AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - Amarillo College (AC) is seeing a continuing increase of diverse students and those who want to improve their English speaking skills.
And AC's English as a Second Language (ESL) classes are helping those students succeed.
ESL coordinator, Matthew Piech, said there are about 432 students enrolled in ESL throughout all campuses in the Texas Panhandle and is seeing an increase in interest.
During their last academic year, about 830 students have advanced within ESL, and that number is expected to increase even further before the end of June 2018.
"We have multiple levels and students are basically placed by their lowest functioning level," said Piech. "We provide instruction in listening, reading, speaking, writing along with grammar, and we have students progress through all levels."
Once a student reaches advanced English levels, they will then meet with an academic adviser who will help them transition into other AC class or adults education programs.
AC has about 25 instructors who will work with these students Monday through Thursday, each week and have students attending from Burma, China Cuba, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey.
"You can imagine the first time they are in class, it is very intimidating," said AC Instructor, Ronetta Urton. "It's scary. They are afraid they will say something incorrectly. But as the class begins, I explain to them that we are all here to learn, we are here to be a family and eventually they start to visit with one another and we start visiting the different cultures and use that within our lessons."
Martena Aldaco is a student from Mexico who has been enrolled in ESL classes for about seven months.
She said learning English has not only saved her life by helping her to communicate with physicians in the United States, but it is now helping her advance her education so she can purpose a career in nursing.
"I am doing better in writing and the better I communicate with people then the better I can help the society," said Aldaco. "I don't just want to be apart of the Mexican or Latin people, I also want to be recognized as someone who can help improve lives. I love to help people, especially the elderly, and I want to be an RN (Registered Nurse)."
ESL is open to all students who qualify for free due to a Texas Workforce Commission grant.
To qualify for ESL, a student must demonstrate a minimum understanding of English with an ability to at least write sentences.
There is also a workforce model of the class in the early works to help introduce students into the local workforce.
If you are interested to learn more about the program and registration, you can visit the AC website.