LAKEWOOD – Students can learn to speak English while improving their technology skills in a new program at Pierce College. To make that possible, the newly designed English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) course will loan students a laptop to use at home and provide free access to the Internet.
Students can apply now to be in the first class, which starts in September on the Fort Steilacoom campus in Lakewood. A maximum of 25 students will be accepted. Tuition is just $25 a quarter.
Part of statewide, $3.5 million grant
The Pierce College course is part of the statewide Integrated Digital English Acceleration program, or I-DEA for short. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is funding the project through a $3.5 million grant to the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges.
Pierce College and nine other community and technical colleges and community-based organizations in Washington are designing and implementing the courses in the first year of the project. Plans call for the state’s remaining 24 community and technical colleges and partner organizations to join the program over the following two years.
The program targets adult learners in the lowest three levels of ESL instruction. The goal is to help them improve their English language, technology and career-readiness skills more quickly so they can move into college and careers more quickly, said Julie Sandeno, Pierce College ESL instructor and site coordinator.
“A huge change”
“We are very excited and honored to be one of the 10 colleges chosen to be a part of this first year of curriculum design and implementation,” Sandeno said.
“It’s a huge change in the way we’re used to doing things. It’s going to be challenging, but we are excited to see the positive impact it has on our students’ ability to reach their educational and career goals.”
In traditional ESL instruction, the bulk of learning takes place in the classroom and students are expected to practice their English outside of class, Sandeno said.
The new course will begin with instruction in how to use the loaned laptops, navigate the Internet and access the online portion of the class. Then, instruction will be flipped: Students will study vocabulary and grammar through online lessons outside the classroom. When they come to their two-and-a-half-hour class four days a week, they will practice the material that was introduced online.
The course will be more rigorous and faster-paced than in traditional ESL classes.
The college will continue to offer standard ESL classes in the upcoming academic year, in addition to the new approach. But eventually, if all goes as planned, Sandeno said, “This will be the new way lower-level ESL is taught in Washington state.”
Highlights: the new Integrated Digital Education Acceleration (I-DEA) program
- English-as-a-second-language (ESL) instruction for students in the lowest three levels of ESL.
- Class starts Sept. 23, 2013, at Pierce College Fort Steilacoom in Lakewood.
- Class meets 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
- Students pay $25 per academic quarter.
- Students receive a laptop and free Internet access. Laptops must be returned when the course ends.
- International students on Visas are not eligible to participate.
- Students should apply as soon as possible by contacting Debbie Murphy by phone at 253-964-6657 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org<mailto:
email@example.com>. Students must take a test to determine their level of English ability.