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August 13, 2013 Published in Business, Other News

New English School Opens In Alexandria


Alexandria City residents, Susanna and Maria McPhilomy, recently opened an English school, Forum Intensive English Center, in Old Town Alexandria that offers affordable and effective English language training to local immigrants in the D.C. metro area. The new school opening is timely considering Obama’s new immigration proposal may require 11 million undocumented workers to learn English.

The immigration reform debate highlights the real consequences associated with the 23 million adults residing in the US who struggle with English. According to a recent study by the Lexington Institute there is nearly $38 billion lost in the economy due to limited English proficiency. Just for the Latino population, limited English increases the chances of dropping out of school resulting in an average loss $3,000 per year in earnings.  As for new immigrants the consequences can extend to maintaining low wage jobs, having issues enrolling in higher education or simply not being able to communicate in day-to-day activities.

The McPhilomys have experienced the challenges of immigration first hand, as both are of Armenian descent and immigrated to the US in the mid-1990s.  Knowing that English is the key to success in this country, the mother and daughter duo decided to combine Susanna’s 37 years of teaching experience and effective teaching methodology with Maria’s communications background and tap into the vast international market of the D.C. area to atlas pursue their dream of working together.

“It’s been a lifelong dream of mine to work with my mother and help spread the word about her effective and unique approach to the English language. I thought it was about time that I help my mom transport her methodology to the east coast after witnessing thousands of her students successfully learn English in record-speed both while she was a professor and as co-owner of her language school in Utah", says Maria McPhilomy, Forum’s Director of Communications and Operations.

Forum defines itself from other English schools with its unique communicative approach to language learning developed by Susanna McPhilomy, which emphasizes role-plays, simulations and other interactive techniques that require class participation.

“My approach consists of cultivating a stimulating environment where students feel motivated to engage in spontaneous discussion.  For instance, after teaching a student a new concept in an exciting and relevant manner, I have them elaborate and utilize what they’ve learned through role-plays, simulations, presentations and other practical scenarios.  In my experience, this type of communicative approach helps accelerate language learning to the point where someone with zero knowledge of English is already starting to speak on the first day of class,” says Susanna McPhilomy, Forum’s Academic Director.

Forum officially opened its doors for enrollment June 1, 2013 and is quickly gaining traction with already eight attending students and another six that are due to begin classes in mid-August.  Attending students seem pleased with the program and are already trying to maneuver their schedules in order to be able to attend more hours.

“After attending Forum for about a month I already feel that my English is improving significantly. Forum’s approach is unique because it demands participation, I catch myself talking for the majority of the class, which is a real break through for someone as shy as me! Even though I work a hectic schedule, Forum’s been great in offering affordable rates and flexible class times and if I had the time I would definitely add more hours because I feel the difference after each lesson,” says Ernest Sokolov, an Advanced level student at Forum.

Classes begin in the beginning and middle of each month and are offered three times a day in the morning, afternoon and evenings and weekend classes are available as well. Forum is conveniently located near King St. and Braddock Road metro stations off of the blue and yellow lines.

The McPhilomys remain hopeful that word-of-mouth will soon kick in and enrollment will boost in the fall!

About Forum Intensive English Center
Located in Old Town, Alexandria Forum Intensive English Center provides efficient English language training through engaging lessons, effective teaching strategies and superior academic support.  Forum caters to adults as well as corporate and diplomatic groups offering various programs including six different levels of English classes, multiple English proficiency exam preparation courses, an English vacation program, online language training, teacher training workshops and more. Forum is a proud member of the Washington Area TESOL Association as well as the TESOL International Association. More information can be found at 

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