The English as a Second Language program at New Mexico State University Carlsbad has served nearly 140 students and the director of Adult Basic Education services expects that number to grow as more people move into Eddy County.

Bertha Jasso feels the process to enroll in the program is very simple, although she said enrollment for the rest of this year is closed at this point and people can only enroll annually. She said the program lasts around 16 weeks.

“At the time of enrollment we’re required to have the student assessed in both reading and writing,” said Jasso. “What we do with that assessment is use it to reveal what level they read and what they can actually write and whether or not they’re using grammar properly.”

Jasso added once her office gets the results, the student is then provided with four different learning opportunities. “We have the beginning level,” Jasso said. “The individual will learn the months of the year, names, colors, things like that. We also offer an intermediate, which is designed for the individual that is reading fairly well, but may not be writing in complete sentences and having difficulty writing a summary of some sort.”

Jasso said ESL also focuses on speaking and listening too and there’s also an advanced program. She added that most of the participants in this program already have a college degree from their native country. “That’s actually a population that we find is easier to serve because they already have a solid foundation within their own language,” she explained. “It makes the English language easier to learn due to the fact they have a very firm foundation in their own language.”

Jasso added that the advanced students are offered a high school equivalency in their own native language. “At the same time, they are getting proficient in the English language,” she added.

In order to be part of the program, Jasso said participants can stop by the NMSU-Carlsbad campus and they also use modern technology. “Many of our participants have found our services through our website,” she said.

She added that an in-person visit is required for the assessment and they also get out in the community as well. “We’re currently working with one oil and gas company within Carlsbad. We’re going to work with 17 males to help them understand the English language and so it’s going to be more customized to the population as far as safety is concerned,” Jasso said. “It’s kind of like a trial basis that we’re wanting to do, because we’re finding that a lot of the companies within our community have that need to work with their employees to get them more proficient in the English language.”

Jasso added that that the program has a global reputation. “We have students from all over the world,” she boasted. “We have Japanese, Chinese; we even have Russian students coming in and a lot of Central American (students), Cubans and throughout Mexico. We do provide service to all non-native speakers.”

In addition to ESL, Jasso said NMSU-Carlsbad also offers Adult Basic Education. She adds that there are currently 24 programs in New Mexico. There is often a misconception, she said about the program, that it only prepares young people to get their high school equivalency diploma.

“We also provide preparation for citizenship and post-secondary (education),” she said. “We have an assessment that we can offer to students that already have a high school diploma and are thinking about coming back to post-secondary. We can go on ahead and assess them and let them know where they are and where they can take the entrance test to any university.”

The program also provides a review for potential students in subjects they may need help in and, in addition, they work with the New Mexico Workforce Connections office.

“We do assist in writing resumes (and) writing cover letters for a job and applying for a job,” Jasso added. She said the programs offered by her office are open to all Eddy County residents. “I do partner with Grammy’s House, therefore classes are offered in Artesia [as well],” she noted.

Anyone wanting more information may contact Jasso at 575-234-9250 or by email at bjasso@nmsu.edu.