St. Cloud Schools Add Somali and Ojibwa to Global Language Curriculum

ST. CLOUD – Move around, Spanish and French. Next year, St. Cloud Public Schools will offer Somali and Ojibwe to all students as their languages ​​of choice.

“It just makes sense for us to have it,” said Lori Posch, executive director of learning and teaching for St. Cloud Schools. “We want our students to be represented in our classes.

The move comes after the St. Cloud School District this fall launched what is believed to be the state’s – and possibly the country’s – first native Somali language course for high school students.

Some immigrant or refugee students have limited or interrupted formal education. The Somali mother tongue course aims to strengthen the writing skills in the mother tongue of these students and at the same time develop academic and other language skills.

“Somali for Native Speakers was designed for students who didn’t speak much English,” Posch said. “Somali as a world language will be more of an introduction to children who may hear parents speak it – but to be honest we already have a lot of interest from our non-Somali community in taking this class as a language. world. “

About 60% of the nearly 9,700 students at St. Cloud schools are students of color. This is a dramatic change from a decade ago, when about one in four students were students of color.

About 41% of students at St. Cloud are black and 25% of students speak Somali as their primary language at home.

On December 1, the school board approved the addition of Somali I and Ojibwe I to its world languages ​​curriculum, joining the ranks of French, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese and American Sign Language.

Somali and Ojibwe will both be introductory courses. If there is enough interest, the district will add more advanced courses in the coming years. Students who are proficient in a world language could then be awarded a bilingual or multilingual Minnesota seal, which can earn them college credits.

The district chose the Ojibwe because a few other schools in Minnesota have already established a program, according to Lacey Lokken, the district’s American Indian education and equity program supervisor.

“Registration will be open to all students, but of course we hope to be able to register some of our native students,” Lokken said. “Our native students come from various tribal nations in Minnesota and beyond, so [Ojibwe is] not necessarily the mother tongue of all students.

If there is interest, the district may one day add Dakota to the language program, Lokken said.

The district also offers full immersion programs in Spanish and Chinese, and plans to add a dual Somali-English curriculum for kindergarten children.

“Our hope in doing a dual immersion program is that we have both Somali speaking and non-Somali students to learn and develop their native language – be it English or Somali – and build another language. , ”Posch mentioned.

The district is also seeking to offer Somali language classes to adults through its community education program.

“I love that we’re at the forefront of doing what’s best for our students. I think that’s one thing our district does very well: we’re looking at the strengths that our students bring us and we leverage it, ”Posch said. “Our district is blessed with our diversity and it is a chance for us to truly recognize this diversity and to help us be better stewards of our skills and better community members and neighbors.”


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