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Nonprofit BEACON to begin free learning circles April 18 for adults to learn English; sign up now

Nonprofit BEACON for English Language and Literacy is offering a new Learning Circles program to give adult learners a free opportunity to begin learning English on their own and with their peers. 

To participate in a BEACON Learning Circle, adult learners should be at least 18, reside in Prince William County, commit to learn/practice English through the award-winning Learning Upgrade app or website at their convenience, and join weekly online meetings on eight Tuesdays from 7 to 8:30 p.m. between April 18 and June 6. 

Space in this new eight-week program is limited, If the program is successful, BEACON hopes to add additional morning and evening Learning Circles and in-person or online weekly group meetings.

Learning Circles are built on the idea that every member has something to contribute and learn from the group in a flexible, peer-directed learning experience.  BEACON’s weekly online learning circle meetings will be facilitated by a fluent English speaker.

Jennifer Katac, BEACON’s Executive Director, said the new Learning Circles program was established because the organization has struggled to meet an increased demand for English language classes. Despite the best efforts of volunteer instructors, there are not enough classes to enroll all the community members who want to learn English.

BEACON currently has 265+ adult learners enrolled in the spring class session. In 2022, some 124 volunteers provided more than 12,000 hours of instruction.

“We are thrilled to add Learning Circles to our program to help adult learners gain access to the tools necessary to begin learning English,” Katac says. “It can be very challenging to learn another language, and the demand for our adult ESOL classes has increased significantly over the last few years.  This new program will provide English learning access to adult learners who have not yet joined a more formal program and connect them with their peers who are also learning English.”

BEACON staff have been collaborating with the Virginia Adult Learning Resources Center to create a toolkit to share best practices with other area ESOL programs that wish to implement learning circles and has also received some grant funding to support Learning Circles.

Learn more at and click on the “contact me” button to express interest in enrolling in the free program. Enrollment has started.  Sponsors can donate $60 to support an adult learner in the program and to help defray the costs of the new program by clicking the “sponsor a student” button on the BEACON Learning Circles page.

For more information, email Jennifer Katac at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or call (703) 331-5513.

BEACON aims to empower Prince William County adult English Language Learners to achieve their educational and employment goals by offering low cost English and Citizenship classes. The non-profit community-based literacy organization was founded in 1992 by Sister Eileen Heaps of the Benedictine Sisters of Virginia and has been named One of the Best Charities by the Catalogue for Philanthropy for the past three years. BEACON offers eight levels of English classes from Pre-Literacy to Advanced Grammar and Composition, in addition to Citizenship classes in three 12-week sessions each year and also offers three-week summer conversation classes. When possible, BEACON also provides tutoring to meet unique needs. Volunteers teach BEACON’s morning and evening classes in-person at three locations in Manassas and Manassas Park and also online. In the past year students from 48 different countries, speaking 25 native languages have enrolled.

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