Free English Classes Available In Seattle

Q.: I have a Czech cousin coming over to the states for several months in the hope of learning English. He will be living with me, but I plan to arrange some English classes to help him. He’ll be on quite a strict budget, so I’m looking for something not-too-pricey. Do you have any ideas?

– M.P. via Internet

A.: There are a variety of free English-language classes offered in the Seattle area. Some are primarily for low-income refugees or immigrants, sponsored by state grants and nonprofit organizations. Others are offered through community colleges and Seattle Public Schools. Try one of these:

— St. James Cathedral on Seattle’s First Hill offers classes, one-on-one tutoring and conversation labs for mainly low-income immigrants and refugees. 382-4511.

— Literacy Action Center in Seattle’s Greenwood offers one ESL class, one-on-one tutoring and conversation labs. Anyone is welcome. 782-2050.

— Seattle Central Community College on Capitol Hill offers free beginning courses for residents. 587-4180. The school also offers a 10-week course for nonresidents for $ 1,800. 587-3893.

— Hawthorne Elementary School in South Seattle offers free evening conversation classes. Anyone is welcome. 760-4710.

— Highland Park Elementary School in Southwest Seattle offers free classes for adults, both in English language and citizenship. Anyone is welcome. 937-7680.

The Seattle School District also offers free English-language classes on computers for students and adults at various school learning centers. The district also operates the Sharples Bilingual Orientation Center in South Seattle for families with limited English skills. The center, which opened last month, helps parents enroll their children in Seattle Public Schools.

Mary Kyle, program manager of transitional bilingual education for the Seattle School District, said she hopes the center will help to include more parents in their children’s education by assisting with one of the main barriers
– language. The new center offers help in eight major languages.

Prior to the start of school, staff members from the Bilingual Family Center went into the community to enroll children in school. Kyle said the effort was a tremendous success.

“Some parents don’t even realize their child needs to go to school,” she said. “We’re trying our best to reach out.

“If a child is going to be successful in school, you have to get parents involved.”

Q.: How often do schools change principals? Does the state have a policy, or is it up to each district?

– C.L., Kent

A.: The frequency which schools change principals varies among districts and between elementary and secondary schools, said Mike Boring, assistant executive director of the Washington Association of School Administrators. Typically, he said, elementary principals remain in their positions for at least 10 years while middle-school and high-school principals tend to move around more often. But, it also depends on the size of the district. In larger districts there’s more mobility because there are more options, Boring said.

Education Q&A is a regular Monday feature in The Seattle Times prepared by Times education reporters. Call in your questions to our Education Hotline at 206-464-3339, or write to Education Q&A c/o The Seattle Times, P.O. Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111; FAX to Education Q&A at 206-464-2261 or e-mail at

School guides on the Web:

The two editions of The Seattle Times Guide to Schools – a guide to high schools, published in November 1996, and a guide to elementary, middle and junior highs, published in November 1997 – are available on the World Wide Web:

Comments are closed.