College and Career Readiness

English as a Second Language (ESL)

Learn English for free at Central Piedmont Community College.

What You Will Learn

We help you learn English to help you:

  • go to college
  • go on to get high school diploma or equivalency
  • communicate with others
  • have better opportunities at work
  • learn important things about living in the USA
  • participate in your child’s education

You will not receive college credit for ESL courses. Contact Academic ESL/EFL if you want to earn college credit for English courses.

Learn About College and Career Readiness

Why Choose Central Piedmont

Central Piedmont's College and Career Readiness offers programs to develop students’ academic skills, earn a high school equivalency (GED or HiSET) or adult high school diploma, learn English as a second language (ESL), develop employability skills and participate in various work-based-learning experiences, or explore career and post-secondary educational opportunities. Many programs are free or at a very low cost for qualified participants. 

Real World Education

At Central Piedmont, your education goes beyond what you learn in class. We offer numerous opportunities for you to enhance your learning — and to make friends, network, and pursue your passions — through clubs and organizations, sports, events and activities, leadership opportunities, job experience, volunteer experiences, visual and performing arts, and even international experiences.

Additional Information

  • Who Can Enroll?

    To be eligible for ESL, you must:

    • be 16 years or older
    • be officially withdrawn from your last K-12 public, private, or home school
    • have a visa other than an F-1 visa

    If you are between 16-17 years of age, you must petition to enroll (review the requirements for minors).

    If you are an international student with an F-1 visa, you are not eligible to take adult ESL with College and Career Readiness. Contact Academic ESL/EFL if you have an F-1 visa or want to earn college credit for English courses.

  • When Are Classes Held?

    • Most classes are eight weeks long.
    • Most classes meet four days a week (Mon — Thu) for 2.5 hours a day. You must commit to go to class each day for eight weeks.
    • Day and evening classes are available.
    • If you need flexible scheduling, you can use computer labs.
    • You will practice reading, writing, listening, speaking, and grammar in class.

    Your advisor will help you set a schedule that works for you.

  • Where Are Classes Held?

    Adult ESL offers free English classes at a variety of locations around Charlotte. Available locations include certain schools, libraries, churches, and community organizations. While enrolled in ESL classes, you will enjoy all of the benefits of any Central Piedmont student. You can transfer to a Central Piedmont campus from a community class. Classes are held at our Cato, Central, Harper, and Levine campuses, as well as several community sites. Your advisor will help you set a schedule that works for you.


    The Library is open Monday through Friday and is flexible — you can come any time it is open! You must commit to go to the library a couple of times a week. There are drop-in classes each day. We have an excellent software program to learn English. You practice reading, writing, listening, speaking, and grammar on the computer. Teachers help you learn to use the computer.

  • Refugee Students

    Services for Refugees

    • college registration advising and support
    • beginning English classes
    • citizenship classes
    • classes for work
    • placement test preparation classes
    • high school equivalency (GED or HiSET) preparation
    • transportation support
    • translation support
    • interpretation support
    • help with school
    • drivers’s permit preparation
    Education for Refugees

    The goals of the refugee program are to: 

    • offer a comprehensive educational orientation program for diverse groups of adult refugees in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg community
    • provide English language instruction throughout the Charlotte-Mecklenburg community to meet specific and defined language, employment, and family needs of adult refugees

    Classes are free.

    English Courses for Refugees

    English language instruction is provided through a variety of learning modules. Instruction modules are tailored to the needs of targeted subgroups such as seniors, parents, and workers. Each module includes 20 hours of instruction and revolves around themes such as:

    • personnel identification
    • safety
    • housing and home economics
    • transportation/travel
    • health/emergencies
    • family literacy
    • learning/education
    • getting a job
    • on the job

    Who Qualifies for Refugee Services?

    Anyone who entered the country as a refugee/SIV or has been granted asylum.

    You must meet the following requirements to enroll in a foundational ESL course:

    • must be 18 years of age or older
    • test into any of the six levels of ESL
    • hold legal refugee status
      How are Students Referred for Education for Refugees?

      Students are referred to our program by the resettlement agency that hosts them in this area. All of our students are refugees or individuals who have been granted asylum by the U.S. government. Individuals who arrive looking for English classes who are not refugees or asylees are referred to other local ESL classes offered by Central Piedmont.

      Additional information:

    1. How Do I Enroll?

      Step 1. Apply for Admission to Central Piedmont

      • If you have previously applied, you do not need to apply again.
      • If you have applied to Central Piedmont before but don’t know your student ID number or username, or if you are not sure if you are in our system, please call or email us before completing the application.
      • If you do not receive an email with your student ID number within one business day, please contact Admissions or email

      Submit the Central Piedmont College and Career Readiness application

      Step 2. Take the College and Career Readiness Placement Test

      Your placement test results will help your advisor place you into a class that meets your needs and that isn’t too hard or too easy.

      • The test is not a pass/fail exam.
      • Don’t worry about the test or your level. We will help you. Be positive and patient.
      • You do not need to study for the test.
      • Arrive at the test 15 minutes early. If you are late, you will be referred to the next session.
      • Bring your valid, government-issued photo ID and your mailing address to your test.
      • The test will test your English listening skills.
      • The test will take at least three hours.
      Cato Campus Placement Test

      You do not need to register in advance. However, you must be one of the first 22 students to arrive at the test in order to take the test that day. You can take the test on the following dates:

      • Wednesday, October 30, 9:30 a.m. or 5 p.m.
      • Wednesday, November 6, 9:30 a.m. or 5 p.m. 
      • Wednesday, November 13, 9:30 a.m. or 5 p.m.
      • Wednesday, November 20, 9:30 a.m. or 5 p.m.

      Location: Cato III Building, Room 208

      Central Campus Placement Test

      To take the placement test at Central Campus, you must register in advance:

      Harper Campus Placement Test

      You do not need to register in advance. However, you must be one of the first 22 students to arrive at the test in order to take the test that day. You can take the test on the following dates:

      Wednesday, November 20, 9 a.m.

      Location: Harper I Building, Room 302

      Levine Campus Placement Test and Orientation

      You do not need to register in advance. However, you must be one of the first 15 students to arrive at the test in order to take the test that day. You can take the test and attend orientation on dates to be determined.

      Location: Levine I Building, Room 2103

      Step 3. Meet with Your Advisor to Register for Classes

      During your testing session, you will be given a follow-up appointment with an academic and career advisor. Advisors can:

      • assist you with reviewing your placement test results
      • discuss your career interests and any potential barriers to attending class regularly
      • help you develop you career and academic plan
      • register you in classes if needed

      Step 4. Create Central Piedmont Login

      Create Central Piedmont login

      Additional Information

      • If you are a minor (under 18 years old), you will have additional steps to complete.
      • If you require academic accommodations, schedule an appointment with Jonathan Klish to start getting approval for accommodations.
      • If you are a refugee student, contact Lindsay LaPlante, Refugee Education Program Coordinator, at or your refugee caseworker for more information about enrolling in classes or services.
    2. Explore Careers

      Central Piedmont Career Coach

    3. Related Programs

      • Adult High School
      • Career Development
      • Caseworker Training: NC Fast and DSS Human Services
      • ESL Plus
      • High School Equivalency Exam (GED® or HiSET®)
      • Independence and Literacy Education for Adults with Disabilities (I-LEAD)
      • NC Works NextGen (Work and Learn)
      • Pathways to Careers
      • Rise 2 Work
      • Way to Work