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ACCC Drops ESL Tuition Classes

By Rick Racela

COURT HOUSE – Atlantic Cape Community College has dropped English as a Second Language (ESL), a credited course, from its fall semester at the Cape May County Campus, citing low enrollment.
“To my knowledge, we didn’t test one student for placement and no one registered for the course,” said Christina Cavage, chair of the ESL program. “We were even prepared to offer whatever was needed in the community including basic classes.”
She said that there are approximately 710 students enrolled in courses at the Atlantic City Campus.
Based on the success of the program in Atlantic City and Mays Landing, she said, the col-lege originally tried to design the course in this county for students with intermediate knowledge of the language who were interested in pursuing an academic career and pursue a degree.
There are three levels or required courses that focus on reading, writing, listening, speak-ing, and knowledge of American culture. The cost of classes is based on a per-credit rate and most classes are three to six credits.
Cavage told the Herald that the course probably should have been marketed to county residents earlier in the year. The ESL department is currently working on a brochure that will detail course descriptions so that interested students can determine if the program is right for them.
“This course is intensive with about 60 percent of the students continuing their academic career as opposed to an ESL program that focuses on life skills and work force training,” she said.
Cavage said that other community programs might be better suited for persons interested in starting their proficiency in the English language.
Lower Cape May Richard M. Teitelman School is just starting a free beginning and inter-mediate class for speakers of other languages.
Eddy Tormey, an ESL instructor at the school, said that she witnesses many younger stu-dents being able to integrate into the language but sees many of their parents struggling.
“A class like this is perfect for an older generation that feels like they are isolated because of a language barrier,” said Tormey, who has taught ESL programs for six years.
Tormey said that she wants to help people learn English in a non-threatening manner.
“The class is flexible and not as intense as a college program. You can miss a class and come back the next session and not feel penalized,” she said.
She said that students will have the benefit of two instructors interacting in the classroom. David Tormey, who taught English in China for four years, will be the second instructor.
“The student will hear real interaction between English speakers, not just one teacher speaking in front of the class,” she said.
Classes started at the Teitelman School yesterday and run through mid-May. Currently it has seven to 10 students enrolled; officials expected a number of walk-ins on the first day.
Cape May County Technical School District received a grant that funds ESL classes for county residents. Classes are free and are held in 16 locations around the county at a variety of time to help make instruction “as convenient as possible.”
The goal is to “help students assimilate in the community, prepare for job training, or have improved opportunities in their current employment,” according to officials.
According to school officials, approximately 100 students are enrolled who speak Spanish, Russian, a variety of Chinese dialects, Portuguese, and several Eastern European languages.
Cavage said that the demographics in an ESL classroom are changing as well.
“There is a misconception that ESL courses are only for Hispanic speaking people. That’s definitely not true,” she said.
“A few years ago, we had about 70 to 80 percent Hispanic students, now that has dropped to about 50 percent. There are a lot of students from Bulgaria, various parts of Eastern Europe, and a large increase of people from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and India,” said Cavage.
According to state demographic studies, as of 2004, 6.6 percent of the county’s population speaks a language other than English in the home.
Cavage said that she hasn’t heard when ACCC would next attempt to offer the program at the Court House campus.
Students looking for more information in taking classes ESL classes at ACCC should contact 343-4878.
Contact Huggins at: lhuggins@cmcherald.com

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