Greater Norwalk Literacy Volunteers (GNLV) at Norwalk Public Library

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Our Mission

To teach adults to read, write, speak and understand English so that they may achieve their personal, educational, employment and civic goals.


Literacy Volunteers has had a presence in Norwalk for many years. Literacy Volunteers of Greater Norwalk opened in 1976 at the South Norwalk Library and moved to the Main Library building in the early 1980’s after the major addition was completed. It operated as a separate entity, funded by Family Services of Woodfield (FSW), a non-profit social services agency until 2013. Due to funding issues and a national economic change, FSW was no longer able to support the program.  Rather than lose or have interruption in services, the program was incorporated into the Library’s operation in 2013 thanks to funding from the Norwalk Public Library Board of Trustees. The name was changed to Greater Norwalk Literacy Volunteers at Norwalk Public Library. The City of Norwalk approved a budget increase fiscal year 2014-2015 so that the library could hire two part-time Coordinators and add the program as a permanent library department.

Who We Are

Greater Norwalk Literacy Volunteers at Norwalk Public Library is a member of ProLiteracy America, the largest adult literacy membership organization in the country. Monthly, we serve approximately 325 adult students who hail from over 30 countries. Some of our students are well-educated. Others have had little access to education. All share the same goal of improving their English to better their lives and the lives of their families. 

Many people looking to learn the English language or to improve their English language skills seek our program almost immediately following their arrival to Fairfield County.  With our help, they learn how to best navigate within a society that may differ drastically from the one they left. The tutors enlisted and trained by our department help to ease the transition from their homeland to Connecticut. 

Our staff includes a Program Coordinator and an Outreach and Input Coordinator. We presently have 60 volunteers who tutor students in small groups.  

What We Do

Literacy Volunteers’ coordinators recruit, train and guide volunteers to help adults improve their English skills. Tutors and students work together for a minimum of two hours a week in small groups. Our tutors offer classes in English as a Foreign Language, Basic Literacy, and Citizenship Training free of charge, regardless of immigration status. We also provide supplemental learning opportunities, such as conversation groups, writing groups, and computer-assisted instruction using the Rosetta Stone language program. We have approximately 64 volunteers. The majority of our focus is on English Language Learning (ELL). However, we are finding an increased need for training in basic literacy and we are actively looking for volunteers to teach basic literacy and to work with the large number of students on the waiting list. Our dedicated group of volunteer tutors strives to empower students, foster their sense of connectivity to the community, and give them the knowledge base needed to achieve their goals. Upon registering for the program each student takes an initial assessment. At the end of the year, students are post-tested to objectively measure their progress.

Why We Are Here

Literacy skills are key to reducing poverty, crime, poor health, and human rights abuse. For parents, it is a vital component to increase the literacy levels of their children. Improved English skills significantly help our learners navigate society. The ability to speak, read and write English improves employment opportunities and enables students to advocate for themselves, improve their and their family’s health and safety, and become active participants in our community.  

Become a Student

You can learn to speak, read, and write English more fluently with free tutoring from a trained volunteer, depending on tutor availability. To be eligible you must:

  • Be at least 18 years old and not attending high school.
  • Take an assessment test to determine your English language level.
  • Commit to attending class for one year or until goals are achieved.
  • Arrive on time for all scheduled classes and contact the tutor if you cannot come to class.

If you are interested in English classes, contact 203.899.2780 ext. 15182 to schedule a registration appointment and assessment test.

Become a Volunteer

We are always looking for new tutors to work with our adult students. The tutor/student relationship is the core of the Literacy Volunteers program. Volunteers are asked to meet the following criteria to qualify as a Literacy Volunteer:

  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Speak and understand English well enough to communicate clearly.
  • Complete our online volunteer tutor application.
  • Complete the next tutor orientation session.
  • Volunteer for a minimum of one year.
  • Work with your students for 1.5 to 2 hours per week.
  • Be dependable, sensitive to different cultures, and respectful of confidentiality.
  • Consistently and promptly complete monthly tutor reports at the end of each month.

Contact Shelly Yong at 203.899.2780 ext.15181 if you are interested in becoming a student or a volunteer tutor.