Students struggle learning English as second language through online classes

CHARLOTTE — Students across the country are facing a huge learning curve as many are in class only online this fall. Imagine how hard it would be for your child if the class was in a foreign language?

That’s the stressful reality for thousands of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools students learning English as a second language. More than 24,000 CMS students are learning how to read, write and speak in English because it’s not the language they use at home.

“There are over 200 languages spoken in the CMS district,” said Autumn Weil, executive director of International House.


The return to learning this year, which is currently totally remote, is creating an incredible challenge for those kids.

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Julia Bulinska is an English-as-a-second-language teacher at Briarwood Academy. She said logging on to the computer then navigating Zoom and the district’s Canvas program in English is almost impossible for many families.

International House is trying to help those kids through their rising readers program, where teachers and volunteers personally visit the students at home twice a week, bringing snacks and helping troubleshoot technology issues.

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They are hoping, at a minimum, to help 200 students to cover the entire K-3 grade student body who are English language learners.

Bulinska has seen firsthand how crucial those face-to-face connections are. She is worried that without more help, students learning English will struggle more in this pandemic than they already do.

“The gap is there as it is,” Bulinska said. “So my biggest worry is the gap is going to be even wider and much harder to catch up for those students, and that is not fair.”

International House needs volunteers who are willing to personally visit students twice a week.

Volunteers don’t have to be a teacher or speak multiple languages.

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