HCC sees rise in ESL courses

June 28, 2007|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

For details about English as a second language courses at Hagerstown Community College, go to or call 301-790-2800, ext. 313.

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Hagerstown Community College officials say the rise in Washington County's immigrant population has caused the number of students enrolling in English language courses to rise.

Nettie Schubel, an instructional specialist for the adult education program at HCC, said that in April of this year 367 students were enrolled in English as a second language (ESL) courses.

That is a more than 37 percent increase from the year before when 227 were enrolled.

Many of those enrolled are parents of Washington County Public Schools students, Schubel said, who may be taking English learning courses there.


"I think it's a myth that they think foreigners don't want to learn English because our classes are full at all times," she said.

To be eligible to attend the free courses, students must be 16 or older and not enrolled in the public school system.

"Its focal point is life skills, civics, how to assimilate into the culture, job skills, living skills, like grocery shopping," Schubel said.

Magalie Metayer of Hagerstown will begin English classes at HCC in July. She is a native of Haiti and speaks French, but is able to have limited communication in English.

Metayer was at a program Wednesday afternoon at the Washington County Free Library, where she was offered information about her community and resources, including English classes. She brought her 7-year-old daughter Marly.

"If I don't speak English, I can't get a job," she said through a translator. "I want to help (my daughter) with her homework. I want to get a job."

Metayer also has a son and is expecting her third child.

Mustafa Sefik, president of the Association of Intercultural Dialogue, said his organization helps refugees who often enter the United States unable to speak English.

There are about 10 people being helped by the association enrolled in the courses at HCC. Many others attend college there, Sefik said.

"They must learn English because they know it's a must for them to get a job," he said.

Schubel said 45 to 48 percent of English as a second language students at HCC are Hispanic. European countries are represented by about 35 percent of students.

The others come from Asia or Africa.

HCC has seven ESL teachers, Schubel said.

"(Teachers) give (students) the skills," she said. "We teach them about how to apply for a job. We have applications for them to learn the terminology."

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