Teaching English in a Texas Community College: The Courses

What are the five courses a semester that the teachers are teaching at community colleges in Texas?

The community colleges teach English as a Second Language, Developmental English, and college-level English. 

The number of these courses vary significantly.  Wharton County Junior College offers no English as a Second Language courses according to its catalog, while Lone Star College System offers a total of twenty-nine, including nine classes for listening and speaking, six for reading and vocabulary, and nine for grammar and writing.   A sampling of the community college systems show that they either lean toward ESL, with twenty or more classes, or away from it, with one or none.

Developmental English courses have less variation.  Austin Community College offers none, the least, while Lone Star offers four, two in reading and two in writing, the highest numbers I found.  The most common number of courses was two.

Then there are the college-level English classes.  Since these are designed using the Texas Common Course Numbering System for easy transfer to a four-year college in Texas, the number of possibilities is limited.  There are only twenty-eight possible courses offered under this system (Lower-Division).  These courses include two freshman level courses, which some colleges further designate as Honors or Self-Paced.  The TCCNS further differentiates freshman composition for non-English speakers.  Those two numbers are not used often in two year colleges.

Other writing courses include two semesters of creative writing, a year of freshman business writing, and a single semester or a set of two one-semester classes in technical writing.  The most commonly used of these courses was the single semester technical writing course, followed by the two semesters of creative writing.

Then there are literature courses, offered as a single semester course or two semester courses, with the number for the one semester course being different than the first of the two semester courses.  These literature courses include British, American, and World literature.

Also in literature there is a one semester Chicano literature course and a one- and two-semester series of Forms of Literature course.

The final possibility offered within the Texas Common Course Numbering System is the Academic Cooperative which comes in two and three semester credit hour versions.

Those are the only choices that the two-year colleges have, if they want their course work to be accepted at four-year colleges in Texas.

But the community colleges do not offer this many courses.  Since the highest level courses they can offer are sophomore, this makes sense.  Think of what your colleges offer in terms of sophomore level courses. There is not a great variety.  However, the two-year colleges do offer more than might be expected.  The range in the community colleges I looked at went from ten to eighteen.  Most of the colleges offered two semesters of British literature, two semesters of American literature, and two semesters of world literature.

Why would they offer three different sets of sophomore literature courses?  Obviously variety is an issue.  Giving three choices makes sure that students have a choice of sophomore level English courses, assuming they need them, and it also gives the faculty different courses to teach.

I would guess that the issue of faculty options is the strongest one.  Many of the adjuncts at my schools have taught for ten years, but I am the only one who has been given a sophomore literature course to teach.  All of them have said that they would like to teach a literature course.  So why aren’t they teaching one?  Because the full-time faculty teaches all the sophomore literature courses, including those offered in the evening, with one exception.

The exception to the full-timers’ teaching of literature is the miniterm.  The miniterm does not count toward my college’s 10.5 month contract, so a full-time teacher teaching during miniterm does so for the same pay I get, about $3500 less than their salaried teaching OR they have to teach the miniterm and another course in one of the two summer sessions.  Since this fills up more of their time, it is not a popular choice.

The reason I was able to teach the course is I have a flexible schedule.  Most of the other adjuncts are public school teachers and are unable to meet a three-hour course five mornings a week during the month of May.

Besides the fact that colleges don’t have the students taking enough college-level English courses to warrant teaching twenty-eight classes, there is also the fact that the four-year colleges don’t accept a lot of transfer credit in English. According to their catalogs, the different four-year schools in Texas accept a range of college-level English courses.  Texas A&M lists two courses they will accept.  Texas Tech accepts five, while Baylor takes six. University of Houston will accept seven.  And University of Texas will accept seventeen.

There is not a lot of reason to offer courses for transfer, if the colleges the students will be transferring to don’t accept the courses.  So the two-year colleges wisely don’t offer those.

Of course, a listing in the catalog does not guarantee a regular offering of the courses.  This fall the Lone Star system lists seventeen ESOL and developmental English and fourteen freshman and sophomore courses across the system.  Even those aren’t offered everywhere. Lone Star: Kingwood is offering ten ESOL and developmental English courses and five freshman and sophomore classes.

Those are still a lot of courses; they are especially a lot of courses when the bulk of them are not accepted as credit hours toward graduation or transfer.  The students must be taking them, though, or they wouldn’t continue to be offered.  



Alamo Community College.  Catalog.  2008. 8 August 2008 <http://www.accd.edu/nlc/docs/2008-2009%20complete%20catalog.pdf>.

Austin Community College.  Catalog.  2008 8 August 2008 <http://www3.austincc.edu/schedule/s208f/engl208ff.htm>.

Dallas County Community College.  Catalog.  2008. 8 August 2008 <https://www1.dcccd.edu/cat0809/coursedescriptions/detail.cfm?heading=English>.

Lone Star College.  Catalog.  2008. 8 August 2008 <http://www.lonestar.edu/108552.pdf>.

Lower-Divison Academic Course Guide Manual. Texas Common Courses Numbering System. 2007. 7 August 2008 <http://www.thecb.state.tx.us/AAR/UndergraduateEd/WorkforceEd/acgm.htm>.

Navaro College.  Catalog.  2008. 8 August 2008 <http://www.navarrocollege.edu/pdfs/CatalogFinal-printer.pdf>.

San Jacinto Community College. Catalog.  2008. 8 August 2008 <http://www.sjcd.edu/files/catalog_course_descriptions.pdf>.

Temple College.  Catalog. 2008. 8 August 2008 <http://www.templejc.edu/admission/pdf/Catalog2008-09/CourseDesc.pdf#CourseDescriptions>.

Wharton County Junior College. Catalog. 2008. 8 August 2008 < http://www.wcjc.edu/catalogs_n/2008-09%20%20Catalog.pdf>.

Articles in this series include:
Teaching College English in a Texas Community College: The Teachers
Adjuncting, especially in a community college
Teaching English in a Texas Community College: The Focus
Teaching English in a Texas Community College: The Students

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