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Emerging Practices with Promise

Submitted By: Thatcher Weldon, Monterey Peninsula College

Contextualized ESL course lays foundation for transition to college health care

The Challenge

Many of the English as a second language (ESL) students in the Monterey Peninsula Adult Education Consortium region are interested in expanding their career opportunities or pursuing opportunities that will provide them advancement in the future. The region has many ESL students who have a background in health care in their home countries, but they face language barriers when applying for work here in the United States. Many students also are intimidated by the idea of advancing from the adult school to the community college.

The Solution

To address the challenge, the consortium developed a contextualized ESL course that exposed students to some of the terminology they would encounter when taking Medical Assistant Certification courses at Monterey Peninsula College (MPC). The course was designed to give students the necessary language skills to succeed in the college program, but it also was designed to help them gain the confidence needed to get into the door at the community college. An added personal benefit of the course was that it also gave students the ability to understand medical information provided by doctors about their health or that of a family member.  


The consortium ran two sections, each 10 weeks long, of the contextualized ESL for Medical Assisting at Pacific Grove Adult Education Center. The first session had 15 students in the program, and the second session had 18 students. The class focused on different aspects of the health care industry and provided vocabulary that would be necessary for the students to succeed as a medical assistant. The course also was designed to help students with their computer skills, typing skills and English-language skills.

The Data

Although the consortium did not have data-tracking software set up in order to track students in the courses that transferred to the Medical Assisting Program at MPC, the instructor at MPC did notice four students in her program who went through the contextualized ESL course. The consortium also found that some students who did not pursue a certificate program would possibly be more interested in other fields of the health care industry, so the consortium currently is looking at modifying the course as a contextualized ESL for Medical Careers.

Supporting Information

Supporting documentation

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