“I am taking the ESL classes to improve my English and focus on my principle goal, which is getting a bachelor’s degree.”

Urielle
Student

Academic English as a Second Language Program (ESL)

Since 1991, we have served more than 1,000 international and ESL, EFL, and ELL students from around the world in our Academic ESL Program. Our students are refugees, student-visa holders, businessmen and businesswomen, and visiting scholars.

We are an accredited program with a strong reputation for excellence and innovation. ESL faculty members and staff are committed to preparing our students to be competitive with their American counterparts in vocational and academic programs and in the workforce.


Students who complete the ACADEMIC ESL program

  • Learn reading, writing, listening, speaking and study skills to succeed in academic and vocational classes.
  • Learn about the U.S. university system and how to transfer to other programs.
  • Successfully work with online classes and web-enhanced college-level classes.
  • Learn how to use the library system on campus and in the surrounding area.
  • Meet important people on campus who can continue to help them after they graduate.
Earn a Certificate of Proficiency» Graduation and Transition Ceremony »

Get started

Before you begin the program, you will take the language placement test. The score that you receive on this test will help us figure out which classes would be most helpful for you in reaching your goals.

ESL Testing & Placement »

Frequently Asked Questions

Academic ESL Program

We try to keep our class size to about 15 students so you can get personal attention from your instructor and easily work with classmates.

Most of the classes in the Academic ESL Program are developmental courses. This means that students take these classes to prepare them to take college-level classes, so students do not receive academic credit for these classes. But if you take ESL 078/COMM 100 or ESL 072/COMM 105, you will receive academic credits for these classes while enrolled in the Academic ESL Program.

You can begin the Academic ESL Program at three times during the year:

  • The fall semester begins in August and ends in December.
  • The spring semester begins in January and ends in May.
  • The summer session begins in June and ends in July. This is an intensive six-week session.

Eligible permanent residents or citizens may apply for financial aid to pay for tuition and possibly books. Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine eligibility. Some limited scholarships are available for ESL students through the Black Hawk College Foundation.

Yes. The classes in the Academic ESL Program are five-credit-hour classes, so students need to pay tuition based on the current per-credit-hour fee.

The number of classes that you have to take will depend on the type of program and the major that you choose. In general, students who choose to take certificate programs or two-year vocational programs should complete the classes in Level 6 (Intermediate courses). However, students who want to complete associate degrees or transfer programs should complete Level 7 (Advanced courses).

Before you enroll in the ESL Program, you will be given a language placement test. Your level is determined by your score on the test.

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BHC STUDENTS FROM AROUND THE WORLD