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Recognizing the Importance of Multilingual Learning

During National Bilingual/Multilingual Learner Advocacy Month in April, the Santa Clara County Office of Education (SCCOE) recognized the Sunnyvale School District (SSD) and an SSD student for their work and achievement in bilingual/multilingual education.

Ella, a seventh grader from Sunnyvale Middle School, won first place in the 2023 My Name, My Identity, Celebrating Diversity art contest. My Name, My Identity: A Declaration of Self is a national initiative that recognizes the importance of correctly pronouncing students’ names in order to make students feel valued, included, and respected at school. Ella’s piece, entitled“Mian Bao Around The World” was part of the 6th Annual National Bilingual/Multilingual Learner Advocacy Month Showcase held at SCCOE on 4/27/23.

In addition to recognizing achievements in multilingual learning, National Bilingual/Multilingual Learner Advocacy Month encourages educators to recognize the unique needs of diverse language learners and consider how best to support them. The SCCOE recognized the Sunnyvale School District for establishing a resolution honoring students with the Biliteracy Pathways Awards, which recognize students who have demonstrated progress toward proficiency in speaking, reading, and writing in one or more languages in addition to English. 

SCCOE also recognized the District for supporting the national My Name, My Identity: A Declaration of Self initiative. By contributing to a welcoming and positive learning environment, My Name, My Identity helps schools eliminate the achievement gap, build positive school climate, cultivate global competence, and advocate for parent engagement.

In addition to these initiatives, SSD works hard every day to celebrate our bilingual and multilingual students. Our multilingual students who are reclassified as being proficient in English, for example, are celebrated in our schools as well. Not only do we celebrate fluency in English, we also celebrate maintaining and elevating our students’ home languages as they are essential life long skills.

“As a non-English speaker who stopped using my heritage language when I came into school, I recognize the value in maintaining your language and culture,” said Dr. Christina Ballantyne, director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment. “Being bilingual is an asset, personally and professionally. And seeing how important it is to our families to maintain their home language and culture, that has been valuable to me as well.”

“Our Juntos Dual Immersion program is another way we celebrate and recognize heritage speakers who want to learn more about their language and culture at San Miguel and Columbia Middle School,” added Ballantyne. “Outside of being bilingual and biliterate, we are also as a District working on being bicultural and becoming world citizens, where students can navigate various cultures with an adeptness of fluency.”

San Miguel fifth-grader Angelina agrees. 

“I believe having a bilingual education or being bilingual is important because you have advantages in life and it is a basic necessity. Being bilingual has helped me academically but also to learn and appreciate my culture. I can also talk with my family in Mexico,” said Angelina, who will be recognized with the Seal of Biliteracy  for participating in the Juntos bilingual program. 

Article by Lighthouse Blue Communications Consultant Dyan Chan and District Communication Coordinator Alia Wilson.

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