By Steve Lestarjette

Agustín Garcia Íñiguez, 31, is experiencing a severe case of “culture immersion.”

He is a star defender for the Houston Dynamo, recruited this season from Madrid, Spain.

While performing with excellence on the field, Agus faces challenges off it. Imagine resettling in a new community—a new country—and not speaking the language.

To make the most of his new life, Agus took a sensible step: He and his wife enrolled in English as a Second Language (ESL) classes at HCC.

“I found out about HCC thanks to a friend,” Agus says. “He informed us about ESL courses, and we enrolled.”

ESL is the largest program—by far—at HCC. Last year a record 12,400 students enrolled in 641 ESL classes, and enrollment is on track to surpass that number by the end of 2016.

And with more than 70 percent of the Houston area workforce expected to be Hispanic by 2020, enrollment will continue to grow.

Agus is a first semester student, just learning the language.

“I have only taken one course,” he reports. “I took English Language Skills 3 for about six weeks, and I would like to complete the whole program. If time permits I would also like to take listening and pronunciation courses, too.”

HCC has two types of ESL classes. One is Academic Intensive ESL, best suited for students who want to master the language quickly and move on to academic college courses.

Workforce ESL courses are generally evening classes for people who work. Students take one class at a time. That’s the type Agus is taking.

“At the moment, what I’m struggling with listening and understanding when someone speaks to me. If I read or if someone speaks to me slowly, it is easier for me to understand,” the professional athlete says.

“Honestly, I’m very happy with my HCC class. They are helping me a lot in my daily and professional life.  What I’m learning is allowing me to better understand the coach and speak to my colleagues. I am sure that once I complete English Language Skill 5, it will make everything easier on my daily and professional life.”

What has impressed Agus most about his experience at HCC?

“I’m very happy with the classes, teachers, classmates, and HCC employees,” he affirms. “Everyone has been very kind and helpful to us, and that is very important when you are in a country that is not yours.”

He is quick to recommend ESL courses to others struggling with the language.

“My advice to people that do not speak the language is: don’t hesitate to sign up for ESL classes! It will help you have a better life, professionally and personally, in the long run.

And HCC is a great place anybody looking for ESL classes.”

Photo Credit: Trask Smith