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English as a Second Language (ESL)


Students apply online. You must first create an account and then complete the application. Admissions and Records' webpage "How to Apply and Enroll" gives step-by-step instructions for New/Returning students, International students, and High School students. There is no cost to submit an application.
After applying to CSM, students should make a Placement Appointment to determine their level for each skill. Students can then review our courses to determine the best fit based on their goals and interests. The ESL Center is available to speak with you about the different course options. Students who are part of a learning community or who want to earn an educational certificate or degree should speak to a counselor about course selection.
The ESL Department offers a core curriculum of intermediate and advanced-level ESL courses in reading, writing, listening and speaking. We also offer supplemental courses in grammar review and pronunciation as well as lab-only courses for reading, writing, vocabulary, and listening and speaking. Watch this introductory video to learn more about the ESL program and classes.
The cost of a class is determined by how many units it has and whether or not the student is considered a resident of California for tuition purposes. Most ESL courses are 3 or 5 units. For students looking for a low-cost option, we also have 0.5 unit courses available. Check the Fees page or email for the most up-to-date information.

CSM has two regular semesters and one shorter summer session.

  • Fall semester begins in August and ends in December.
  • Spring semester begins in January and ends in May.
  • Summer semester runs from June to July and is 6-8 weeks.
Yes, students must be available to attend the entire semester.
Most of our courses are offered during the morning and afternoon on weekdays. We usually have 1 or 2 evening courses each semester. For students who have limited availability or would like the option of Saturday appointments (9:15 am to 12:15 pm), we also offer our independent study lab-only courses.
No, the classes offered each semester will change. It is important to check WebSchedule to see if the class you want to take is being offered during the semester you plan to attend.

Please review the residency requirements as defined by the Education Code. If you are unsure if you are a California resident, please contact Admissions & Records.

Undocumented students who have questions about residency, AB540, and enrollment, please contact our Multicultural Center. All other students can email the Language Arts Division Office at They will connect you with someone on campus who can assist you.
Yes, our ESL courses are available to international students. The International Education Program at College of San Mateo works solely with international students on F1 visas and helps with the application process, visa questions, course selection, and academic counseling.
If you are on an F1 student visa, please contact the Center for Global Engagement. If you are on any other visa, please contact Admissions & Records.

If you have any other questions, please see our Contact Us page and send us a message for more information.

Spring Recess
March 27 - April 2, 2023
Flex Day, No Classes
April 20, 2023
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