CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A North Carolina teacher is helping children from other countries feel welcome and learn English. 

What You Need To Know

  • North Carolina teacher helps children from other countries learn English and feel welcome

  • English as a Second Language Teacher Emily Francis has 13 students this semester, which she said is a record

  • Francis said most of her students are Hispanic and she teaches them to learn from their new country while embracing their roots

Emily Francis teaches English as a Second Language at Concord High School. 

In her class, she has two students from Ukraine and the rest are from Latin America. 

“This class is to get them welcoming to the country, and have them get used to what the schedule looks like and just a place for them to catch their breath,” Francis said. 

Francis has 13 students this semester, which is a record number and the majority of them are Hispanic like her. 

“I see where they come from and the love that they have for their home countries,” Francis said. 

During this class, they are preparing presentations about their home countries. 

“Yes, we are in the U.S., but we still need to embrace our own,” Francis said. 

Francis embraces her roots and that’s visible in her classroom decor. 

She grew up in Guatemala and moved to the U.S. at age 15. Francis said she was initially undocumented but became a legal resident thanks to her grandmother. 

She still faced challenges, but through perseverance she became a teacher with accolades. 

“It gives them a little nudge of ‘hey’ look where she came from, look where she is,” Francis said. 

Student Natalie Michelle Galicia Ramirez said Francis’ support and patience have made a difference as she adapts to life in the U.S. 

“The teacher makes me feel more calm and relaxed,” Galicia Ramirez said. 

Francis is happy to help them along the way. 

“I would say the language is not a barrier for these students to be successful,” Francis said. 

Other than this elective, these students attend classes with the rest. They often use technology to translate in order to communicate and work on assignments. 

Last school year, in North Carolina there were 146,000 English learners in public schools, which amounts to nine percent of public school students.