Immigrants And Refugees
Immigrants and Refugees

English Online at The International Center of Catholic Charities

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto

Back on March 16th, 2020 all in-person activities stopped at the International Center of Catholic Charities Community Services (‘the Center’). The Center plays a big role in immigrant and refugee communication skills, which are a vital part of becoming active and successful in New York City.

Their work is so important that when the doors closed, the Center quickly turned their in-person operation into collaborative online meetings and classes. What began with 8 online classes in March has grown to become 30 weekly classes as of June. Mondays through Fridays the Center offers learning and practicing opportunities like

  • Beginner, Intermediate and Advance English to speakers of other languages (ESOL)
  • Literature and Film
  • Creating Conversations in Everyday Life
  • Grammar
  • News of Interest

…and much more.

In addition to online group courses, the Center also has a one-on-one conversation partner program, also online. The Center also offers phone support should students ever have challenges with online access. And that kind of thoughtful support means a lot to the Center’s students.

“I appreciate all of the staff and volunteers at International Center. They help me to study English for free. I hope this service can continue and I want to be a volunteer someday.”

“I’m very proud and grateful to belong to the International Center. It is important to me to continue seeing my classmates and teacher, I really appreciate them. I’m improving my English. The English class makes me forget the pandemic while I am in it.”

Those two quotes come from students, from Hong Kong and Colombia respectively, both of whom had no proficiency in the English language not long ago.


Every year the Center teaches English language classes, as well as skill workshops, cultural programs and social services to hundreds of students a year from over 70 different countries. In 2019 alone, the Center engaged 1904 immigrants and newcomers to America, teaching them not only language, but citizenship preparation. Services are run, in large part, by volunteers – native speakers of English who gave over 6500 hours to the programs.

“Our mission of providing a warm and welcoming space for new immigrants,” said Elaine Roberts, the International Center’s director of programs, “is more important now than ever. Our students, many of them essential workers, are learning English to support their children’s school work, support their communities, and help rebuild the city’s economy.”


You can be a student by visiting

Or you can use the telephone: 646-481-2301

Being a student is FREE.

The International Center of Catholic Charities Community Services are there to give New Yorkers the skills they need to become citizens of our great city and country.