English as a Second Language (ESL)
English as second language instruction can benefit non-native English speakers, regardless of language group or nationality. Gaining confidence in written and spoken English skills can be critical to your college and workforce success.
ECC’s English as a Second Language (ESL) program focuses on reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Courses are offered day and evening at the Elgin Community College Campus and satellite locations.
- As a student, you will be supported to gain English language fluency for success in school and at work.
- Courses are offered day and evening at several locations, including the Elgin, Carpentersville, Streamwood, and the Hanover Park Education and Work Center.
- All classes are provided free of charge to eligible immigrant students.
- A placement test is required.
Part-Time ESL Programs
Courses offered at the beginning literacy, low beginning, and high beginning levels equip students with basic survival English skills. Upon completing the high beginning level, students can function in familiar social situations, make inquiries related to everyday activities, express opinions, write simple sentences, and read familiar texts.
- Who should attend: Non-native English speakers from any language group or nationality.
Courses offered at the low and high intermediate levels prepare students for higher-level education or employment opportunities. Upon completing the high intermediate level, students may exit the program, continue to advanced ESL, enroll in the intensive ESL program, or transition into other college courses, as appropriate. An academic advisor is available to help students make the transition. Classes are offered free of charge to qualifying students.
- Who should attend: Non-native English speakers from any language group or nationality wish to prepare for higher-level education or employment opportunities.
Courses offered at the advanced level prepare students for entrance into college-level classes. Upon completing the advanced level, students can read and write to ensure success in college-level English courses. They can receive free in-district tuition for one, three-credit-hour college classes to help them achieve their educational and career-related goals. A student services specialist is available to help students transition to college-level English.
- Who should attend: Non-native English speakers from any language group or nationality who wish to prepare for entrance into college-level classes.
If you currently hold a student visa, you may not enroll in the ESL Program but should consider our Intensive English Program for students who would like to begin a degree or certificate program at ECC. All other students on certain visas are not permitted to join the free adult education program.
Please fill out our inquiry form to receive more information about how to register for ABE/ASE classes.
There are several differences between the two programs.
- Eligibility: All students are eligible for the Intensive English Program but must have a certain level of proficiency to enter. It is appropriate for students on an F-1 visa. Only Illinois residents are eligible for the part-time Adult Basic Education program. Also, because the part-time program is partially funded by federal grant monies, individuals on certain types of visas are not eligible due to visa restrictions (e.g., visitor visas, student visas, au pairs).
- Cost: The Intensive English Program charges tuition for its classes. Part-time Adult Basic Education ESL classes are free to eligible students.
- Time: The Intensive English Program is full-time (although students may opt for part-time within the program). It only offers daytime classes. The Adult Basic Education part-time program meets 5-6 hours per week. Classes typically meet two days a week (Monday and Wednesday or Tuesday and Thursday). It offers both morning and evening classes.
- Class start dates and number of weeks: The Intensive English program has multiple start dates throughout the year and consists of 4-week sessions (fall/spring) or 5-week summer workshops. The part-time Adult Basic Education ESL program starts in August/September, January/February, and April. The classes are 10-16 weeks long.
- Location: The Intensive English Program is offered at the Elgin campus only. The part-time Adult Basic Education program offers both in-person and online classes. In-person classes are available at a variety of locations, including Elgin, Hanover Park, Carpentersville, and (starting fall 2022) Burlington.
- Levels: The Intensive English Program has three levels and requires a minimum understanding of English to qualify for the program. The part-time Adult Basic Education ESL program has 9 levels and serves students with no English proficiency through pre-college.
- Registration process: Intensive English Program enrollment is always open. Come to Building C, Room C221, or call 847-214-7163. A placement test is required for all new students. For the part-time Adult Basic Education ESL program, come to building K to the front reception desk or complete this online form to start the process.
To register for our part-time Adult Basic Education ESL classes, please do the following. Please note that you are not registered for classes until you complete all of the steps.
Step 2: Come to the front desk in Building K at 410 Renner Drive in Elgin 60123. Bring a photo ID (driver’s license, state ID, or government-issued ID). Bring your DHS medical card or your LINK card if you receive public assistance. Keep in mind, the college is closed on Fridays during the summer.
NOTE: Current high school students are not eligible for ESL classes. Individuals on temporary or visitor visas are also not eligible for the program.
Step 3: Schedule a pre-test. The test may take up to three hours. Return to building K once you have completed the pre-test.
Step 4: Schedule an orientation. Students who have attended an ESL orientation recently may not be required to attend another orientation. This may last up to three hours. You will do placement within the program at the orientation, so this is a requirement for all new students.
Step 5: Upon completing orientation, you will need to return to the Front Desk in Building K to register for your class. You will select the days, times, and locations of your classes. You are not registered for classes until you complete this step.
For more information about signing up for classes, email ABECRegistration@elgin.edu or call 847-214-6904.
This full-time academic program for all English language learners is ideal for learning English through immersion. Students interested in the Intensive English Program should call 847-214-7163 or email email@example.com for registration information. Please go to the Intensive English Program’s webpage for more information.
All part-time ESL classes are free for eligible students. Students on certain types of visas cannot take Adult Basic Education classes. There are nine levels in the part-time program, which serves students who do not know any English all the way through to college readiness in English. All students are assessed and placed according to their abilities upon entry to the program.
The Intensive English Program is full-time and only offers daytime classes.
The Intensive English Program is offered in person only. There are remote (online) options for the part-time Adult Basic Education program. These classes employ a combination of a live class via Zoom (or other video conferencing tool) and independent online work via the college learning management platform (D2L).
While it is not a requirement for in-person classes, it is strongly recommended for intermediate and advanced students to access a computer or tablet to do additional work at home. Students may use computer labs on campus if they do not have access at home. If a student selects an online class, they may borrow a Chromebook from the ECC library.
Approximately $612,638 (36%) of the Illinois Adult Education and Literacy Program cost at Elgin Community College is federally funded under Title II, Adult Education and Family Literacy of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014.