Academic ESL Program

Academic ESL Program Reading Area Community College
Academic Level
Issue Area
Academic Program
Program Focus
Bilingual /ESL,
Developmental Coursework


Reading Area Community College’s (RACC) academic ESL Program offers credit courses in reading, writing, and listening/speaking for bilingual Spanish/English and non-native English speakers pursuing a college credential. With a focus on the development of academic English language skills, their carefully mapped program and course competencies, along with tutoring support in their Multilingual Learning Center, prepare multilingual students for successful completion of freshman English Composition and other first-year college courses. 

Program Description

The academic ESL Program was redesigned in 2012 to reduce credits and accelerate students through the ESL sequence, increase enrollment and enrollee success rates, and repurpose the ESL lab. Since 2012, the Program has evolved to consist of a standardized curriculum for each course, offer paid professional development to faculty and staff, and enhance accessibility to and resources in the Multilingual Learning Center. While ESL enrollees make up only 5% of the college’s population, their program offers support for all multilingual students enrolled in credit courses through the Multilingual Learning Center. Through intentionally structured curricula, engagement in relevant and contextualized activities, and leverage of students’ use of their native languages to aid English acquisition, their program develops non-native English speakers’ proficiency in academic English to become college-ready.


For all students enrolled in ESL, retention rates since 2012 have increased by an average of 5.7%, and the retention rate of Latino students has increased by 5.9%, with an average of 53.9% of Latino ESL students being retained from fall to fall compared to only 48% of Latino students prior to program implementation. 


Overall enrollee success rates in reading and writing increased from an average of 66.4% prior to 2012 to an average of 78.7% since. The success rates of Latino students in particular have risen from 64.8% to 76.3%. 


Of those ESL students who began three or fewer levels below college-level, an average of 42.6% become college-ready in one year; prior to 2012, the average was 29.3%. 


Prior to 2012, an average of 24.6% of Latinos in ESL attained college-readiness in one year; now, the average is 40.6%. While overall ESL rates show a 9.2% increase in those who successfully complete freshman composition since 2012, Latino students have demonstrated the most growth, with an average increase of 13.1%.