Language Arts

The Language Arts Division encompasses a number of departments: English, English as a Second Language, Foreign Languages, Sign Language Studies, Linguistics, and Journalism. Some courses offered in the division meet the Area C requirements for the AA/AS degree and for transfer to the CSU system; many also fulfill the Area 3 requirements to the UC system. Spanish, French or ASL fulfill foreign language requirements of the UC system as well.

English Department

oldbooks.jpgFaculty in the English Department help students improve reading, writing and thinking abilities, all of which are necessary components in any major field of study. Most students take composition courses to fulfill either transfer or graduation requirements or to enhance their writing skills, and eligibility for English 1 is now a prerequisite for many Social Science classes. The composition courses vary in entry skill level from very basic writing, where students learn to develop and sharpen their writing, to the critical thinking courses, in which students tackle issues and elements of logic. In addition to composition, the department offers a wealth of courses in literature from survey courses, such as Introduction to Literature, to ethnic courses, such as Chicano Literature, to period literature, such as Shakespeare or American Literature.

One of the shining assets of the English department is its Writing Center, in which student tutors, paraprofessionals and English instructors are available to help students taking any class on campus develop as a writer and practice the techniques of good writing.

The department has been foremost in the development of online teaching. Several levels of courses are offered online, allowing students to meet minimally on campus and to do the majority of the coursework from their own homes. Many instructors also use a lab as a classroom for part of their courses, and for students who need greater access to computers than the Learning Center can give them, the Language Arts Computer Lab provides an opportunity for students to write papers, conduct research and complete web-based assignments.

An English major prepares a student for a number of professional opportunities – law, teaching, publishing, broadcasting, journalism and many others. Increasingly, employers demand strong reading and writing skills of their employees, in addition to the ability to work with a variety of people successfully. The courses of study within the English Department emphasize growth, communication, and the ability to live life more deeply.

The English Department's commitment to student success is reflected in its participation in innovative learning on campus. It is integrated in the First Year Experience (FYE) program, which creates learning environments through linked classes that support the needs of new students. In collaboration with FYE through a Title V grant, the department hosts Augmented Instruction (AI) courses that feature extra instructor time as well as a student tutor dedicated to the class.The department also houses the Puente Project, a transfer readiness program for students interested in studying Latino culture and in transferring to a four-year college.

English as a Second Language

Coursework in English as a Second Language (ESL) is intended for students whose first language is one other than English.

The ESL program differs from that offered through an adult school in its rigor and focus. Courses make college-level demands on students, requiring intense study in class and outside of class, and they focus on academic reading, writing, speaking and listening skills, rather than the life-skills focus of an adult-school program. Our beginning courses are designed for students with minimal skills in one or more of the reading, writing, speaking and listening areas of English. Intermediate courses are designed for students with emerging skills in those areas. Advanced courses stress improvement and polish of the skills to prepare the non-native speaker for mainstream English classes. The program seeks to support and encourage students as they take coursework elsewhere in the college curriculum, and thus many students take courses simultaneously in ESL and in other disciplines.

There is also a vibrant non-credit off-campus ESL program for beginning English speakers, hosted at various community sites in the region, as well as the opportunity to take any on-campus ESL classes as non-credit.

Foreign Languages

The Foreign Language Department offers transfer courses in French, Portuguese and Spanish. The Foreign Language Department believes that it is in the interest of all students to become bilingual or fluent in many languages in order to compete in today’s global community. Therefore, the instructors in the department provide a sequenced program of courses that support the goal of fluency in speaking, reading, writing and comprehension. Besides offering French 1-2 and Spanish 1-4, the department also features a vital Spanish for Spanish Speakers Program (Spanish 22-23) and a survey of literature (Spanish 12).

The Spanish program and instructors have been particularly active, sponsoring the campus MECHA Club and teaching the series of courses that culminate in the popular Spanish Interpreter Certificate.

American Sign Language

Sign language was introduced at COS in the early 1980s. From a few evening classes, the American Sign Language Department has grown into a vibrant program. Currently, students can take four levels of ASL. An interpreting course has recently been implemented. This course will train students who are interested in becoming qualified interpreters for the deaf, as well as teachers of the deaf.


The Journalism Department offers the opportunity to be part of a newsroom turning out an award-winning newspaper, The Campus.

Students interested in journalism can gain invaluable experience, seldom offered to students in their first two years at a four-year college, in all areas of newspaper production, from news and editorial writing, to photojournalism and layout. The new journalism computer lab offers students the opportunity to use computers for composing news stories and paginating pages, an environment that simulates production of local and national newspapers. In addition, Mass Communications meets a transfer requirement in Area 4 for the CSU and UC schools.

Degrees and Certificates

American Sign Language


ESL Beginning Level Certificate of Completion

ESL Intermediate Level Certificate of Completion

ESL Advanced Level Certificate of Completion

Foreign Language Studies



Spanish (For Spanish Interpreter see Business)

Last Updated: 10/25/2016 3:07 PM