Why take ESL at SMC?

  • SMC's academic ESL courses will help you succeed in English 1 and other courses to insure your successful graduation from SMC or transfer to a university.

  • SMC's academic ESL courses will help you correct your language errors in order to write and speak more effective English.

  • SMC's ESL professors have special professional training in teaching students whose native language is not English.

  • SMC's academic ESL courses will enable you to study with other ESL students from around the world in a safe and friendly atmosphere.

  • SMC's academic ESL courses are similar to courses you would take at a university like UCLA; these courses are more challenging than high school and adult school ESL classes.

Strengths of the SMC ESL Program


ESL 10, 11A, 11B, 21A, 21B, and 25 are multi-skill writing courses that include a sequential review of grammar points commonly problematic for non-native speakers: Verb Tenses; Sequence of Tenses; Subject/Verb Agreement; Count/Non-Count Nouns; Article Use; Pronoun Agreement; Word Forms; and Usage.

We also offer grammar courses. ESL 16A is a one-unit course recommended for students who need to focus on nouns (count/non count) and articles. ESL 16B is a one-unit course recommended for students who need to work on verb forms. ESL 16C is a one-unit course recommended for students who need to work on sentence building and punctuation. ESL 20A and 20B are grammar workshops that cover a wide range of errors common to non-native speakers. These courses help students understand grammar better so that they may edit their own writing.

Error analysis as a learning tool helps non-native speakers identify grammatical errors in their own and other students' writing samples. Peer editing affords students the opportunity to correct their own and other students' grammar errors. These techniques are used in all levels.

ESL classes are designed to teach American academic rhetorical style required in American colleges and universities.

Vocabulary and Reading:

Our writing classes include a reading and vocabulary component especially designed to help non-native speakers increase their vocabulary and improve their reading and study skills. Group work gives the necessary practice in speaking and listening. ESL 17 and ESL 23 focus on improving note-taking and reading skills. Readings are selected to reflect cultural diversity and are aimed at presenting you with a wide variety of text types. ESL 28 teaches the academic vocabulary needed to succeed in university and college courses.


Our ESL faculty are experts in language acquisition, second language teaching, and comparative linguistics; all of them speak other languages as well, and many have taught and/or studied abroad. They are a diverse group of experienced and well-qualified individuals who are dedicated to helping students achieve their academic, professional, and personal language learning goals.

What's the difference between academic ESL Dept and English Dept classes?

If you are a non-native speaker of English and have lived here for many years, you may have fluent speaking skills, BUT you may have ESL errors in your writing. You need to correct these errors to be successful in your future classes and career, and our ESL courses are specifically designed to help you do that.

There are many similarities between academic ESL and English Dept courses:

  • Class Size: Both ESL Dept. and Eng. Dept. classes have the same number of students (writing courses = 25; other courses = 35).

  • Class Achievement Goals: Both ESL and Eng. Dept. writing classes at the same level have similar academic purposes. "C level" courses focus on success with paragraph and beginning essay writing skills; "B level" courses strengthen high intermediate essay development and aim toward more sophisticated reading comprehension; "A level" courses like Eng 1 emphasize advanced writing techniques such as research paper writing and documentation of sources.

  • Class Credit: Both ESL and Eng department classes offer the same number of credits and require the same number of hours of study for similar courses (eg. ESL21A/English 21A = 3 hrs/week and 3 units).

There are also important differences between academic ESL and English Dept courses:

  • Transferability: While four-year colleges and universities assign the same credit to courses offered by both the ESL and English departments, ESL Dept. students receive up to 8 units of transfer credit for ESL 11B, ESL 21A, ESL 21B, and ESL 25. Transfer credit is not given for Eng. Dept. courses below the level of Eng 1.

  • Instructors: All ESL instructors have advanced degrees and practical training in applied linguistics, language acquisition, and second language teaching. Our instructors are familiar with and prepared to work with students on the special problems that learners of English as a second (or third or fourth!) language encounter. All of our ESL instructors have studied other languages; many have spent time living in other countries, and, as part of their training, many have been international students themselves at one time in their lives, so they understand well the challenges of learning a second language in the country where that language is spoken. 

  • Course Content:Although the academic goals of ESL and English classes are similar, ESL teachers interpret these goals somewhat differently. They can anticipate what your non-native reading, vocabulary, grammar, listening, speaking, and writing concerns are and prepare course materials accordingly. Reading and discussion materials appeal to a variety of cultural experiences and are chosen especially for the needs of a second language learner. These include:
    • group work on a daily basis that allows students the necessary practice in speaking/listening,
    • language-teaching methods specifically designed for non-native speakers,
    • focus on grammar errors most frequently made by non-native speakers,
    • instruction in vocabulary and culturally-connected terms that non-native speakers may be unfamiliar with,
    • preparation for American academic life and information to help students better understand U.S. culture.
  • Class Composition And Environment: Because ESL courses are comprised of non-native speakers, students have the opportunity to interact with classmates who share similar goals and concerns. ESL students find they have a lot in common with their classmates, but they also learn a lot about cultures different from their own in an environment of mutual respect and understanding.

How can I arrange for free ESL tutoring?

PDF FileHow to Schedule a Tutoring Appointment

Schedule a Tutoring Appointment through Corsair Connect

Tutoring FAQS:

What types of tutoring services are offered?
We offer free help for SMC ESL students with grammar and homework questions, developing topic sentences and thesis statements, essay organization and coherency, essay revision (2nd drafts), and conversation and pronunciation.

Who is eligible?
We provide individual tutoring free of charge to all non-native speakers of English currently enrolled at SMC.

How do I make an appointment?
Appointments are made online. To schedule an appointment, log into Corsair Connect, and click the ALIS link for tutoring appointments. You will be asked to register the first time you use the service.  Then select ESL (ESL 120).  If you need help making your appointment, please come to the ESL office (ESL107).

How often may I have an appointment?
You may make one or two appointments per week. Appointments generally last 30 minutes per visit.

How should I prepare for my appointment?
The tutors can help you with any aspect of your English/ESL coursework, but they do not have prepared lessons. You should bring any class materials or assignments that you would like help with. Think of specific questions that you want answers to.

Can I meet with a tutor without an appointment?
Sometimes. It is always best to make an appointment, but if a student is not scheduled or does not show up for an appointment, the tutor will put up a sign on the door to ESL 120 indicating that drop-in appointments are available. Drop-in appointments may also be available during the Tuesday and Thursday activity hour from 11:00 AM -12:30 PM.

Where do I meet with my tutor?
Tutors meet students in the ESL building (corner of 16th and Pearl Streets) in Room ESL 120. The secretary (ESL 107) can direct you to your tutor. You should plan to arrive a few minutes early for your session.

How do I cancel an appointment?
Cancellations should be made at least 24 hours in advance and are made online at the same site where you schedule an appointment.

When are the tutors available?
We offer tutoring throughout the school year, including the intersessions (winter and summer). Available hours are designed to accommodate both our day and evening students.

Who are the tutors?
The ESL Department tutors are highly-trained specialists with advanced degrees. They are familiar with our courses and the assignments that our instructors require. They can also direct students to resources for self-study and further language learning.

Tutoring Program Faculty Leader Janet Harclerode



ESL Dept Conversation Groups:

Group guided by native English speakers and ESL tutors (Fall and Spring semesters only).

ESL 105
Thursday: 11:15 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Where is the ESL Dept located?

On the corner of 16th and Pearl Streets

The ESL Building on the Map of SMC Campus - the south west corner of the SMC Campus

Where can I purchase my textbooks?

The SMC campus bookstore stocks texts for all our classes, and you may purchase them either in-person or online. Please make sure you order the correct edition of your text. If you have questions, contact your instructor.

Shipping can take from 2-4 weeks, so order the books you'll need EARLY!

SMC online bookstore

For a minimal charge, the campus bookstore will mail your books to you OR hold them for 48-hour pick-up at the bookstore after you purchase them online.