English Language Learners

Madison College campuses and buildings are currently closed in response to COVID-19. ESL Classes will start online as of Monday, March 30. We are working to have staff members available to assist you remotely. To best serve you please email the School of Academic Advancement:


For General Assistance and Advising Inquiries saa@madisoncollege.edu

For GED/HSED Assistance hscc@madisoncollege.edu  

For Testing saatesting@madisoncollege.edu



Do you want to learn English to earn a certificate or study at Madison College? At Madison College, all English Language Learners can get the help they need to succeed in school, work and in life. Our English as a Second Language (ESL) classes are free and provide you support to improve your reading, writing and oral language skills. We offer Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced ESL classes, we have the right courses for all of your needs! 

To take ESL classes at Madison College, you must:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Reside in the state of Wisconsin

Please click HERE to view all ESL classes

  • ESL Courses Eligibility Requirements
    Currently, we do not offer ESL classes to tourists visiting for temporary travel, au pairs or individuals with temporary visas. This includes individuals with visas sponsored by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, WESLI, or other institutions of higher education. If you are a professor, student or spouse of a scholar please consider additional community resources and off-campus options (PDF) available to you. 
    If you are interested in becoming or maintaining the F student visa, please visit our ​Center for International Education services at Madison College.
    We are here to serve you, if you would like to talk to a staff member further, please call (608) 258-2440 Opt 8 or email saa@madisoncollege.edu
  • New Students

    Currently due to COVID-19 campus closing restrictions please call 608-258-2440 Opt. 8 to discuss next steps.


    If you are new to Madison College and/or have never taken any ESL classes:

    If you are unsure, you can search if you already have a current account by entering your information. 

    Step 1: Create a New Student account

    • Visit Goodman South Campus to create a New Student Account
    • 2429 Perry St., Madison, WI 53713
    • Room 127

    Step 2: Attend Open Testing for ESL Classes

    • Your test score will determine your ESL level
    • You will need to arrive at least 2 hours before the end of Open Testing
    • Testing is offered the following days:
      • Monday: 9:00 am - 1:00 pm and 4:00 pm - 8:00 pm 
      • Thursday: 9:00 am - 1:00 pm and 4:00 pm - 8:00 pm 

    Step 3: Attend ESL Advising & Registration Session

    (For Intermediate and Advanced ONLY)

  • Returning Students

    Step 1: 

    If you have taken any ESL class at Madison College before you may need to take the ESL test to help determine which level course best meets your needs or attend an Advising and Registration Session.

    Step 2: 

    Please contact our office at (608) 258-2440 Option 8 and we will tell you if you need to take the ESL Placement Test, sign up for Advising & Registration or help you register for ESL classes.

  • Advising & Registration Session

    Intermediate and Advanced Level Students ONLY

    You will need to attend an Advising & Registration Session BEFORE you can enroll in classes. 

    YOU MUST REGISTER IN PERSON OR CALL: (608) 258-2440 Opt. 8

    • The Advising & Registration Session takes about 1-2 hours.
    • Advising & Registration Sessions are offered on Tuesdays 5:30 p.m. and/or Fridays 8:30 a.m.
    • There is NO childcare provided.

    At Advising & Registration, you will:

    • Listen to a brief overview and presentation about the ESL program
    • Learn about the ESL Level classes that are offered
    • Select classes
    • Receive assistance with class registration
    • If you have a disability and need accommodations, please call  (608) 246-6716 and we will make sure you have what you need in order to participate.

  • ESL Classes

    Please click HERE to view all ESL class descriptions. 


    • ESL Beginner and Intermediate levels are currently offered at our Goodman South Campus on 2429 Perry St., Madison WI 53713.
    • Advanced ESL level will ONLY be offered at the Truax Campus  on 1701 Wright Street, Madison, WI 53704.
    • You must have updated ESL test scores in order to register for classes.


    • Students who have identified a specific career pathway but need to build language proficiency in a career-related domain.
    • Students who know they want to earn a certificate, diploma, or degree in less than two years (after they finish ESL).
    • Students who want to finish ESL and start a career in a chosen field as soon as possible.
    • Students who already have a job and want to improve their English skills to perform that job better or move up in their company.


    • Students who have a degree from their home country, and want to work in the same field in the US once they gain accredited certification. 
    • Students who know they want to earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree from a four-year institution.
    • Students who intend to be in school for more than four years after they finish ESL courses.
    • Students who aspire to learn English for academic purposes.
  • Community Resources

    Madison College also works together with community partners to offer ESL classes at other locations around the Madison area. These classes take place in a flexible lab setting so you can attend when it best fits your schedule. You don’t need an appointment to take ESL classes at one of these outreach locations, you can just drop in and register during scheduled class time. Contact the School of Academic Advancement at (608) 258-2440 for more information about off-campus options. (PDF)


  • Success Stories
    Meet Bertha Ortiz-ESL Success Story at Madison College

    Bertha (Mexico)

    Bertha started in beginning ESL and earned her GED at Madison College. She learned English so she can communicate better with her co-workers and her supervisors at her job. 



    Meet Lili Jones - Madison College ESL Success Story

    Lili (China)

    Lili was brand new to the country when she began taking ESL classes. She earned her GED at Madison College and is enrolled in the liberal arts transfer program at Madison College and wants to attend UW-Madison.



    Abondio - Madison College ESL Success Story

    Abondio (Sudan)

    Abondio started in ESL and finished his 5.09 HSED in 2014. He has a technical certificate in Machining from Madison College.

English Language Learners may also find these Madison College resources helpful: