Parkland offers foreign languages, study abroad and ESL

Photo by Anna Watson | Parkland offers classes for non-native English speakers known as ESL classes.

Photo by Anna Watson | Parkland offers classes for non-native English speakers known as ESL classes.

Anna Watson

Staff Writer

At Parkland, students growing tired of their central Illinois surroundings have the opportunities to immerse themselves in many exotic locales, both physically and mentally, thanks to a variety of foreign language courses and study abroad trips.

Parkland has eight foreign language courses listed under the humanities department, including  Arabic, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Kiswahili, Russian, and Spanish, although  low enrollment means that not all of these languages are available for study every semester.

For non-native speakers, Parkland offers several English-as-a-second-language courses, referred to as ESL classes.

Most ESL classes are small, ranging from 10 to 12 students hailing from a variety of different countries.

Parkland also offers free classes in basic English communication skills to asylum seekers and immigrants.

ESL classes are divided into two programs. The first program is a series of three-credit hour courses.

The second program is a full-time, intensive ESL program that prepares students for academic success in American universities and colleges. The program requires students to practice for 20 hours a week. It also requires active learning such as small-group work, problem-solving, and computer-based learning.

Parkland itself currently offers travel abroad opportunities in a total of nine different countries.

Parkland offers both full semester and summer opportunities for studying abroad. Students must submit an application complete with transcripts, a personal essay, and two recommendations from faculty members.

Application deadlines for next trips summer and fall span from March to April, and the deadline for spring trips is in October.

If students don’t want to commit to a full semester, but are interested in going to a different country through Parkland, educational experiences offer travel with less time, commitment, and money.

Last summer, students traveled to Italy, exploring Rome, Florence, and Tivoli. The trip lasted two weeks.

Thomas Easton is a Parkland student majoring in international studies.

“For someone to learn a new language, it is necessary to go abroad,” said Easton.

Easton was 19 years old when he went overseas on a mission trip for his church. His destination was a French territory in the southern Pacific Ocean called New Caledonia.

Just east of Australia, Easton found New Caledonia quite different. However, the biggest challenge for him was speaking a different language.

He attended Monticello High School and studied French for two years, but wasn’t able to speak or understand the language well until he spent time on the French-speaking island.

“After six months, I could understand most of what people were saying, and then eventually after a year, I could say what I wanted to say,” said Easton.

Easton says upon returning to the United States, he is now fluent in French.

He says there are many advantages for college students learning different languages, one being employment opportunity.

“When I came back, I was reached out to by the Champaign school districts,” said Easton. “I didn’t even reach out to them, they reached out to me and wanted to hire me.”

He works as a French translator for C-U public schools. His job includes translating school flyers for French-speaking families and aiding communication during parent-teacher conferences.

Easton plans to continue learning languages and pursue a degree at the University of Illinois in French and Arabic.

For more information on traveling, students can contact Parkland’s study abroad coordinator, Jody Littleton, at Also, students can learn more about the various foreign language and ESL courses through the Counseling and Advising Center.