The ESL Academy at the University of Colorado Denver prepares students in English language fluency and helps these students pursue a degree upon completion of the ESL Academy program. As students progress in the ESL program, they are eligible to enroll in one or two courses on the main campus for credit. This concurrent enrollment in the ESL Academy and in a university course or two enables them to get a head-start on university academics while engaging in American cultural standards, building on-campus social connections and receiving support from the ESL staff1.

If your career college is thinking about offering ELLs the opportunity to enroll in a concurrent ESL program at your school, here are five compelling reasons to do so.

Create an On-Ramp to Higher Education

ELLs face a multitude of challenges out in the world, from not understanding the language and feeling out of place culturally to trouble solving problems and drawing conclusions. As these ELL students work to overcome these obstacles, they may not even consider a college education to be a realistic option. A concurrent program designed for ELLs helps these individuals learn the English language while staying mindful of the next step in education. Through frequent interaction with faculty and other students, they become less intimidated by college.

Experience College-Level Coursework

A concurrent ESL program eases ELLs into the rigors of college-level coursework. It prepares them for a more intense college experience while reducing full-on college culture shock. Without this graduated approach, first-year students may get overwhelmed and eventually drop out.

Enrich Learning Experiences

A dual enrollment program enables students to maximize their learning experiences. Takeaways from lessons in grammar, listening and speaking skills, and reading, writing and vocabulary can be directly applied to the career course they are taking. The career college course not only educates the student with jobs skills training and specialized trade knowledge for a specific field, but it also serves as a forum to apply and practice what's learned in the ESL classroom. In addition, an ESL dual enrollment program enriches the ELL's student life socially and culturally. It benefits them beyond academics.

Accelerate College and Career Pathways

One of the most beneficial features of a concurrent program is the opportunity to earn college credits while ramping up on one's English language skills. ELLs can continue to learn ESL curriculum while they take career-oriented coursework at the college level, enabling them to advance their education. A concurrent program also serves as an experience for experimentation - students can explore their program of study or area of interest to ensure it's the right fit for their future. This enables students to feel more confident about their studies and career path and to put their college experience on a faster track if they choose.

Enter the Workforce Sooner

By achieving their academic goals quicker, students can look for a job and find employment in their field sooner. The benefits here are two-fold: It helps mitigate the skilled labor shortage the labor market is currently experiencing, and it enables ELLs to learn the language, gain the necessary skills for an in-demand occupation and start to earn an income, all in less time than it would at a college career that did not offer dual-enrollment opportunities.

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Resources: Photo credit. (1) University of Denver ESL Concurrent Enrollment