Glendale Community College offers free Adelante! classes for English learners

Adriana Orellana

The free !Adelante! English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, offered by Glendale Community College, started on Feb. 15 at the Garfield campus and at Cerritos Elementary School in Glendale and will benefit many students throughout the semester.

!Adelante! is a program for ESL students who speak Spanish as a first language. The program consists of seven classes that teach reading, writing, speaking, and listening comprehension, as well as preparing students for basic communication skills needed for the daily life.

Although the classes already started, students are encouraged and welcome to join throughout the semester if there is space available in the class.

“What we are trying to do with the !Adelante! program is to respond to the students’ needs and offer them first-language support,” said Megan Ernst, ESL instructor at the Garfield campus. “We teach everything in our classes in English, but with first-language support we use Spanish about 5 percent of the time only when it is needed, such as when discussing or explaining tests, homework, and other related topics because there is no point of talking to them in Spanish because they already know it. We want them to really learn English.”

Ernst also said that with the !Adelante! program they are not trying to segregate students, but rather trying to improve intercultural communication. They are also trying to provide outreach to the Latino community.

“The !Adelante! program has the same curriculum as the ESL classes provided at the GCC campus, with the addition of first-language support, but we also encourage and welcome students from other ethnic backgrounds to join the ESL classes provided at GCC.”

More than 200 students join and benefit from !Adelante! each semester.

“English is very necessary in this country and I want to learn it well,” said Dinora Rodriguez, who came from El Salvador and attends a beginner’s class, “The pronunciation is a bit hard, but with the help of these classes and a lot of practice I can achieve a lot. I am very satisfied with the class that I am in.”

Eric Ortega, who came from Mexico and also attends the beginner’s class, said, “I want to learn English and it will be much easier for me to be here. The class is a lot of fun and we learn a lot, but we always have to give it our all to accomplish what we want.”

The !Adelante! program started in 2004 with only a few classes and about 20 students. All of the program instructors speak Spanish and lived or were born in Spanish speaking countries. They hold master’s degrees in teaching ESL or a related field.

“The !Adelante! program is pretty much a one-stop service,” said Marie Bartholomew, administrative assistant for Non-Credit ESL at the Garfield Campus, “It is easy for the students who want to enroll because they take the level placement test at the location and register immediately. It is really helpful because they might not know how to register online and here we help them with the entire process.”

The !Adelante! classes meet at Cerritos Elementary School, located at 120 E. Cerritos Ave. in Glendale, from 6 to 9:30 p.m Monday through Thursday. The classrooms are located on the second floor.

To register for the class, students must provide their name, date of birth, and their mailing address. No other form of documentation is required, unless the student is under 18 years old. Those who want to join the classes or learn more about the program must go to Cerritos Elementary between 5:45 and 7 p.m. pm any evening that classes are offered. The only item that students must pay for is their book, which usually costs between $25 and $40.

There is also one beginner’s class for Spanish speakers at the Garfield campus, located at 1122 E. Garfield in Glendale, from 8:30 a.m. to noon Monday through Thursday. The class meets in Room 3 and those who wish to register and attend the class must go directly to the room.

“We want to offer them student services and opportunities,” said Ernst, “and after they are done with these classes and learn English, we hope that they move onto other classes that the college offers at little or no cost.”

For more information, call Megan Ernst at (818) 240-1000 ext. 5804.