A new California law, set to take effect on January 1, 2024, will allow community colleges to offer courses in languages other than English without requiring students to enroll in English as a Second Language (ESL) courses. The hope is that the move will entice more non-English speakers to enroll in California’s community colleges because they’ll be able to take courses in their native language.

The state’s former requirement that students enroll in ESL classes at the same time they were taking community college classes taught in other languages was seen as a burden by some due to the extra time commitment. The new law could help prevent students from getting discouraged and help retain them, officials believe.

“We hope that this will create a pipeline for individuals to engage in community college,” Gabriel Buelna, a member of the Los Angeles Community College District’s board of trustees and supporter of the bill, told EdSource.

“In a world of lower enrollment, do you want more Californians at your community college?” he asked. “Or do you not want more Californians at your community college?”

“Why does it matter so much that someone learn about caring for the elderly or phlebotomy in a specific language?” he said. “Do you want them to have the skill or not? What’s more important?”

Read more about the new law here.