation Group. The group will be led by an Ohlone College student who is fluent in English.
  3. Think in English! Whether you're driving, doing housework, exercising, or whatever, try thinking in English. This will make it easier for you to recall the words you need to speak in English.
  4. Schedule times and places in which you will speak ONLY English.

Q7. How can I improve my writing skills?

  1. Do your assigned homework - exercises, paragraphs, and essays - carefully!
  2. Do extra reading and writing - about any topic that is interesting to you.
  3. Pay attention to the structure of the sentences you read. Analyze their grammar.
  4. Use websites recommended by your teachers. 

Q8. How can I improve my grammar?

  1. Take our ESL Reading/Writing courses.  These courses include grammar instruction. The ESL Listening/Speaking courses will also include some grammar as it relates to speaking English correctly.
  2. Use ESL websites for grammar practice.

Q9. What should I do to improve my English most quickly?

  • Use English as much as possible in your daily life.
  • Become a full-time ESL student.
  • Never be afraid to speak English. Don't worry about making mistakes. You learn by practicing!
  • Ask questions. When someone uses a word or phrase in English that's not familiar to you, ask a question, and use it as a learning opportunity.
  • Keep a list of new words and phrases that you want to remember. Carry a small notebook for this purpose.
  • Review what you have learned frequently.
  • Use websites to help you improve your English.

Q10. What should I read to improve my English?

  1. Books from the ESL Collection in the Ohlone Library.
  2. Books and other materials in the English Learning Center
  3. Websites designed for ESL students
  4. Books from the Children's Collection at the Fremont City Library
  5. Reader's Digest, a monthly magazine
  6. Adapted and simplified novels
  7. Anything that is interesting and not too difficult for you (so that you will enjoy reading and read more!)

Q11. Can I get a tutor to help me with my English?

The English Learning Center hires and trains Ohlone College students who are proficient in English to tutor other students. You can meet with a tutor once a week for no charge. Drop-in tutoring is also available at certain times. Go to the main desk at the English Learning Center for more details and to sign up.