We want to help you
For more than 40 years, Literacy Suffolk has helped adults become better English readers, writers, and speakers, primarily through individual tutoring.
- Our Basic Language Learners (BLL) program has helped hundreds of native English speakers to improve their reading and writing skills.
- Our English Language Learners (ELL) program has helped thousands of adults from 47 countries other than the United States learn conversational English, improve their ability to read and write English, and understand American culture.
You must be 16 years old and out of school to join either program.
Our services are free to students because we are funded by state and local governments, foundations, companies, and individuals. For us to continue to receive funding, students must:
- Meet with their tutor for at least two hours a week and complete at least 30 hours of tutoring over the course of the year.
- Let their tutor or their Literacy Suffolk coordinator know if their schedule changes. We recognize that you have a busy life and want to work with you so you can continue being tutored.
Remember, your tutor is a volunteer who spends considerable time planning your lessons and meeting with you. Please be respectful of that time commitment.
We do not have enough tutors to match every student who wants one, so please make the most of this opportunity.
Resources for students
There are many free resources for learning English. A great place to start is your local library. In addition to print resources, every library in Suffolk County subscribes to Pronunciator, a language learning program that you can use on your phone, as well as a computer.
The key to learning any language is daily practice. We recommend that you spend 5-10 minutes a day on your own building your English skills, even while working with a tutor, by using any of the resources listed below:
Ask a librarian at your local library to show you the books, videos, and other materials available to help you speak, read, and write English.
Learn English or any other language with this online program for beginning, intermediate, and advanced learners. The program also offers citizenship preparation. Register to use on your computer or phone for free use through your library.
Rosetta Stone charges a fee, but some libraries have access to the program, so check at your local library.
Free, fun way to learn English on your computer or phone.
Created by the University of Victoria for its adult English learners, the interactive site is a great tool for home practice for students at various levels of language proficiency.
Videos to help you learn English.
English language listening quizzes.
Improve your English skills, prepare for U.S. citizenship.
Practice for the written NYS driving test.
Great source for grammar explanations and other help.
English learning exercises for students of all levels.
Videos and easy vocabulary games and quizzes for students.
Improve your spoken English with lessons for conversational English on different levels, online or with a phone app.
FAQs for students
You will receive an email confirming that we received your application. And you are welcome to call with any questions.
Yes. There is no cost to the student because we are supported by government and private donations.
All students once matched are tested to determine their level of English proficiency. This helps your tutor plan for your sessions. You will also be tested after 30 hours of tutoring to check your progress.
When you meet your tutor for the first time, they will ask you what your goals are. You may, for instance, want to learn vocabulary that helps you talk to your child’s teacher, or you may want to be able to complete an online job application.
Your tutoring sessions are not classes. They are one-on-one sessions with your tutor.
Literacy Suffolk does support small-group language classes in the workplace [with link to Workplace Literacy section] and at churches. Most of our students, however, learn English in individual sessions with a tutor.
You will meet with your tutor once or twice a week for at least two hours a week at a convenient time for both of you. We expect both you and your tutor to meet together for at least a year.
We recognize that your schedule may change. If you are unable to continue meeting your tutor on a certain day or time, let your tutor know or contact a Literacy Suffolk program coordinator who can help you stay in the program.
At this time, it’s best to assume that you will be tutored primarily in person.
Most students are tutored in libraries, but you can be tutored in any public place, including outside in a park.
You cannot be tutored at home.
BLL tutors are sensitive to this issue and will work on finding a setting like a separate room in the library where you can work together. Literacy Suffolk also has special BLL materials for native adult speakers learning to read.
All students are tested before they are matched with a tutor to determine the level of English proficiency. This helps tutors choose learning activities geared to their student’s ability.
Students are also tested after every 30 hours of instruction to measure their progress and to help tutors plan future lessons.
You cannot fail these tests. They are used to see how best your tutor can help you.