Cypress College Recognized as a Top Higher Education ESL Program in California

For Immediate Release

April 29, 2022

Contact: Marc Posner

(714) 484-7006

In two recently published reports, Cypress College’s English as a Second Language (ESL) program was recognized as a top ESL program among California community colleges.

The Research and Planning Group for California Community Colleges (RP Group) and the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) identified the most successful programs by measuring their “throughput,” which indicates a successful transition from ESL into and through Freshman Composition within a three-year timeframe. Following landmark legislation AB 705, which focused on successful completion of freshman composition rather than individual course success, a new metric was needed to assess the quality of an ESL course program.

“We always knew we were doing well at Cypress, but we didn’t know how we were doing relative to the whole state,” said Cypress College ESL Professor Kathy Wada. “So we’re excited to be identified in both of these reports and to be interviewed for these reports about our high throughput, which just means we are successfully equipping ESL students to succeed in Freshman Composition.”

Cypress College Alumna Ngoc Ngo emigrated from Vietnam, following her dream to pursue a field that was not available to her in her home country.

“I love studying psychology, but there was not an opportunity for me to pursue it in Vietnam,” Ngo said. “Thus, despite the language barrier, I set a goal to double my efforts and get ready to face challenges in order to achieve a degree in psychology here in the U.S.”

The first-generation college student successfully navigated the ESL program and transferred to the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). She is one of the thousands of ESL students that have successfully gone through Cypress’ program.

“My ESL professors helped me build my very first foundation for academic writing and reading in English,” Ngo said. “They have all helped me on my educational and career pathway. Their encouragement motivates me, making me believe more in myself.”

She graduated with Distinction (Cum Laude) from UCLA with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. She said all of the faculty and staff that she worked with at Cypress College set her up to succeed in college, both at the two-year institution and at UCLA.

The college was also the first in the state to create Guided Pathways ESL Milestone Certificates of Achievement, signifying the ESL student has demonstrated reading and writing skills at an advanced, postsecondary level and is working toward a degree, certificate, or transfer in their educational pathway. The California Community College Chancellor’s Office approved the nine certificate programs, and the college began awarding the certificates of achievement in fall 2019.

Yohannes Tade, a Cypress ESL student from Ethiopia, successfully completed the program and earned his Milestone Certificate before pursuing his studies in Radiologic Technology. When he learned he was successful in his ESL courses, he said he “felt beyond excited.”

“It represented all the hard work I put into all my college career to get to where I am today,” Tade said. “It might be an easy thing for some people, but for a young, black Ethiopian who came not so long ago to the States with confusion, it represents everything. It represents accomplishment; it represents that we have support too. It represents that all our hard work has value, and it represents that we can aim and execute big too.”

“These certificates are incredibly meaningful to our ESL students,” Wada said. “It gives them something tangible that signifies their success in academic reading and writing skills and achievement in their prerequisite course work. When they receive this certificate, it is very clear that these certificates mean so much more to our ESL students than just a piece of paper. They are recognition from Cypress College and the state that they are on their way to achieving their dreams.”

About Cypress College:

Cypress College offers students a pathway to their future in an environment in which employees commit to joining students on their educational journey. The college’s half-million-plus alumni include actors, athletes, doctors, executives, mechanics, nurses, and teachers. For some, Cypress College is the ticket into their university of choice, and for others, it provides essential training for a prosperous career. Just one Cypress College class is often all it takes to provide cutting- edge skills that lead to a promotion or a new job.

Cypress College’s 16,000 students and the highly qualified teaching faculty are proud of the many excellent academic and vocational programs. Cypress College provides a pathway for each of our students, offering 56 university-transfer majors, 174 career-certificate programs, and degrees in 98 areas of study. The college’s traditional semesters begin in January and August, while short-term courses start throughout the year. A Cypress College education costs $46 per unit — $138 for a typical, full-credit class — California’s lowest tuition. Eligible first-time students qualify for free tuition through Cypress College’s Charger Experience promise program. Financial aid and scholarships are also available to qualifying students.

Cypress College is one of three campuses in the North Orange County Community College District and a member of the 116-campus California Community College system. The college primarily serves the cities of Anaheim, Buena Park, Cypress, Garden Grove, La Palma, Los Alamitos, Seal Beach, and Stanton.

Located at 9200 Valley View Street in Cypress, the college is easily accessible from several Southern California freeways, including the 5, 91, 605, 22, and 405. The campus is just a stone’s-throw from Downtown Disney and Knott’s Berry Farm.

In response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, Cypress College’s instruction and services are now offered both in person on campus and in an online/remote format. Students can access support services online at


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