Community college invests in ESL training

Established in 1958 as a part of a statewide system of industrial education centers throughout North Carolina, Alamance Community College (ACC) has grown into a vibrant two-year college offering associate degrees in a diverse range of subjects. ACC is committed to responding to the changing needs in the area and, in response to the many new employment opportunities for technically trained personnel, the college seeks to give its 5,000 enrolled adult educational students the opportunity to develop their potential.

In recent years, ACC saw a rise in local jobs for multilingual candidates, but a burgeoning number of adults in continuing education programs had limited or no ability in the English language. ACC sought to ensure that all students received the opportunity to become proficient in both Spanish and English in order to help these individuals prepare for the real world.

As a vocational institution, ACC’s primary goal is to train its students for success in their chosen career path.  In an effort to accomplish this goal and bring both the school’s foreign language instruction and English as a Second Language (ESL) programs to the next level, I decided that the school’s foreign language programs would benefit from integrating the immersive and interactive technology Rosetta Stone offers into the ACC classrooms.

I was able to convince ACC President, Dr. Martin Nadleman, that the software would help better prepare students for their future and Rosetta Stone Classroom was introduced into five ESL and two Spanish language classrooms in January 2009 under Clara Vega, the head of ACC’s Humanities department.

The Rosetta Stone pilot program introduced technology and individualized language learning into their classrooms for the first time. With the launch of the program in Fall 2009, Rosetta Stone Classroom has become a central part of ACC’s Spanish classes and ESL programs, providing an immersive and personalized learning experience to their students, faculty, and staff.

As soon as the students began using the software, they immediately experienced the freedom to learn based on their own comfort level and the ability to continue their practice outside the classroom walls. Rosetta Stone Classroom allowed students to set their own pace and move forward on their own time, according to their skills and individual needs.

Within months, students using the software had outpaced the scheduled curriculum and advanced beyond teachers’ expectations. Teachers were most were impressed by how steep the students’ learning curve became once they were practicing with Rosetta Stone.

In the ESL classrooms, students had an extremely positive experience. By far the most welcoming surprise since the beginning of the program is the great improvement students have made in perfecting English pronunciation. It had been almost impossible for teachers to break through thick accents with traditional methods, but the interactive nature of the program, voice capabilities, and mind associations have finally given the students the keys to pronunciation success.

As more students engaged with the Rosetta Stone solution, teachers noticed they too were discovering additional freedom in their classroom. Teachers now have more time to teach their own lessons and personally interact with their students. With additional classroom time, teachers at ACC are introducing more advanced and interactive activities into their curricula.

In just the first few months, ACC teachers and students have seen overwhelming success from Rosetta Stone Classroom. Students taking Spanish classes are gaining language skills much faster than before, allowing professors to augment their usual instruction with more in-depth lessons and activities. Additionally, teachers of the ESL program have credited the software’s voice-driven technology with the improvement in student pronunciation and word acquisition.  The program has been so successful that ACC plans to make other languages available in the coming semester and open Rosetta Stone Classroom access to all students.

Although currently limited to Spanish and English learning, ACC plans to extend Rosetta Stone Classroom to other languages that might also improve students’ career prospects. ACC also plans on incorporating Rosetta Stone into its 50th anniversary celebration this year by offering free access to students and alumni who come and want to try out the software for the first time.


Alamance Community College

Rosetta Stone

N. Kumar Lakhavani is currently serving as Director of Information Services and Adjunct Faculty in Computer Information Science department at Alamance Community College. Kumar holds an MBA from the University of North Carolina and a Bachelor of Science degree from Guilford College.

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