SJCC’s ESL Program — Fantastic and Free English Classes

Are you learning English for the first time? Looking for free English classes that are convenient for you?

At San José City College we offer an incredible English as a Second Language (ESL) Program with extensive opportunities. Our ESL Department gives you the tools to thrive in any class or situation where English is required, so that you can make your academic and even your personal goals come true. 

Keep reading to learn more about free English classes and everything else our incredible ESL Program has to offer. 

“I liked this college because I felt the kindness of its teachers and students. Everyone I met was friendly. I have a good network now.”

Bashir Mire, SJCC student
ESL students participate in Asian Pacific Heritage Month at San José City College.
ESL students participate in Asian Pacific Heritage Month at SJCC.

What Does SJCC’s ESL Program Offer Students?

First of all, you’re probably wondering about those free English classes. And we have good news.

Anyone is eligible to take free non-credit courses at SJCC with the ESL Department. To take non-credit classes, students don’t have to take the ESL Placement test. They can simply fill out the non-credit application and enroll in any non-credit class. (Email your application to: sjcc.admissions@sjcc.edu).

To take for credit ESL classes, the ESL Department recommends students take the placement test so that they can take the right courses to reach their goals.

ESL classes typically meet two times a week, but the ESL Department offers some Saturday classes as well. And you also get access to additional resources like free assistance with reading and writing assignments (for any subject) at the ESL Lab, and so much more.

That’s the how, now let’s talk about why.

Learn English to Achieve Your Goals

Every student has their own unique reasons to learn English. 

ESL stands for English as a Second Language. But in fact, many of our ESL students already know a second language. Some are learning a third, fourth, (or even fifth) language. And we value each and every one of the unique cultures that students bring to campus.

Whether you’d like to be more confident writing emails at your job or improve your grade in a biology class, the ESL Program can help you. 

Improve Your English to Gain Opportunities

No matter what your motivations, improving your English skills has the power to change your life in many ways, through increased opportunities in employment, education, and even personal lives.

“We help students to improve their English skills so that they can move forward to transfer, earn degrees, or certificates,” said long-time faculty member, Leslie Rice. “We also help them to pursue better jobs and, overall, better communication within our schools, our medical system, and more.” 

Zerrin Erkal, another dedicated ESL faculty member, said “In all levels of our classes, we are helping our students to learn the language and the skills to be ready for academic success and to be active participants of our society.”

Rice went on to say, “SJCC’s ESL Department is committed to each individual student’s success. The teachers listen carefully to each student’s goals and academic dreams.” 

Improve Your English to Gain Confidence

Increased confidence is a less measurable result, but it is truly one of the most significant benefits of learning English for many students. Confidence in communication has the ability to greatly impact our lives. Because it is so closely linked to our effectiveness and self-esteem. 

“Before I started at SJCC I had no confidence talking to people and I barely read full sentences,” said Meseret Alemu, an ESL student and an aspiring nursing assistant. “But now I am helping others.”

“My writing skills are much improved after I finished the ESL program at SJCC, which helps me be more confident,” said Trang Lam, who is studying Computer Information Systems.

This sense of confidence and enhanced communication skills allows students to more easily connect with their peers and enjoy the close-knit community at SJCC.

“Before I started at SJCC I had no confidence talking to people and I barely read full sentences. […] But now I am helping others.”

Meseret Alemu, SJCC student 
SJCC students Meseret Alemu and Mulugeta Girmay in an ESL classroom at San José City College.
SJCC students Meseret Alemu and Mulugeta Girmay in an ESL classroom at San José City College.

ESL Classes Are Essential for a Multilingual Campus 

One of SJCC’s greatest strengths as a vibrant Bay Area community college is its diverse student population.

Our campus is proudly multicultural and multilingual too. We serve international students, immigrants, first generation college students, and even returning students with English language needs.

“From the Census of 2010, we learned that 51% of Santa Clara County residents spoke a language other than English at home,” Rice said. “A strong ESL Program is absolutely essential to a healthy, successful South Bay Area campus and community.  We – the ESL Program – bring and motivate our community members to join our campus family.” 

“With a strong ESL program, we can support our students to reach their goals and make their dreams come true,” said Erkal, who is a second language learner herself. “We have multilingual and multicultural students in our classes. Being in these classes with these students is a very valuable experience for us teachers.” 

“We have multilingual and multicultural students in our classes. Being in these classes with these students is a very valuable experience for us teachers.”

Zerrin Erkal, SJCC ESL faculty
English Language faculty at San José City College. From left to right (front row): Yevgeniya Sokolenko, Dongmei Cao, Zerrin Erkal, Heather Jellison, (back row): Patricia do Carmo and Leslie Rice.
SJCC ESL faculty. From left to right (front row): Yevgeniya Sokolenko, Dongmei Cao, Zerrin Erkal, Heather Jellison, (back row): Patricia do Carmo and Leslie Rice.

The ESL Lab Offers Opportunities & Community

The ESL Lab is a place to study English. But it’s so much more than that.

“The ESL Lab provides essential and meaningful academic support to English learners, especially because our students come from such varied backgrounds,” said ESL Lab Coordinator, Patricia do Carmo.

It’s the central hub of ESL the Program, its home base. It’s where you can come together in community and lean on supportive faculty and peers.

ESL Lab Resources

Anyone who is enrolled in at least one course at SJCC and would like access to the ESL Lab’s resources can take the free 0-unit ESL 508 Lab class with the ESL Department. Here’s what you’ll find in the there:

  • Free 1-1 tutoring sessions with faculty or peer tutors
  • English language workshops that focus on a variety of topics (vocabulary, reading, writing, pronunciation, conversation, and more)
  • 34 computers with headsets
  • Study materials like dictionaries, grammar software, and more

These extensive resources, combined with a truly supportive and passionate staff, help ESL students thrive at SJCC.

“I learned a lot, and I know I will learn more,” said Bashir Mire, an ESL student who successfully completed an HVAC Certificate at SJCC and is currently pursuing a two year degree. “I liked this college because I felt the kindness of its teachers and students. Everyone I met was friendly. I have a good network now.” 

Additional Opportunities for ESL Students

It’s this network that has the potential to open many doors. And sooner than you’d think.

“Advanced ESL students are often recommended to work as trained tutors in our Reading and Writing Center and our ESL lab,” Said Rice. “This tutoring experience has helped many students earn an income while still attending classes at SJCC. It has also helped many become tutors after they transfer. These trained tutors have learned valuable communication skills that have helped many of them to excel both at SJCC and beyond.” 

We are also happy to report that the vast majority of ESL classes, tools, and resources have been smoothly transitioned online during the COVID-19 pandemic. And once the campus re-opens, the ESL Lab will resume its role as an important community space.

Learn English at San José City College

So make today the last time you Google “free English classes near me,” and join the SJCC family. Our ESL Program can provide you with the tools, support, and community you need to help make your dreams a reality.

For more free academic and financial resources, check out our Learning Resource Center and SparkPoint San José.