Announcing the Languages and Learning Center!

By Liz A. RSS Mon, September 16, 2019

September is Adult Education Month and the Free Library is excited to announce the launch of the Languages and Learning Center at Parkway Central Library, a center dedicated to supporting the individual learning goals of Philadelphia’s adults.

Nationwide, more than 36 million American adults struggle to read, write, do math, and use technology above a third grade level. Led by a commitment to community engagement, the Languages and Learning Center will provide exceptional customer service, relevant and engaging programs and resources for adult basic education (ABE), English language learning (ELL), world language learning, and digital literacy. Much of this work will support workforce development; if people lack basic print, numeracy, and digital literacy skills, there can be barriers to finding sustainable employment. According to the National Council for Adult Learning, low literacy costs the U.S. at least $225 billion each year in non-productivity in the workforce, crime, and loss of tax revenue due to unemployment.

The Languages and Learning Center is co-located within the Education, Philosophy, and Religion Department, in the northeast corner of the second floor of Parkway Central Library. You can also contact the Center by email at

As of September 2019, you’ll also be able to find books and resources—such as world language books and audiobooks, and English language learning books and DVDs—for adult learners in the Languages and Learning Center. You can also find test prep, career, resume, and career test books, as well as novels in foreign languages and easy-to-read books for adults.

And while we love books, they’re only part of what we’ll have to offer life-long learners. The Languages and Learning Center has plans to host English classes at Parkway Central Library and will work to expand ELL offerings across neighborhood libraries, supporting work to make all adult programming inclusive and accessible to English language learners. We will also work with the Culinary Literacy Center to continue to offer Edible Alphabet, our popular cooking and library-based ELL program.

For adult learners working to complete their GED, the Languages and Learning Center is partnering with Pathway Forward to offer GED-prep and ABE classes. For Spanish-speaking adult learners, the Kensington Library offers Leamos, an online, Spanish ABE resource. On Thursday, September 19, local author Fiona Harewood will be at the Languages and Learning Center speaking about her own educational journey to finish school as an adult, as told in her book I Did it...You Can, Too!

Adult learners who are interested in signing up for a GED class at the Free Library or at another location throughout Philadelphia, people who are interersted in volunteering as tutors, or adult education professionals in need of quality professional development can connect with the Mayor's Office of Adult Education to learn more. 

Want to learn or brush up on your Spanish? Join us for Spanish Language Learning Circles using Mango Languages, with both basic and intermediate Spanish series that meet weekly in the evenings. Interested in learning French, Tamil, Japanese, or any of the other more than 70 langauges offered by Mango? Talk to a Languages and Learning Center staff member about starting a learning circle for another language!

Our digital literacy initiative is still in the development phase, supported by a planning grant from Comcast. Geared towards adults with beginner digital literacy skills, the curriculum will support people in gaining the necessary skills to enter or advance in the workforce.

The Languages and Learning Center looks forward to advancing literacy, guiding learning, and inspiring curiosity for adult learners throughout Philadelphia. Come check us out!

Have a question for Free Library staff? Please submit it to our Ask a Librarian page and receive a response within two business days.

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I am thrilled at the wonderful step the Free Library of Philadelphia has taken in supporting adult learning.
Fiona Harewood - Philadelphia
Wednesday, September 18, 2019