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foreign language credits to ELL

  • 1.  foreign language credits to ELL

    Posted 10-09-2019 22:59
    Hi all,
    I work at a community college in NJ where the ESL department prepares students for college level classes. Even though this is a credit program (for financial aid) students do not earn credits towards their degree for their ESL classes. My department is trying to find if there are other higher ed institutions which award ESL students for taking high level ESL classes or for being fluent in another language (their native language) as a foreign language.

    If you know of any higher ed institutions, could you please share:
    Name and location of institution?
    How many credits are awarded?
    What are the credits for?    ex. foreign language
    Are these credits transferable?

    I appreciate all your help on our quest!


    Judith Otterburn-Martinez
    Associate Professor
    Atlantic Cape Community College

  • 2.  RE: foreign language credits to ELL

    Posted 11-09-2019 09:57

    I work at Minnesota State University Moorhead, where I developed a curriculum of 35 ESL courses across five levels. Almost all of the courses carry credit applicable as elective credits towards a degree. In addition, we have attached two language proficiency certificates to these courses. The two certificates have different admissions requirements and recognize two different levels of proficiency. The lower level certificate requires that students have studied English for at least one year in high school, which should be visible on a high school transcript. The few courses that do not carry college level credit are those that would cover the basics that should have been encountered in this one year of high school English. Students can pursue the certificates alone or in conjunction with the pursuit of a degree in another area, much like a minor, and we do have one degree where a large number of these courses apply as required electives: the B.A. in Teaching English as a Foreign Language. You can discover more about the curricula on the university's web site:, and I'm willing to answer questions or provide more information if desired. Granting college credit to non-native speakers of English for their English language study has been a goal of mine for at least two decades in the field, and I'm happy to have finally accomplished it here in Minnesota.

    Linda Houts-Smith
    Associate Professor, TESL
    Minnesota State University Moorhead
    (218) 477-4059

  • 3.  RE: foreign language credits to ELL

    Posted 12-09-2019 01:02

    How are you Judith,

    RE: What are the credits for? ex. foreign language.  Are these credits transferable? Judith Otterburn-Martinez.

    Response:  My community college does not count any ESL courses as a credit toward a degree program. Let's take my students as an example.  Last fall semester 2018-majority of my students were enrolled in Master's of Business Administration (MBA), while others were working on getting into the two-year nursing program. These students were advised by the department to enroll in my ESL beginner class-not in my advanced ESL classes-to increase English language proficiency.  Those who received a passing grade at the end of the semester, got admitted into their program of interests.  Thus, the ESL class they took with me was not creditable toward their degree plan-not to fulfill a program requirement, but a developmental English class (001) they must sign-up for as pre-requisite requirement-instructed by the department, (e.g., MBA and Nursing Program).     

    As for:  "What are the credits for foreign language?"  The foreign language the students studied in this particular case would be the English language with me.  My students came from overseas and English was their second language-the primary language you are referring to-is the language (from home) where they came from, (e.g., Czech Republic; China; El Salvador; Spain; Iran; Columbia; Ukraine; Brazil; Greece; Turkey; Himalayan; Poland; et al).  To restate, the earned credits from my ESL class, was simply remedial-it does not satisfy any of the student's MBA courses; neither will it credit (3cr) would count toward the Nursing Degree Program Plan.  The students who got admitted into their programs, continue taking ESL Advanced class with me-in concert with completing their degree programs.  I hope this is helpful, Judith.    

    MerriLee  Leonard
    Greenville Univesity
    Author:  Beginner English Grammar Guide for English as a Second Language Students (1st Ed).
    ISBN- 13: 978-1524962708.
    ISBN- 10: 1524962708.

  • 4.  RE: foreign language credits to ELL

    Posted 12-09-2019 15:37
    Hi Judith,

    I work at the University of Tennessee at Martin.   We are starting the process to appeal to the several committees on campus about students collecting UTM credit hours for ESL Bridge/Pathway type of classes.  Our hope is to Launch in Fall 2020.  Our idea is that these credit hrs would be in the general education 'free electives' requirements of most majors.

     We are working on our Goals and Objectives of these courses.  Through this process, we need to prove to the university that our IEP faculty with MA TESOLs are needed for these classes.  I think that will be our biggest struggle as all departments want the FTE (Full-time Enrollment) credits.

    The link that you posted did not work.  Could you post it again?

    Thank you,


    Caroline Ideus
    University of Tennessee at Martin - TIEP

  • 5.  RE: foreign language credits to ELL

    Posted 13-09-2019 06:51
    Bergen Community College in NJ offers three credits for its advanced Speaking/Listening class. These credits count as a free elective, and can be applied to graduation at BCC. They aren't transferable.

    Heidi Lieb
    Bergen Community College