SMC Offers Free ESL Courses

After its cancellation two years ago, Santa Monica College is ready to bring back free ESL classes.
The Santa Monica College Continuing and Community Education Program is offering seven ESL classes during the summer, beginning on July 5.
Due to budget cuts, the program had to be terminated in 2003, said Erica LeBlanc, assistant dean of continuing and community education.
"We had a huge enrollment," said Barbara Bickerton, department secretary. "But due to the budget cuts, students had to go elsewhere." She said the program will be started in the summer and they are hoping to make it grow during the fall.
In the fall, the program will offer additional classes. However, because it has been absent for two years, many who might be interested might not know about the return of free classes, and enrollment in the summer might not be as big as it was before.
"I wasn't aware of it. I think it's a good idea," said Yashaki Yoshida, a student in the ESL program.
"We will be putting up fliers to publicize the information," said LeBlanc.
The free ESL classes, however, are not limited to SMC students. "Everyone is welcomed. Everyone can benefit," said LeBlanc. "We're hoping to expand in other areas-in basic skills and in the future offer short-term vocational programs."
The courses the Santa Monica College Continuing and Community Education Program will be offering are non-credit. The free courses are intended to aid people who don't yet qualify for the regular ESL courses at SMC. The courses will focus on basic English skills, listening, writing and conversation skills.
"These are non-credit courses and are for students thinking of starting at SMC in a year," said Kathy Sucher, an ESL professor at SMC.
Although the program is part of SMC, it differs from the for-credit ESL program at SMC in that it requires a different registration process and the courses are non-credit. Also, all the summer courses will be offered at the Airport Campus.
"We're very excited that the program is being offered again. It allows people to be home at SMC, learn about the college if they decide to enroll later on," said Sucher.