Breaking international barriers in Takoma


While exploring Takoma, DC’s Laurel Street, residents and visitors may have admired the old Washington Theological Union building sitting vacant on this quiet, tree lined street on the edge of Takoma Old Town. Education First International Language Center also took notice of this beautiful brick structure and in July 2014 set up home.

The EF International Language center brings a cultural-immersion adventure for students from around the globe to live in our city while studying the English language. The Center delivers a unique educational exposure to the metropolitan area by accommodating students from across the globe with the chance to be immersed in the American cultural experience through living with a host family.


The EF Team, from left to right_ Joannah Lim, Housing Coordinator; Kelsey Sager, Activities Coordinator; Kevin Rhodes, Facilities Manager; Anka Stenten, School Director; Margaret Wood, Host Family Recruiter. Photo by Rebecca Gallery.

Host families provide a home away from home for students ranging from sixteen years to ninety nine years old. The mission of EF International Language Center is to break down the barriers of language, culture and geography; giving students an enriching and fulfilling education while learning to navigate the complicated waters of the English language.

One student Fernando (age 39) from Ecuador said “I would like to express my gratitude to EF school by the great experience I lived with them in Washington. I’m very satisfied with the classes, teachers, labs, residence and the activities outside around the city and its culture, monuments, museums, parks, shopping and friends.”


Lobby and Reception Area. Photo by Rebecca Gallery.

Host families are selected by EF International Language Center through an application process where EF conducts a home interview for host family applicants getting a feel for the household, their domicile and their neighborhood. Students can live with a host family for two weeks to a year based on the host family’s preference for length of stay. Families provide students with shared meals, relationship building, lasting friendships and complete immersion in the Takoma way of life.

Student Marina (age 20) from Brazil said “It was just wonderful to know this new place, new people and a new culture. Learning for life, a sensational experience and a dream realized.”

EF Language Takoma

The EF Language Center building boasts 30 Classrooms, two residence floors containing 92 total dorm rooms, an activities lounge, a cafeteria, a lecture hall, and administration offices. Photo by Rebecca Gallery.

EF arranges trips and activities for the students such as guided tours of Takoma Park, day trips to Six Flags amusement park, tours of the Washington monuments and museums, group brunches, organized happy hours for the adult students, shopping trips to Chinatown and more.

“Due to the professional and amazingly friendly staff, EF is fantastic. You are involved and motivated by top minded teachers in succeeding and mastering English. In addition to this, you have a unique chance to explore Washington DC with its famous and world-known museums and galleries, touch the history of Georgetown or Adams Morgan, taste food from all over the world and meet wonderful people.” said Gulnara (age 45), a student from Kazakhstan.

For more information about becoming a Homestay Program host family contact Housing Coordinator Joannah Lim at (202) 765-0953.

About the Author

Rebecca Gallery
Rebecca Gallery covers Art and Entertainment events in Takoma Park and Silver Spring MD. When she is not seeking out new music and events you can find her curled up with her cats and a cup of tea (wine).