Tips for New ESL Students

students talking in classWelcome to De Anza College!

Here is some information to help you get started with studying English as a Second Language (ESL) at De Anza College.

Be sure to read the information listed below, under Before You Apply, and then follow the steps listed under After You Apply.

You can also find more information about choosing the right classes on our main ESL Assessment webpage.

NEW: Recent Arrivals Can Pay In-State Fees

Newly arrived immigrants, refugees and individuals who have been granted asylum in the United States – or applied for these immigration statuses – can take ESL credit courses for the lower fees charged to California residents, instead of the higher tuition paid by nonresidents. State law (Ed. Code Section 76140) provides this exception only for individuals who settled in California after entering the United States and have lived in California for less than a year.

Before You Apply

Here are some things that will be useful for you to know.

We Are a Public College

De Anza is a public community college that helps students to

  • Learn English
  • Get training for jobs and careers
  • Prepare for transfer to four-year universities – like the University of California, California State University and private universities

Everyone Is Welcome – You Just Need to Apply

De Anza is open to all residents, including undocumented residents, and to international students who are attending on an F-1 visa

To become a student, you must complete an online application.

  • There is no cost to apply – it's free!
  • See the information below in the box called "Here's How to Apply."

Undocumented Residents Are Welcome at De Anza

You can find helpful information in our AB 540 Guide for students whose immigration status is undocumented.

See the AB 540 Guide

Classes Are on a Quarter Schedule

De Anza offers classes at four times each year: fall quarter, winter quarter, spring quarter and summer session.

  • Each quarter (fall, winter and spring) is 12 weeks long.
  • Summer classes are usually six to eight weeks long.
  • Some colleges follow a different schedule, with classes offered during two semesters each year.

Important Dates and Deadlines

We Have the Right Type of Class for You – Including Free Classes!

You can choose the type of class that is right for you:

Do you want to learn English so you can speak with your supervisor, co-workers, neighbors or children?

  • Taking free, noncredit ESL classes may be best for you!
  • There is no limit on how many times you take or repeat a noncredit class.
  • Click this button for more information:

Noncredit ESL Classes

Do you want to learn English so you can earn academic credit – either as a requirement for work or because you want to eventually earn a college degree or transfer to a four-year university?

  • Taking ESL classes for academic credit may be best for you!
  • Click this button for more information:

For-Credit ESL Classes 

We Help You Decide Which Class to Take First

We use an assessment process to help you decide which course to take first.

  • After your first class, you can advance to other courses in the ESL course sequence.
  • Read on to learn more about this process.

Here's How to Apply

To become a student, you must complete an online application. There is no cost to apply – it's free!

Most students will use the New Student Application. 

  • Be sure to answer "Yes" to the question on the application that asks:
    "Are you interested in taking ESL courses now?"
  • If you attended De Anza before, but you did not attend classes in the most recent quarter, you must submit the New Student Application again.


  • If you have an F-1 visa, you must submit the F-1 Visa Student Application instead of the New Student Application.
  • If you are planning to pursue an associate degree or transfer to a university, you should follow the additional steps listed on the Apply and Register webpage – which include declaring a major or goal, completing orientation and creating an eductional plan

After You Apply

Follow these steps to register for classes:

STEP 1: Wait for your acceptance email

About two weeks after you submit your application, you will receive an email with your 8-digit student identification number, also known as a CWID.

You will use this CWID number to log in to MyPortal, where you can check your placement and register for classes.

STEP 2: Find out which ESL class to take first 

If you attended a U.S. high school for at least three years, the Assessment Center at De Anza may be able to use your high school transcript to tell you which ESL class you should take first.

If you didn't attend a U.S. high school, you can use the ESL Guided Self-Placement to find out which ESL class you should take first. 

Did you attend a U.S. high school for three or more years?

If you have questions about assessment: Visit the Assessment Center in person or submit your question online by using the Assessment Contact Form.

Assessment COntact Form

STEP 2: Register for Classes 

After you know which class to take, you can register for classes 

  • You will need your CWID to register for classes.
  • Find the classes you want to take in the class schedule and then follow the steps to register

STEP 3: Plan Your Next Steps

After your first class, you can advance to other courses in the ESL course sequence.

View the ESL course sequence

You can learn more about the sequence by reviewing the list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).

See FAQs and More Information

Your academic counselor can help you choose classes and plan your studies at De Anza. 

Priority Registration

You can get an earlier registration date if you follow the additional steps listed on the Priority Registration information webpage. (Read these before you fill out your application.)


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