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Learning a New Language for a Better Future

MAY 4, 2021

ROSEBURG, Oregon – English Language Acquisition (ELA) is one of the Adult Basic Skills Programs offered through UCC’s main campus, at the Woolley Center in Roseburg, and in Myrtle Creek. The program supports and enhances diversity and inclusiveness in Douglas County. ELA helps non-English speaking students acquire work, pursue higher education, and achieve skills to help them functionally participate in the community. The program has helped students from more than 15 countries around the globe such as Brazil, China, Cambodia, Guatemala, Germany, Mexico, Thailand, Vietnam, Ukraine, and others.

“Our ELA class has a very good teacher,” Lucy, a student from China, said. “She is very patient, understanding, and supportive. She shows her enthusiasm in teaching us even though we have different levels of English proficiency. She has faith in us and makes us believe that we can make progress in our learning, big or small.”

Students build skills in English speaking, writing, and listening. They practice conversations that assist them in their everyday life activities such as attending parent-teacher conferences, helping their children with homework, going to a doctor’s appointment, shopping for groceries, buying gas, and more. The class also equips students with basic computer skills, which is helpful for job seeking.

“I do not only learn English,” Lucy said, “but I also learn how to use a computer and set goals. As a result, I [even] passed my driver’s license exam.”

Raquel, a student from Brazil, shared her personal experience.

“My stepdaughter told me about ELA classes at UCC. At first, I didn’t want to come. I was so afraid that people would laugh at me because I spoke zero English. I told her I would be there only one day just to try it out, only one day. If I didn’t like it, I would not return.”

She continued, “I loved the teacher and class from the moment I got there. The teacher and classmates are two key ingredients. I love learning together with them. It is not a stressful class that makes you nervous. It is a fun class where you can learn, have fun, and build friendships at the same time.”

When asking one of the ELA program instructors, Marguerite Garrison, why the residents from diverse backgrounds need to learn English, she said, “Learning English is very important for their futures and the future of their children.”

Garrison added, “You should learn English because your children will speak English. One day your children will speak the language, English, that you don’t speak. You should learn English because your grandchildren speak English, and you want to talk to them. You should learn English because you want a job. You should learn English because you want to do things. For everything, you need English.”

Whether you speak zero, little, or some English, the ELA classes can help to improve your English even better.

Story by Sophavid Choum-Starkey
International Student Contributor

Learn more about what it means to be a part of the international experience in Douglas County. Join the virtual International Conversation Hour during the second Wednesday of each month from 5 to 6 p.m.

These events, which are open to the public, are designed to share information about food, music, traditions, and the experiences of coming here from another country. Learn more at

About Umpqua Community College

Nestled in the beautiful North Umpqua River Valley, Umpqua Community College is the regional center for higher education in Douglas County, Oregon. UCC provides high quality college degree programs, workforce development, and community learning opportunities.


MaryAnn Pope
Registration Specialist
Phone: 541-440-7804

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