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Who We Are

ICLS is a woman-owned, independent language school based in Washington, D.C. The ICLS mission is to offer student-centered language programs that develop authentic target language use, focus on individual goals, and enable students to be successful in a global environment.

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ICLS was founded in 1966 to provide English as a Second Language (ESL) and foreign language training. We also offer high-quality internships and training programs at U.S. companies and organizations through our J-1 Intern and Trainee Program.

Our relationships with government agencies and international organizations such as the Department of Defense, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the World Bank have been long-standing; most have been our clients for over 40 years. Our relationships with individuals who have made language learning a lifelong commitment have been just as long.

We are much more than a language school, though. We are a community of teachers, students, and staff who believe in lifelong language learning, and we foster a strong student-centered and communicative approach to teaching. Our unique programs, such as our J-1 Intern and Trainee Program, High-Intensity Language Training (HILT), Lifelong Language Learning Program, and Evening Group Program, were designed to meet the needs of the international, national, and local communities. Programs are continually assessed and monitored to ensure objectives are being met. Due to our school’s size and student focus, we implement changes quickly based on the feedback we receive.


Because we are a boutique language school, our staff provides a high level of personal service and attention to meet the needs of our foreign language and English language students as well as our J-1 Intern and Trainee Program participants. We place students quickly in a program that is tailored to fit their needs and with a teacher who will ensure they meet their personal and/or professional goals. Our instructors believe in the active use of authentic language and view grammatical knowledge not as an end in itself, but as a tool to convey and comprehend intended meaning in the target language.

Working from the premise that students will successfully acquire new knowledge and language skills by engaging in the target language, we encourage them to speak from the very beginning of instruction and to actively form new language structures. Instruction is grounded in meaningful and context-based interactions, and the verbal exchanges between students and teachers are designed to ensure that new structures are introduced and recycled.


"Your path to global success starts with the ICLS focus on tailoring programs to help you reach your individual language learning goals."

- Karen Decker, President

Core Values

  • We consider personal integrity to be the beacon of our workplace.

  • We respect individual learning styles and believe that everyone can learn another language.

  • We advocate for the success of our students in reaching their personal and professional goals.

  • We are dedicated to sustainable innovation and expansion of our services.

  • We are passionate about fostering meaningful communication across cultures through the power of language.

  • We are committed to nurturing the continuous professional development of our staff and teachers.

  • We recognize that the unique voices of our students, clients, teachers and staff are instrumental to our success.


ICLS' Accreditations, Certifications, and Memberships

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