Academic English as a Second Language Program (ESL)

Since 1991, we have served more than 1,000 English learners 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.

We focus on helping our students improve their reading, writing, listening, speaking, as well as develop their study skills.

Students who complete the Academic ESL program:

  • Read, write, listen, speak to succeed in academic and vocational classes.
  • Develop study skills to succeed in academic and vocational classes.
  • Work with online classes.
Earn a Certificate of Proficiency

Graduation and Transition Ceremony

In May, we honor students who have completed the advanced level. On the same day as the college graduation, the ESL Graduation Ceremony is held in the morning for friends and family to celebrate your accomplishments. The college administration, including the president and members of the board, as well as college faculty and staff join together to honor the students completing the Adult Education ESL Program and Academic ESL Program.

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. For more information about ESL classes, please call 309-796-5183.

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