Skip navigation
Milwaukee Public Library Hours & Locations Close

Refugee and Immigrant Services (ESL/ELL)

Refugee and Immigrant Services (ESL/ELL)


English Reading Hour 

Practice reading and speaking English with fellow English Language Learners. The only cost is an hour of your time (it’s free to participate)! Every monthly session we read comic strips, prose and poems, and we read lyrics and then listen to songs. We answer any pronunciation, spelling, or grammar questions that appear and we discuss possible meanings behind the readings and how they make us feel. There’s learning and discussion and friends to be made in a friendly and nurturing setting. If English is your Second Language, then come read and learn with us! 

Second Monday of the Month from 4-5 PM CST


January 9, February 13, March 13

Please register for the program here.

[English Reading/Conversation Hour pdf]


English Listening Hour

Does your English practice sometimes feel like a broken record? Tired of the same old song and dance? Join other English language learners for a music listening hour and fine tune your English skills! Together we will read lyrics, listen to popular songs, and discuss questions about content and vocabulary. Sign up if this sounds like music to your ears -- all are welcome to attend and practice in this relaxed, supportive, fun environment.

January 26, 2023
Please register for the program here.


English Conversation Hour

A free weekly conversation session for adult English language learners. Strategies for "small talk" and getting-to-know-you activities, as well as games and structured practice to activate vocabulary and language skills, are offered in a relaxed and supportive environment. Everyone is welcome! 

Tuesdays from 4-5 PM CST


January 3, 10, 17, 24, 31; February 7, 14, 21, 28; March 7, 14, 21, 28

Please register for the program here.


Job Literacy for Refugees and Immigrants 

This class helps beginning-level ESL/ELL job seekers gain the language skills and cultural understandings needed to function successfully in today’s workplace.  The class covers job vocabulary, workplace culture and job seeking. 

Mondays, 5-6 PM


Feb. 20, Mar. 20

Please Register for this class here

Northstar Digital Literacy

Northstar Digital Literacy is an online tool that provides assessments, instructor-led curricula and self-directed online learning for basic digital literacy skills with a focus on ABE and ELL students. Organizations can use Northstar resources to determine needs, provide relevant instruction, and track results.    NorthStar Digital Literacy is provided with support from Wisconsin Literacy. Please email for more information or to get started!


Learning Upgrade

Learning Upgrade is a learning app that can be used on a smartphone, tablet, or web browser that includes over 1440 standards-based lessons that are individualized, self-paced, and comprehensive. Students can complete a placement exam to determine their current level and receive onboarding support in multiple languages. The app uses songs, video, and interactive practice questions to engage learners independently with multiple learning styles. The smartphone-based remote curriculum includes Literacy, ESL, ABE, Math, TOEFL/IELTS and GED Prep content.  Learning Upgrade is provided with support from Wisconsin Literacy. Please email for more information or to get started!


Voces de la Frontera Citizenship Classes 

In partnership with MPL, Voces de la Frontera is offering Beginner Citizenship Classes for the English Exam. All students MUST register before attending the classes with Jeanette Arellano 414-236-0415 or Paola Barragan 262-346-4027. All students must have at least 5 years residency or 3 years as a permanent resident who is married to a U.S. citizen. In Person is limited. Masks required. Class is presented in English and Spanish.

Wednesdays, 4:30 PM to 5:45 PM
No classes Wednesday, December 21 and 28
Mitchell Street Branch


Additional ESL/ELL Resources

MPL offers additional resources for English as a Second Language (ESL) and English Language Learners (ELL). Central’s Adult Study Center has various materials to improve one’s English. This material is available for specific ESL/ELL languages as well as general ESL/ELL. Many of the branch libraries in the MPL system also offer ESL/ELL materials.

MPL subscribes to Mango Languages, Pronunciator, and Transparent Languages electronic resources. These subscription sites offer language-specific ESL modules in many different languages. In addition Learning Express offers practice tests for ESL tests, and  the Gale Courses database has a number of ESL courses. 

ESL/ELL Virtual Office Hours

Need additional help learning English?  Have questions about English conversation?  Email us at to set up a day and time to work virtually with a trained ESL MPL Librarian. 


Want to practice writing English with a native speaker? Try our ESL/ELL Pen Pal program!  An MPL librarian will correspond with you through email to practice writing and reading comprehension. For more information or to get started email us at

For more information on the services we provide including partnerships please contact the Refugee and Immigrant Services Committee:
(414) 286-0816 - Phone number for Refugee and Immigrant Services Chair Eric Johnson



"Participating in English Reading Hour and in English Conversation Hour at the Milwaukee Public Library from the Dominican Republic has been a great thing for me. It helped me finish my English program successfully and I had a lot of fun in every meeting. Take advantage of this great opportunity!" - Nelida

"I love English Conversation Hour.  The librarians are super enthusiastic and cheerful.  They teach us a lot of vocabulary and answer questions.  I feel more confident when talking to people.  It has helped me a lot.  I am able to speak better, understand better and I can share my stories with everyone. The program is also very relaxed and fun. Thank you very much!" - Van Trang

"Attending English Conversation Hour makes me happy. I learn new words and improve my pronunciation. The librarians that teach us are very friendly and patient! We meet people from all over the world!" - Polina

"One of the good things from 2020 was the time I spent practicing English with some other English Language Learners. The virtual meeting was like a refuge for me.  In this class I practice my English and I have been noticing improvements in my knowledge of the language.  We talk about our weekend recaps, food, festivities, and then have open discussion which opens up more learning.  The classes are all very nice. There is no way to forget the English expressions and phrasal verbs presented to us in the English Conversation Hour.  I feel really thankful because of the job the librarians have done for us."  - Lidia


Recorded Programs

Explore Our Suggestions:

Recently Added

A Wrinkle in Time
A Wrinkle in Time
by Madeleine L’Engle

Meg Murry and her friends become involved with unearthly strangers and search for Meg's father, who has disappeared while engaged in secret work for the government.

Bless Me, Ultima
Bless Me, Ultima
by Rudolfo A. Anaya

Ultima, one who cures with magic, comes to Antonio’s New Mexico family when he is six years old; she helps him discover himself in the magic of the pagan past.

And Then There Were None
And Then There Were None
by Agatha Christie

Ten strangers, each with a secret, are gathered on an island by a mysterious host. One by one, they die, and before the weekend is out, there will be none.

Astonishing Color of After
Astonishing Color of After
by Emily X.R. Pan

After her mother's suicide, grief-stricken Leigh Sanders travels to Taiwan to stay with grandparents she never met, determined to find her mother who she believes turned into a bird.

Charlotte's Web
Charlotte's Web
by E B White

When he discovers that he is destined to be someone's dinner, Wilbur the pig is desolate until his spider friend Charlotte decides to help him.

The Great Gatsby
The Great Gatsby
by F Scott Fitzgerald

Gatsby---young, handsome, and rich---always seems alone in the crowd, watching and waiting. An obsession that can never be fulfilled soon will force his world to unravel.

All the Names They Used for God
All the Names They Used for God
by Anjali Sachdeva

A haunting, diverse debut story collection that explores the isolation we experience in the face of the mysterious, often dangerous forces that shape our lives.

View on CountyCat
Anne of Green Gables
Anne of Green Gables
by L M Montgomery

Anne, eleven-year-old orphan, is sent by mistake to live with a middle-aged brother and sister on a Prince Edward Island farm and proceeds to make an impression on everyone.

Interpreter of Maladies
Interpreter of Maladies
by Jhumpa Lahiri

In nine stories imbued with the sensual details of Indian culture, Lahiri charts the emotional journeys of characters seeking love beyond the barriers of nations and generations.

The Bad Beginning
The Bad Beginning
by Lemony Snicket

After the sudden death of their parents, the three Baudelaire children must depend on each other; their distant relative who is appointed their guardian is determined to get their fortune.