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One of the things that makes Washington English Center so special is our volunteers. It is the dedication of our volunteers that allows us to provide such a great service; making an invaluable difference to the immigrants we serve. Most of our volunteers find it such a rewarding experience they return term after term, many having been with us for years. A few quotes from our volunteers:


“Oh, my goodness. Working with these students from around the world has enriched my life greatly! It’s a highlight of my week.”


“It is evident that WEC is improving its program on all fronts and continues to offer an important service to the DC ‘s community of immigrants”


“Teaching at WEC has been a terrific experience. The staff who support us volunteers are professional and personable and have a ton of expertise to offer. The school is a real gem.”


“Alyssa and Emily have been very supportive and always responsive to whatever need we have”


“Great WEC staff. Very knowledgeable and helpful. THANKS!! THANKS!! THANKS!!”


“I love being around people who are trying to improve their lives. The students are inspiring.”


Volunteering is good for your career and for your social life!


A volunteer survey found that «87% said volunteering was helping their careers, 34% found a job or changed careers as a result of volunteering and one in four said they met a romantic partner through volunteer work!” Reported in The Chronicle of Philanthropy, April 2004.



As a volunteer, you can assist as:

An ESL teacher
A tutor
A Language Lab teacher
A computer skills teacher
A writing group leader
A conversation group leader
A citizenship teacher
Assisting with our newsletter
Office Duties
Outreach and Fundraising



There are three 12-week terms per year and an abbreviated 6-week summer session:


• Fall Term: mid-September to early December
• Winter Term: mid-January to end of March
• Spring Term: mid-April to end of June
• Summer Term: mid-July to end of August


During the three 12-week terms, classes meet at the following times:
• Monday-Thursday, 7pm – 9pm
• Tuesday and Thursday, 10am – 1pm
• Monday and Wednesday, 10am – 1pm
• Saturday and Sunday, 2 – 5pm
• Sunday, 9am – 12pm


 Classes during the 6-week Summer session (mid-July to end of August) meet at the following times :

• Monday-Wednesday, 6:30pm – 8:30pm
• Tuesday and Thursday, 10am – 1pm
• Saturday and Sunday, 2 – 5pm


We have also begun to offer English Conversation Groups at Georgetown Public Library! We are looking for volunteers to co-teach these fun groups. Please let a program manager know if you are interested in co-teaching!


Volunteer Qualifications:

All Volunteers must:

• Be 20 years old or older;
• Be a native or fluent English speaker;
• Be willing to make a 12-week commitment;
• Be willing to attend training before and during each session;
• Have regular access to email
• Have the desire to work with adults from different cultural, educational, and economic backgrounds


Washington English Center does NOT require volunteers to have prior teaching experience. We require volunteers to attend at least one of the two trainings provided before the term begins, and we provide additional training and on-going support throughout the term. We also encourage new volunteers to observe a class, when possible.


Volunteering does NOT require that you speak a second language. Our ESL classes are taught in English and students are encouraged to use only English in the classroom.


We provide teachers with a class syllabus, quizzes, tests, and a teacher’s guide, all matched to the level being taught. Our Program Director and Volunteer Coordinators are available for questions and support before and during each class session. We also have a variety of additional materials, resources, and books that are available for volunteers to use in their classes.


Volunteer Commitment:
The volunteer commitment for teaching is 1 day per week, 2-3 hours per week for the 12-week term. In addition, teachers must attend an orientation and one additional training workshop during the term. The volunteer commitment for tutoring is 1 day per week, 1 hour per week through the end of the current term.

Volunteer absences are discouraged, but in the event of an emergency, we ask that you notify your Volunteer Coordinator immediately so we can attempt to find a substitute.


Feel free to contact one of our volunteer coordinators to discuss volunteering:



Elizabeth Madjlesi

TELEPHONE: 202-387-0023




To read our Washington English Teacher’s Corner blog, which is by and for our teachers, click the BLOG button at the top of each page of this website.




Emily Shroder – Federal Analyst, Deloitte Consulting

Throughout college, tutoring foreign graduate students in writing English was one of my favorite activities. These incredibly bright students challenged themselves to learn high-level material in a second language and as I helped them learn how to improve their papers, I learned just as much from them.

When I joined Deloitte, I wanted to get involved in something similar but didn’t know where to begin. Soon after I started at the firm, I heard about the opportunity to volunteer with Language ETC from a fellow Analyst who was involved with the group. Language ETC is a community-based organization offering English and literacy training to low-income immigrants. Immediately, I knew that this was right up my alley; it was an opportunity to work with self-motivated adult immigrants learning English in order to improve their lives in the US.

My first semester volunteering at Language ETC, I taught a three hour class each Sunday to a group of nine adult students. The students came from diverse backgrounds—I had an Egyptian man who worked at the Egyptian consulate, a Vietnamese woman who worked as a personal chef for a British family, and two Peruvian nannies. Though different students come to class for different reasons, they all share a motivation to improve their English that is truly inspiring. On the last day of the semester, one of the students came up and presented me with a thank-you card and a dish filled with her homemade Peruvian chicken. I was touched by the gesture and told her what a great job she’d done throughout the class. I was surprised to see tears in her eyes as I spoke. “I got my US citizenship,” she said, “Your class helped me pass the test.” Just by volunteering a couple hours of my time every weekend, I had had a profound impact on this student’s life. This fall, I can’t wait to meet my new students.


Yesenia Mancia – Sr. Project Controller, Deloitte Consulting

I was introduced to Language ETC during a luncheon to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month held by HNet last fall. As the director of Language ETC spoke of the difficult language barrier that her students attempted to overcome, memories from my time learning English as a second language floated back. That day, I realized it was time to give back to my community.

I started tutoring Carmen last winter. She is a 57 years old native of Ecuador. She immigrated to the United States five years ago knowing absolutely no English. Although she secured a job as a live-in nanny, language remained a barrier. When I first met Carmen, she was taking the lowest level English course and struggling to properly communicate with her boss and the children she cared for.

We would meet as often as possible at the school or at a coffee shop to go over her homework, pronunciation, vocabulary words, any general questions, etc… It was around June of this past year that Carmen called me to explain that she didn’t think she could pass her final examination. I reassured her that it would only require a little extra effort from her part and that the extra challenge would only make her stronger. I also committed myself to continue to tutor her throughout the upcoming season.

We ramped up the sessions, meeting a couple of hours each week. She’d ask me to write basic words on her pocketbook such as the difference and pronunciation of leaving vs. living, thirteen vs. thirty, or fourth vs. fourteen, clothes vs. close, household words, etc… Seeing her smile when she understood the difference between those words gave me immense satisfaction. Carmen ended up passing that final exam and moved up to the next level of English.

Tutoring Carmen made me go back in time to when I came to the US and first learned English. It was not easy; it required a lot of effort and patience on my part. Language is a barrier, a barrier that makes us blind, and makes us unable to get to know the strengths and value of people. Getting to know people in a personal way, understanding their struggles, background, and dreams to succeed is what I’ve enjoyed most in my experience at Language ETC. “Haciendo la diferencia, for a better future”.


Judie Guy, 2B

I began volunteering at LETC as a tutor just last year after a long career in communications with the federal government. When I first met the delightful student assigned to me, I couldn’t imagine why she had come to LETC – her English conversational skills were that good! But I soon learned she’d had little formal schooling either here or in her native country, so she was anxious to work on reading and writing English. We laughed about the fact that I have the opposite challenges as I struggle with her language (Spanish) — I’ve got the grammar down, but stumble in conversation.

While I continue to enjoy my tutoring, I’m thrilled to be teaching a 2B class this year as well. And what I’m finding most fascinating about the classroom is the range of skills, learning styles, and backgrounds students bring. Each student is unique. A few are like the student I tutor – quick to speak but without much experience writing and reading. Some aren’t literate at all in a first language. Others arrive with plenty of education, but no experience with the Roman alphabet. Still others have a fair grasp of written English, but aren’t at all confident speaking. And they come from so many different countries and speak so many different languages! The 20 or so students in our 2B class this term come from 15 different countries and speak at least five different languages. Meeting the needs of such diverse students really keeps the teacher on her toes! But helping them work toward a common goal is immensely satisfying. And watching them come together and help each other along the way thrills me and gives me such hope for our shrinking world.


Karen Saville, 4A

This is my fourth semester at Language ETC and I am consistently impressed at what a fantastic organization it is. I have taught ESL at other schools both in the U.S and abroad, but have not found any to be as well-run as this one. The students are always positive, optimistic and upbeat, even after long days at work. The staff is always available and responsive, making sure we have the resources and training necessary to provide our students with the best education possible

The other teachers have also enhanced my Language ETC experience. My co-teachers and teams are altruistic, down-to-earth people who are eager to give back to the community. I always look forward to the night I teach because I know it will be an evening surrounded by quality people and challenging fun.


Sheila Madhani

This is my second quarter at Language ETC as an Instructor. Last quarter I taught Level 1A and this quarter I am teaching Level 1B. This is my first real teaching experience and I absolutely love it. At first I was apprehensive because I was not sure if I was up to the challenge and a quarter and half later I think I am still trying to figure it out. I feel like I learn something new every class. I have found the web to be a treasure trove of ideas to make class more fun; the Language ETC staff as well as my fellow volunteer teachers are also wonderful resources. Making the students laugh- even when it is at me and not with me – goes a long way. Using chocolate to encourage class participation does not hurt either.