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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

No hablo ingles? No es un problema at California community colleges

Immigrants can find classes in Spanish, Mandarin, Russian, Armenian, Korean and other languages at some California community colleges. They're supposed to take English as a Second Language at the same time. However, under a new law that goes into effect in January, learning English is optional for students in foreign-language classes, reports Michael Burke on EdSource. "Some students have called that requirement a burden because of the extra time commitment."


In a Los Angeles pilot, the non-English courses were in job training classes, such as automotive repair, child care and health care services, writes Burke.


Carmen Ramirez, who studied psychology in Mexico, took basic skills courses in Spanish at East Los Angeles College, she said through a translator. She plans to take ESL classes in the future, even though it will be optional.


Most immigrants will realize they need to learn English, says Gabriel Buelna, a Los Angeles Community College District trustee who pushed to expand career-tech classes in foreign languages. His parents, who came to the U.S. from Mexico, wanted to take business classes but didn't speak English well enough to handle the material.


Buelna wants to see foreign-language instruction expanded to math, biology, literature, and other classes, reports Adolfo Guzman-Lopez on LAist.


Community colleges have lost enrollment. Tapping the large population of immigrant students could help fill the seats and bring in revenue. But I wonder how much students will benefit if they're not encouraged to develop their English skills while they're learning office skills, phlebotomy or car repair.


California's community colleges are doing better at helping immigrants master English and earn college credits, reports the Public Policy Institute of California. "Given the link between English proficiency and access to high-wage jobs, lower levels of unemployment, and greater productivity," the system can hep English Learners "achieve social and economic mobility."

1 Comment


Bruce Smith
Bruce Smith
Nov 19, 2023

It's hard for California's citizens to find sanctuary from the illegal immigration and human trafficking being promoted by our state's Democrats' one-party government: its politicians' incentives are aligned with the continuous violation of the rule of law, the bane these families are fleeing south of our border, which is insidiously invading our side, as well.

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