The St. Cloud Board of Education voted this month to add a “Somali for Native Speakers” class to its course catalogue.
The school board approved a motion to offer the year-long course at Apollo High School, Tech High School, and McKinley Alternative Learning Center beginning with the 2021-22 school year, according to a video of the board’s Dec. 2 meeting.
The course proposal presented to the school board states that 82% of English-language learners in the St. Cloud Area School District “speak Somali as their primary language.” Another nine percent speak Spanish as their primary language and two percent speak Anuak.
The school district has 2,400 “multilingual learners,” who account for 24% of the student population in the district.
“We have experienced increases in our number of refugee students with limited or interrupted formal education. As posited by Arrive Ministries, an organization that supports resettlement of newly arrived refugees and immigrants, they have greater numbers of refugees in their pipeline to St. Cloud than they have to the Minneapolis metro area,” the course proposal states.
One of the purposes of the course is to educate students “to be linguistically and culturally equipped to communicate successfully in a global and pluralistic community and world.”
“We believe that students who come to school from heritage language backgrounds should have opportunities to develop further proficiencies in their first language. This course is designed specifically for native or heritage speakers of Somali who already have some oral language proficiency,” says the course proposal.
Students who complete the elective course will be eligible for Minnesota’s bilingual seal or world language certificate, which can then be used as credit at participating schools in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system.