In 1993, at the request of Our Lady Queen of the Americas Catholic Church,  a handful of volunteers taught evening and Sunday classes to 200 Central American parishioners. With access to a single computer, classes focused on English as a second language, graduate equivalency degrees, and U.S. Citizenship.  Job openings were posted on a bulletin board.

From that beginning, Washington English Center has expanded the English literacy education and workforce preparation programs provided by volunteer teachers and tutors to adult immigrants from across the greater Washington area. Today, students, who represent over 100 countries and a variety of world religions, learn from 350 volunteer teachers each term. Students use two computer labs for language lesson reinforcement, computer literacy instruction and job searches.  The Employment Services program combines job counseling with industry certifications and career workshops. Conversation reading, chorus clubs, class field trips, and local services and health fairs create a strong sense of community.

OUR Vision and MISSION

Our vision is that all immigrants gain the education and support they need to build a better future for themselves and for their families.  Our mission is to have volunteer teachers, tutors and coaches provide excellent and affordable English literacy classes and workforce preparation programs to adult immigrants.  Washington English Center provides these services to all individuals - regardless of race, color, national or ethnic origin, or income.

OUR Core values

We believe that:

  • Speaking English is the key to an improved quality of life for immigrants
  • English language proficiency is vital to acquiring other skills
  • Volunteer teachers and tutors are our most critical assets for helping our students achieve their goals
  • The combination of English language instruction and volunteer participation fosters improved understanding between immigrants and the community at large

Age does not define our students!  They range in age from 18 to 86

They  have varied levels of education. (Almost half of our students have 7 years or less of formal education; 38% were able to attend middle or high school; and approximately  18% have attended or finished college).

Our students are very hard-working!  85% have one or more jobs

Our Founder 


As we celebrate the accomplishments of our students, teachers, coaches and staff this past year, enabled by our generous donors and sponsors, we do so with profound admiration for Pilar Laugel, the founder of our school. Pilar provided Washington English Center's vision and was the motivating force behind this thriving community based service organization for many years.