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Dec 28, 2023 | Nancy Chen

Free Technology and Computer Classes in NYC for Seniors and Immigrants

This article provides a list of resources for Chinese New Yorkers to get free technology training.

The pandemic saw a surge in the reliance on technology. Once an optional functionality, technology has now become a key part of our daily lives as we depend more on our devices to book medical appointments, shop online or connect with our families through video calls. 

Like any other community, there is also a growing demand for digital literacy among Chinese New Yorkers, said Steve Mei, the director of Brooklyn Community Services at the Chinese-American Planning Council. 

In addition to the language, Chinese New Yorkers have their particular needs when it comes to technology. For example, many immigrants want to learn how to use WeChat, one of the most popular Chinese social media apps, to stay in touch with their family members back in China, said Marco DiGirolomo, the director of in-person programs at Older Adults Technology Services, also known as Senior Planet, from AARP. Recognizing this need, Senior Planet offers lectures on using WeChat in Mandarin. 

This article provides a list of resources you can go to get free technology training, many of which are specifically serving Chinese immigrants.

Free technology resources in New York City


Public libraries across the five boroughs in New York City offer various technology training classes. 

New York Public Library (NYPL) hosts the TechConnect program, which offers over 100 free technology classes in the Bronx, Manhattan and Staten Island. Classes range from beginner to advanced, covering basic computer skills, coding, digital media production and more. They also offer series-based programs for in-depth knowledge.

You can check out the program schedules and locations on this website. You can also refine your search based on your location and purpose of learning. 

Also Read: How to Navigate Public Transportation in NYC

The Chatham Square Library also offers free computer classes in Mandarin. You can click here or type “Chatham” in the “Enter event keyword” box to find its details. These classes are first-come, first-served. Visit this website to access class handouts, watch their YouTube tutorials and more.

NYPL also compiled a list of schools and organizations providing computer training across the five boroughs. Note: The website is no longer updated but may be used as a reference.

Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) hosts a variety of tech classes at the Central Library, the main branch of the BPL. You can check out the equipment and services they provide on this website.

Click here or type “tech” on the “Event Calendar” page to search for digital training programs. This page includes all the programs offered by different branches of BPL. You can refine the results by age and location. The programs range from computer basics to one-to-one tech help to educational sessions informing you about government resources relating to tech access. Click the individual programs to see their schedule and locations. 

Unfortunately, BPL does not offer tech classes in Chinese languages.

Queens Public Library (QPL) provides many online and in-person tech training resources. The training is for all skill levels and ages, including one-to-one tech assistance, basic and advanced classes. They also teach emerging technology like 3D printing, Robotics and Virtual Reality. 

The most comprehensive hub is Queensbridge Tech Lab, opening four days a week. 

On this website, you can search for all the programs at QPL. Set the category as “Computer Classes” and choose the location where you want to take the class.

Like BPL, QPL does not offer tech classes in Chinese languages either.

Community organizations

Chinatown Manpower Project

The Out-of-School Youth Program at Chinatown Manpower Project offers free computer training, including Microsoft Office and keyboarding skills, as well as college preparation for teenagers and young adults. To register for their classes, you need to: 

  • Be 16-24 years old
  • Be a citizen, permanent resident, or other legal resident with a work permit
  • Reside in the five boroughs of New York City
  • Meet government low-income eligibility requirements if a high school graduate

The Chinese-American Planning Council (CPC)

Funded by the New York City Department for the Aging, CPC’s Brooklyn and Queens senior centers offer free smartphone, tablet and computer classes for adults over 60. The classes are often held one to three times a week, depending on which specific class it is. You also have the option of joining the class online or in person. Class size at the Brooklyn center is usually around 20 people, according to Mei.

Brooklyn location: 

Address: 4101 8th Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11232

Phone: 718-492-0409

Queens location: CPC Nanshan Senior Center 

Address: 133-14 41st Ave, Flushing, NY 11355 

Phone: 718-358-3030

City Hall Older Adult Center 

As one of the most extensive and longest-running programs for NYC’s Chinese American seniors and many others, City Hall Older Adult Center at Hamilton-Madison House serves adults over age 60. They have a variety of programs and activities, including smartphone, tablet and computer classes offered in Mandarin, Cantonese and English three times a week. You can find details in their calendar — click “in-person & virtual activities” on the right side of this page.

Address: 100 Gold St., New York, NY 10038

Phone: 212-788-5580

Email: CHOAC@hmhonline.org

LaGuardia Senior Center

LaGuardia Senior Center offers free tablet and smartphone classes for its members who are 60 and above. The classes are offered every Thursday and Friday from 10 to 11 a.m. in Mandarin.

Address: 280 Cherry St., New York, NY 10002

Phone: 212-732-3656

Selfhelp Older Adult Centers

Selfhelp offers a variety of life-enhancing programs and services for those aged 60 and above via its five community-based Older Adult Centers. The digital literacy training in these centers includes smartphone, tablet and computer classes as well as tech assistance. Visit this page, find the nearest center, then click on the “menu & event” button to see which class you would like to take.

The details of the five branches are listed below:

Austin Street Senior Center

Address: 106-06 Queens Blvd., Forest Hills, NY 11375

Phone: 718-520-8197

Language: English

Benjamin Rosenthal-Prince Street Innovative Older Adult Center

Address: 45-25 Kissena Blvd., Flushing, NY 11355

Phone: 718-886-5777

Languages: English, Chinese

Clearview Older Adult Center

Address: 208-11 26th Ave., Bayside, NY 11360

Phone: 718-224-7888

Languages: English, Korean

Latimer Gardens Older Adult Center

Address: 34-30 137th St., Flushing, NY 11354

Phone: 718-961-3660

Languages: English, Chinese, Spanish

Maspeth Older Adult Center

Address: 69-61 Grand Ave., Maspeth, NY 11378

Phone: 718-429-3636

Languages: English, Spanish

Senior Planet

Senior Planet provides a range of virtual activities and in-person and online technology classes for adults over 60. Visit this website to register for online classes, which are offered in Chinese languages.

You can also visit the Senior Planet office in Chelsea in person. Here is the schedule of these classes, some of which are offered in Mandarin. 

Chelsea office address: 127 W. 25th St., New York, NY 10001

Phone: 646-590-0615

If you are an older adult and would like to explore more activities and tech training programs, please visit this page.

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