tc columbia

English Learners and ESL Programs in the Community College: A Review of the Literature

English Learners and ESL Programs in the Community College: A Review of the Literature

Demographic and postsecondary enrollment data suggest that the proportion of community college students who need support to access curricula in English is large and will continue to grow in the coming years. Yet there is limited research on the postsecondary experiences and outcomes of these English learners (ELs), and most of the studies that are available focus exclusively on the subset of ELs who enroll in ESL courses. Informed by relevant research literature, this paper examines factors within the community college context that affect the experiences and academic outcomes of the EL population broadly, and, given that they can be more easily identified and have been the subject of much more study, students who enroll in ESL courses in particular. The paper describes ELs and their academic needs and strengths, and provides a brief discussion of the national and state policy landscape regarding EL students. It then provides perspectives from the research literature on ESL assessment and placement, instructional delivery, and student identity. The paper concludes with a brief discussion of the implications of these findings for policy, practice, and future research.