Woodland Community College is a small college located near Sacramento, California. Our ESOL program is very small, serving below 200 students. For the past few years, the program has been orphaned since the last full-time faculty retired. In 2017, the college hired an ESL Resource Faculty on AEBG funding to completely redesign the program. The new accelerated program will be fully launched in Fall 2019.
Woodland Community College
Accelerated Program Design
Woodland’s accelerated ESOL program is, in many ways, fashioned after Cuyamaca’s accelerated program. However, we had some unique constraints that have caused the final product to look a bit different, but the overall aim is the same, to provide a sequence that lets capable students move faster while still providing support for students who need more time.
Our program consists of a noncredit Saturday program that is aligned with our local adult school and a credit/noncredit mirrored accelerated academic ESOL sequence. Woodland has historically had Saturday classes, and they have always been popular. I have kept them to support students who can’t attend classes during the week at the adult school but who need a lower level. Our weekend program is designed primarily for students who don’t have a lot of time and who aren’t planning to pursue a degree. The courses are open entry/open exit. We have CDCP certificates currently working their way through state approval. Students in the Saturday classes are encouraged to jump to our academic program when they feel ready to take on the more demanding coursework. It’s not necessary for them to complete all four levels before starting the lowest accelerated level.
Our academic program has three accelerated levels that unite reading, writing, discussion, and grammar around a relevant central theme. Upon completing our top level, students can enter transfer level composition. Some students will be able to complete the sequence in 3 semesters, others in more, depending on each student’s needs. The credit courses are pass/no pass. The benefit of this is that a no pass won’t negatively affect a student’s GPA. Taking the noncredit version is an option for a student who receives a pass but doesn’t feel confident to succeed in the next level.
Each of our academic courses are hybrid and are currently scheduled with 5 units in class and 1 unit online. This allows for students to become familiar with technology and utilize a different modality for learning.
For each level, there will be a corequisite support course starting in Fall 2019. The noncredit versions of the support courses will be open entry/open exit. This will allow students to opt-in mid-semester if they realize they’re struggling and need more support and class time.
The three levels below support will be a 3-unit contextualized grammar course that uses the reading from the core course as a starting place to look at grammar. I took this idea from Cuyamaca’s grammar corequisite courses. For the one and two levels below transfer courses, the corequisite course is a 2-unit content support corequisite that will be focused on what students are struggling with in the core course, which of course will vary from semester to semester.
We will also offer a 1-unit open lab course that encompasses all three levels. This course will be taught in a computer lab and will be a place for students to work on assignments and topics related to the core courses they’re taking. The lab instructor will help answer questions and provide students with activities and resources for what they’re working on. This course is also open to nonnative speakers taking transfer-level English as an added support.
You can see two visuals of our accelerated academic ESOL sequence below. The first one shows the sequence flow and courses, and the second one shows the repeatable nature of the sequence.
Each accelerated class at Woodland Community College will be based on a central guiding theme and inquiry question. Students will read about, talk about, and write about things related to the theme. Student collaboration and engagement will be a focus, and everything will be contextualized.
Woodland Community College is piloting the use of a guided self-placement website to use for placement in our ESOL program. Students will complete several steps on a website to help them select a level.
Questions and Answers
What level are students at when they enter the sequence?
Since we’re piloting a guided self-placement, this will vary slightly. We do have four noncredit levels preceding the academic sequence that we offer on Saturdays, but a student isn’t required to complete all before jumping to the accelerated sequence. The third level below transfer is geared for high beginning/ low intermediate.
What happens when you have true beginners show up to your program.
They will either take our beginning-level class on Saturday or will take a class at the local adult school who we’re partnering with.
How is grammar addressed in your sequence?
Grammar is taught in context in a just-in-time fashion. If students are struggling with something that they need for an assignment, then that grammar will be practiced in the core course. Grammar is not the main focus of the course. The task is the main focus, and when grammar is needed to complete the task, then it’s tackled in the context of the assignment. I think this is a much more motivational way to approach grammar than to learn endless topics (often abstract ones) without a purpose or context.
As I mentioned above, the courses will also have a hybrid option. I anticipate the online time being a great place to put extra grammar support for those students who are struggling with a particular topic. There are also corequisite support courses that will provide support for the core course. This will also be a place that needed grammar topics will be covered.
Finally, we are creating online Canvas modules that will be available to all students through our student success center. We’re targeting commonly confused topics that are also relevant to what students need to do in a composition course. If a teacher notices that a student is struggling with a topic, then he/she can recommend to the student to check out the module. We’re also going to provide students with a grammar reference packet, so they can reference topics when they need to.
Have you considered adding a transfer-level ESL composition course as the last course in your sequence?
I don’t see that as a direction we’ll move in. I think it could work well for some programs, but we’re a small school. I do think that once we get the rest of the program going, we’ll explore offering a transfer-level English course that’s labeled to be for multilingual students. It would be taught by someone who has minimum quals in both ESL and English.