ESL Students: Here's Where to Begin

New Assessment Process for ESL

De Anza College is now using U.S. high school transcripts to assess some students for English as a Second Language. This webpage will explain more about this new process.

Before taking any course in English as a Second Language (ESL), you must complete the ESL assessment process, so you can be placed in the right course. Scroll down or click to learn how this works.

The assessment process will help decide the best place for you to start in the ESL course sequence.

Did You Know?

F-1 Visa Students

If you're attending De Anza on an F-1 visa, you will receive assessment information during the pre-orientation session provided by our International Student Programs (ISP) office.

We're Making the Process Easier!

If English isn't your first language, the ESL program at De Anza can help you in your college studies. Now, we're making it easier to find the course level where you should begin.

If you attended a U.S. high school for at least three years


We can use your high school transcript information to assess your ESL level.

  • Finding your placement 

  • Understanding your placement

  • ESL course sequence

  • Confused? Our counselors can help!

If you didn't attend a U.S. high school for at least three years


You can request an online ESL assessment by using our online contact form.

  • Steps for Completing the Assessment

  • Repeating the ESL assessment

  • Confused? Our counselors can help!

Who Should Be Assessed for ESL? 

We recommend completing the ESL assessment process if English is not your native language and you

  • Want to learn English for personal or professional reasons, or
  • Want to attend a four-year university in the U.S. but you are not ready for transfer-level, or university-level English classes, or
  • Previously attended schools where all your subjects were taught in a language other than English

There is a different assessment process for placement into transfer-level English courses. But if English is not your first language, you must demonstrate English proficiency before you can be assessed for transfer-level English. You can do that by

  • Submitting your U.S. high school transcript information for assessment – provided that you completed at least grades 9-11 in a U.S. high school  OR
  • Completing the online assessment

De Anza will NOT accept any other assessments for ESL or English course placement, such as iTEP, O-Level Exams, TOEFL or IB.

Below, you will find more information about the pathway from ESL to English at De Anza. You can also find information for beginning English learners.

A Pathway from ESL to English 

De Anza's English as a Second Language (ESL) program provides a pathway for students who want to take transfer-level ESL and English courses. 

View the ESL course sequence

  • Depending on your educational goal, you may need to complete transfer-level ESL courses, transfer-level English courses, or both.
  • If you are an ESL student, you must complete at least two courses – ESL 272 (or 472) and ESL 273 (or 473) – or be placed into ESL 5, before you can be assessed for English.
  • We strongly recommend that you meet with your counselor to understand which course sequence is best for you!

Frequently Asked Questions 

  • What is the ESL program?

  • What is the difference between English and ESL?

  • What is advanced ESL?

  • What if I am a beginning English learner?

  • Do you offer free noncredit classes?

  • Can I take free noncredit classes as a nonresident or F-1 visa student? 


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