Learner Success Stories

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Each year, LCNV serves more than 1,500 adult English language learners from 90 different countries who speak 50 different languages. We are so proud of our learners and the hard work they put forth every day to improve their English speaking, reading, writing and comprehension skills, empowering them to change their lives, become more active in their children's lives, and access more opportunities. At the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia, we believe that literacy is a survival skill and a fundamental human right. Keep reading to learn more about  our learners- who they are, where they come from, their hopes, dreams, and where they're going next!

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Certificate of Completion Awarded to Milton Torres: Haag Certified Inspector- Residential Roofs
Congratulations, Milton!

Milton Torres is currently enrolled in LCNV’s Level 2 Beginning English class taught by Ms. Maura Sleevi and Ms. Robin. He recently shared with us that he received his certification as a roof inspector after completing a 12-hour course and his application for USA insurance was also approved. Congrats!

We love hearing from our learners - If you are a current student at LCNV or have taken classes with us in the past, we'd love to hear from you! Please email our Communications Coordinator, Caroline Walsh, at communications@lcnv.org or call 703-237-0866.

Milton’s Story: “It was like you put a seed in the ground, and it is growing!”

December 14, 2021 | Interviewed by Margery Leveen Sher


Milton lived with his parents in a tiny, broken-down house in a small, impoverished town in El Salvador. There were no jobs where he could earn enough money to feed his family well, so in 2003, Milton made the difficult decision to leave everything and everyone he knew and start the dangerous journey to the United States. He had one goal: to find a better life for himself, his family, and especially his parents.

When he finally arrived in the US, he found work in construction. He was dedicated to his work because, in addition to sending money back to his parents, he had a specific dream to be able to build a better house for them. And after many years, Milton succeeded. He actually was able to build his parents a good, solid house to live in.

One day Milton said to his wife, “I want to learn English so that I can be a roof inspector, rather than just one of the construction hands.” His wife asked him why this was important, and he told her it was a lack of English that was holding him back from advancement. So Milton googled how to learn English and he found LCNV. He called and was encouraged to apply. He started at Level 1 just last year and is now in Level 2. Milton learned surprisingly fast. When asked how he has learned so much in such a short time, he answered, “LCNV gave me a lot of confidence in my English. Because I have the confidence, I speak to everyone I can in English – in church, in stores, on the street – and I practice that way. Why, I even sing in English when I am driving!”

Milton says that what is most motivating to him in the LCNV classes is the compassion of the teachers. They understand his challenges but also made him understand that he must motivate himself. He says that the teachers have changed his life, and also the lives of other generations – his parents, his children, his wife. He says “If I get a better job, it impacts many people. Everyone in my family will live better.” He goes on, “LCNV made me change. I was on a road, but did not have enough motivation. LCNV put me on the right road.”

Milton is very proud now because he has just earned his Inspector Certificate. He is working at a new company as an inspector, and also at his old company at his old job when he has the time. He told his teacher, “It was like you put a seed in the ground and it is growing!” Milton is thinking that maybe someday he can even become an engineer.

He is very wise. He explains, “When you study, your mind opens. You learn things that can never be taken away. When you get older, you begin to lose the ability to do physical labor, but you can never lose the knowledge you have gained. Nothing is impossible if you learn. It’s never too late. If I did it, other people can too!”

Griselda’s Story

Griselda felt stuck. She had worked in a hotel restaurant for seven years, but she began to realize that she could do more. When she thought about what was holding her back, one thing kept coming into her mind: she needed to learn English.

“It is very important to learn English in this country,” she said. “I want to get a better job and be able to help my son with his homework.“

One day, a friend told Griselda about LCNV, and she started class this year. “I am very comfortable at LCNV,” she says. “It is not too expensive, and the teachers are very good. Best of all, it feels like a family!”

What is Griselda’s big dream? “I want to open my own restaurant! I also want to speak really well and even write well.”