More than a decade ago, some people wondered if it would work to put English-speaking Kindergarteners in a Spanish-only classroom. Those students are now in high school, and at least 106 of them are fluent in the language. Those students have earned the Seal of Biliteracy for knowing Spanish or Latin, in addition to English.
Elizabeth Dumansky speaks Spanish with ease, which isn’t surprising because she has been speaking it for nearly her whole life. If you don’t speak the language, the 16-year-old will kindly translate.
“I said, Hi, my name is Elizabeth,” Elizabeth said.
This isn’t your first time meeting the Lincoln High School junior. KELOLAND News featured her when she was in Kindergarten, and when she was in the first crop of students enrolled in Spanish immersion.
“It’s almost like a super power that not many people know about until I just start going off in a foreign language,” Elizabeth said.
Elizabeth has earned a Seal of Biliteracy. When she leaves the classroom in 2021, she’ll be part of the first class of Spanish Immersion students to graduate high school in Sioux Falls.
“It’s just going to be like watching your baby finally grow up and go off into the big world,” Ann Smith, Director of Curriculum, said.
Smith says fluency in different languages may help students receive college credit, scholarships, and find future careers.
“The more we can raise the awareness and the pride in being multi-lingual, the better we’re doing for our kids,” Smith said.
Elizabeth doesn’t know quite yet how her Spanish-speaking skills will translate to her life outside of high school yet, but is glad she speaks the language.
“When you learn about these real world things, you can apply them to your outside life and it’ll be beneficial for the rest of your life,” Elizabeth said.
To receive the Seal, the Sioux Falls School District had to submit students qualifying test scores from the Avant STAMP 4S and Advance Placement Exam as evidence of language skills in two or more languages.