Culture & Society
In the United States, there are millions of immigrant adults, who grew up speaking a language other than English at home. Many of them are held back by their limited language skills and are struggling to integrate into the American society.

If you have recently moved to the United States, or have been living here for many years, and you are looking for ways to improve your English, you should consider taking some ESL (English as a Second Language) or English classes at your local community college. It is one of the best ways of making friends and feeling part of your community, while you are improving your language skills.

A few months ago, I enrolled at my local community college to take an English course, thinking that it will be an excellent opportunity to improve my speaking and writing skills. I have to admit that I did not expect - in addition to improving my language skills—to extend my learning experience beyond the traditional classroom environment. To my surprise, I found myself learning more about life, tolerance, and the benefits of being part of a diverse group of people.

Here are some of the advantages of taking an ESL or English class at your community college.

The most attractive advantage of community colleges is the cost. Enrollment fees are affordable and considerably less expensive than a four-year university. You also have the option to apply for financial aid and scholarships.

Taking classes at a community college is also a great way to learn how the American educational system works. Most immigrants, like myself, will find out that the American educational system is different, sometimes confusing, and a lot more complicated than other systems, such as the Romanian or British model. Attending classes at your local community college will better help you understand the way the educational system works, and eventually, it will be easier for you to take advantage of some of the programs that these colleges have to offer.

One of the things that I enjoy most when attending my English class at the community college is seeing a group of people, from different backgrounds, collaborating. My English class is an excellent example of such diversity since my classmates are from all over the world: Venezuela, Malaysia, China, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine, and Romania (to include myself). This mix of cultures makes the class very dynamic and unique, and at the same time represents what the United States is all about: a diverse group of nations.

Being a student at a community college gives you access to plenty of resources, such as library materials, writing center resources, international talks from acknowledged speakers on essential topics, world languages groups, and many more—all of them for free. The resource I take the most advantage of is the library. With my library card, not only I can borrow current books, but I can also buy great books, at a lower price, during book sales. Also, having a library card gives you free passes to local museums, exhibitions, and other cultural events.

Whatever your reasons are for wanting to learn English, I certainly encourage you to take some classes at your local community college. The broad range of experiences and perspectives brought into the classroom by culturally, linguistically, and ethnically diverse students, offer a powerful resource for everyone who wants to learn more—in different ways, in new environments, and with different types of people.


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