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English as a Second Language (ESL)

NOVA’s College ESL program teaches students from all over the world. Many of our students are immigrants to the U.S. who live in Northern Virginia. We also teach students who come to the College on student visas. In addition, we enroll other visitors to the area who have diplomatic or other short-term visa status. The primary goal of College ESL is to get you ready to succeed in college-level classes. We help you build your academic literacy and critical thinking skills. We also help you develop the English language skills you need for jobs and in your everyday life.

Program Details

The primary goal of ESL courses is to get students ready to succeed in college-level classes. Students will develop the English language skills needed for employment and for communication in everyday life. Students will work on your clarity of expression, organization, vocabulary and grammar skills. At lower levels (ESL 2, ESL 3 and in ACLI), students will also practice oral communication skills through listening assignments and oral presentations. Activities vary in difficulty at each level, but the most common activities include: small-group discussions, individual and group presentations on academic topics, writing summaries and responses to fiction and non-fiction texts, writing compositions and essays on topics related to class reading and personal experiences, practicing editing techniques, listening to academic lectures, learning and using research, critical thinking, and test-taking skills.

Transfer Opportunites

In order to learn more about possible transfer opportunities associated with this program of study please visit: https://www.nvcc.edu/transfer/. Students interested in transferring should contact an advisor or counselor to further discuss their plans.

Credit for Prior Learning

Northern Virginia Community College accepts industry-standard certifications, credentials and/or professional courses for credit. Broadly, licenses, credentials and/or certifications must be current and valid for consideration. For more information regarding the status of the certification and its eligibility for credit, please see an advisor or faculty members in the discipline area that awards CPL credit.

The most current information can be found here for CPL: Certifications and Credentials.

Program Degrees and Certificates

Students who are interested in continuing to study English beyond ESL courses and don’t necessarily need to obtain a degree or certificate at NOVA or another institution of higher learning will find our English (ENG) and Communication Studies (CST) classes of value to achieving their goals of improving their communication skills in English. Students should contact the ESL Associate Dean at their campus to discuss what might be best for them. Students should also speak with an advisor about the program of study they are interested in.

Career Prospects

There are simply more job opportunities for people with better communication skills, whether they are native or non-native speakers of English. Students with the prerequisite level of English proficiency may enroll in college credit courses offered at NOVA such as business, psychology, history, or biology. They will be prepared to handle advanced academic readings, have the skills to write papers and essays, and be able to master the course material and pass exams.

Students with a degree from another country that has been accepted by a U.S. university, may wish to achieve proficiency in English to prepare for further study. If you want to continue improving your English skills upon completion of the college ESL courses, you may consider ENG and CST courses. We will be happy to advise you on the choices best for you.

Get Started

Want to get started with this program? Speak with an adviser to start shaping your educational journey at NOVA.

Contact an Advisor