Houston Community College offers a full-time non-credit Intensive English Program (IEP) for students who need to improve their language ability before beginning full-time study in a college degree program. The Intensive English Program is also intended for those who want to study English for career or social purposes. The program consists of two ESOL levels: Advanced-Intermediate and Advanced. The core courses of both levels include the following four skill areas: grammar, reading, writing, and listening and speaking skills.

Most students who complete the advanced ESOL level will continue on to ESOL 0360. This course helps ESOL students prepare for American core academic college courses. Students learn composition (comp) skills for writing in a variety of academic classes, such as in the humanities, social sciences, and business. ESOL 0360 is the exit-level comp class for non-native speakers who plan to continue their education and earn a college degree. After passing this course, students should be ready to take ENGL 1301 (freshman comp), and to successfully complete other college courses as well as any state-mandated writing assessment designed to measure college readiness, such as TSI.

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Program Information

About English as a Second Language (ESL)

The majority of students have finished high school and have studied some English in their native country. Some students have completed high school in the United States but are not quite ready to take college-level English courses. Other students have completed the four levels in the Intensive English Program but are not quite ready for college-level course work. Students must commit to a 16-week (10-week summer) semester in a program with mandatory attendance. Courses generally meet twice a week for four to five hours per week.

The ESL Program is incredibly diverse, enrolling students from over 80 countries, who speak over 30 native languages. In addition to teaching them English, the ESL Program introduces these students to US culture and education by field trips, celebration of US holidays, bringing guest lecturers to campus, and integrating students as much as possible in the college life of a US community college.

Academic ESL classes take place during fall, spring, and summer semesters:

  • Fall semester - August to December
  • Spring semester - January to May
  • Summer semester - June to August

Students who test in at lower levels (beginners and intermediate) will need to take ESL classes in the Continuing Education Program (link).

Mission Statement

The mission of Houston Community College's Intensive English Program is to provide an effective learning community in which non-native speakers of English can acquire the language, critical thinking, and cross-cultural skills that will enable them to succeed in their academic, workplace, and personal goals.

Intensive English ESL Program Statement of Purpose

The Intensive English ESL program is a program of concentrated study of English which seeks to serve the needs of students who are planning to continue their education. The program aims to serve not only international students who hod student visas, but also that vast majority of non-native English speakers who are permanent residents or citizens. The program is not simply a collection of individual courses; rather it seeks to enhance the students' language learning experience by creating a learning community of students and teachers who spend a substantial portion of their academic time together. At the end of their study in Intensive English, students are qualified to take academic classes, as warranted by basic skills placement testing.

Programs Goals

The goals of the Intensive English ESL Program are as follows:

  • To provide our students with the highest quality of instruction
  • To create a student-centered learning environment
  • To use advanced technology as a component of effective English instruction
  • To use teaching methods which empower students to become the primary agents of their learning, to help them identify their individual learning strengths and needs, and to give them access to the tools and resources for meeting those needs
  • To assist our students in setting learning goals and in managing time in a way that makes language development possible
  • To prepare our students for effective communication in English in both oral and literate skills in academic, workplace, and social settings
  • To prepare our students to function effectively in a multi-cultural society
  • To enable students to use advanced technology and other resources that will assist them in accomplishing their purposes for studying in our program as well as for their future endeavors
  • To facilitate our students’ adjustment to the academic policies and procedures in U.S. higher education, including at Houston Community College.

What is the difference between IEP and ESL?

The Intensive English Program (IEP) offers English as a Second Language (ESL) courses for students who need to improve their language ability before beginning full-time study in a college degree program.

Continuing Education Programs

Continuing Education certificates offer contact hours, not academic credit. One Continuing Education Unit, or CEU, is 10 contact hours of successful participation/completion in an organized continuing education experience under responsible sponsorship, capable direction and qualified instruction. CEUs are not substituted for college credit hours, but rather are a means of reporting continuing education activities. Transcripts listing CEU credits satisfactorily completed are available on request. CEUs are recognized internationally as a measure of substantial professional education and training.

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