By LESLIE HUENKE
Thirteen students in Kacey Booth’s Spanish 5 class at Lutheran High met their goal for the end of the 2019 semester by taking on the challenge of earning the Missouri Seal of Biliteracy.
Earning the state seal requires proof of proficiency in English as well as a second language. In addition to the ACT exam, performance assessments were administered online in the four domains of reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Submissions were then reviewed and graded by professional speakers.
Additionally, students are required to exhibit sociocultural competence through direct interaction and usage of their second language.
Lutheran students decided to be creative and created outreach program at a local church. They chose the Holy Cross Lutheran Church located in O’Fallon. The students hosted a Bilingual Family Christmas event called “Un evento navideño para familias” [A Christmas event for families] to reach out to Spanish speakers in the area as well as use their faith-based education during the holiday season.
To advertise and promote the event, student helpers earned service hours by putting up flyers at local restaurants, Mexican grocery stores and Spanish-led church services. On the night of the event, four decorated stations greeted visitors: a Dia de los Reyes [the Three Kings] table; a kids’ table, featuring original composition Spanish-language storytelling, a manger scene and a Christmas tree; a traditional Christmas display with candy, decorations and holiday lights; and a fourth station, focused on The 12 Days of Christmas, translated and presented in Spanish.
As the semester wrapped up, the students began to take the proficiency portion of the test. All 13 students passed, 10 earned the Missouri Seal of Biliteracy and three earned the Missouri Distinguished Seal of Biliteracy.
“After going on a mission trip to Poland and experiencing a different culture with a different language, it really got me interested in language learning,” Phillip Thaemert, Spanish 5 student, said. “Earning the Distinguished Seal of Biliteracy has made me realize that I can do it. I have the ability to learn a language, and now that I’ve made it, it’s a motivation to learn other languages, too. It builds bridges between cultures.”
Booth has enjoyed watching her students grow from beginners in her Spanish 1 class and seeing them gain proficiency each semester.
“This is a compliment to my instructional practice because I can see the impact and the results that these students have achieved,” Booth said. “It is often stated that teenagers and adults have greater difficulty acquiring a foreign language or that one must study abroad in order to become fully proficient. While there is certainly some truth in those theories, the accomplishments of my Spanish 5 class also demonstrate that with a well-trained educator and exceptionally motivated students, proficiency and biliteracy are indeed possible at any age and right within the classroom.”