Languages and Learning: Adult Education at the Free Library

By Meredith M. RSS Thu, April 11, 2024

The Free Library’s mission is to advance literacy, guide learning, and inspire curiosity for all Philadelphians. You’re probably familiar with our many branches and departments, along with the incredible resources and programs offered to our communities. Did you know the Free Library has an entire department dedicated to adult learning? Languages and Learning is the Library’s home for adult education!

Established in 2019, the Languages and Learning Department started as a physical space at Parkway Central Library where adult learners could access educational materials at an actual Languages and Learning Center (LLC). The LLC offered programs in English and world language learning, adult basic literacy, workforce development, and digital literacy. The Department worked closely with the Mayor’s Office of Adult Education and organizations around the city.

Now, five years later, Languages and Learning has gone through changes! We are still serving the city’s adult learners in many ways. Nowadays, there’s no physical Languages and Learning Center at Parkway Central; you’ll now find language learning materials on the shelves in the Literature Department at Parkway Central and at your neighborhood branch. Workplace, now part of the Business Resource and Innovation Center (BRIC), is where you can find resources for job seekers and digital literacy initiatives. 

As part of the Free Library’s Adult Services and Programming Division, Languages and Learning strengthened its focus on supporting the individual literacy and learning goals of Philadelphia’s adults. We continue to offer programs, both in-person and virtually, with a special focus on English language learners, adults learning to read, and learners preparing for the GED test

Some of our current program offerings include English conversation groups, where English language learners practice their conversation skills with other learners in a casual space, and Adult Basic Literacy, where adults can learn to read and write with a trained instructor. For Spanish speakers looking to learn to read and write, we offer Leamos! at Lillian Marrero and Whitman libraries. In addition to these programs, we offer world language learning and one-on-one tutoring, plus general reference on adult learning in the city. In 2024, we’re working more closely with neighborhood libraries to introduce even more adult learning programs into the branches. 

We are also the Library’s home for the city’s Language Access Plan. The City of Philadelphia is committed to ensuring that all people, regardless of language, have access to City services and information. In 2015, Philadelphians voted to amend the Home Rule Charter to require all City agencies to provide language access services. Every library must provide services in other languages when needed and requested by a patron, regardless of citizenship or residency status. Next time you visit your neighborhood branch, look for the “Language Help Here!” posters. 

Languages and Learning wouldn’t be able to do all we do without the work of our incredible volunteers. From leading our conversation groups to tutoring individuals to help them meet their learning goals, we are grateful for their hard work.

If you'd like to volunteer with adult learners at the Library, please complete the Free Library Volunteer Application and the Office of Children and Families Next Level Learning Tutor Training Form. 

To keep up with the latest at Languages and Learning at the Free Library, sign up for our monthly newsletter. You can find our programs on the Free Library’s website and in our frequently updated program guide. To contact us directly, call 215-686-8664 or email

In the spirit of lifelong learning, we hope this blog post taught you something new about the Library and the importance of adult education! 

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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Hello, I want to study English online with Zoom. Is it possible?
Kristine - Philadelphia
Monday, April 15, 2024

Hi Kristine - I've sent you an email from with our online English options. Let me know if you have any questions!
Meredith M. - Languages and Learning @ FLP
Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Aomoa una familia, y nos duataria indoemacion para eatudiar y aprender Ingles, mi esposa y yo 37 años y nuestra hija 6 años
Julian - Filadelfia
Thursday, April 25, 2024

Hola Julian, te envié un correo electrónico desde
Meredith M. - Languages and Learning FLP
Friday, April 26, 2024