Two languages

Pineda earns Seal of Biliteracy

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson
Desiree Pineda, 18, a 2019 Fort Dodge Senior High graduate, shows off her English and Spanish writing skills at the Fort Dodge Community School District Central Office.

As a child, Desiree Pineda, of Fort Dodge, would answer her parents’ questions a little differently depending on who was asking.

That’s because her dad’s questions were in a different language than her mom’s questions.

“My dad would talk to me in Spanish and my mom would talk to me in English,” Pineda, 18, a 2019 Fort Dodge Senior High graduate, said. “So I was learning both at the same time.”

And as a result, Pineda got pretty good at speaking the two languages.

Just before her high school graduation earlier this year, Pineda earned a state Seal of Biliteracy.

That means Pineda demonstrated that she is proficient in both English and Spanish through an approved assessment.

The Iowa Department of Education introduced the state Seal of Biliteracy in October 2018. The award recognizes students who demonstrate proficiency in English and at least one other language.

Brittany Sandoval, 18, another 2019 FDSH graduate, also earned the state Seal of Biliteracy.

Pineda and Sandoval were each tested on a computer in reading, writing, listening, and speaking.

Pineda began the assessments at 8:30 a.m. on May 31. She finished at 11:30 a.m. that day.

“I did really good in my writing,” Pineda said. “My lowest might have been a little bit of reading. And speaking and listening were all pretty good.”

In terms of learning a third language, Pineda said she took some French classes in high school.

“It’s similar to Spanish,” she said. “But not all of it. I confuse the two.”

Pineda and her family moved to Fort Dodge about five years ago from southern California.

She’s the oldest sibling in her family. She has two brothers and one sister.

Her younger siblings aren’t quite as advanced in their Spanish speaking skills. So growing up, that meant Pineda would often end up serving as a translator at family functions.

“I was the only one able to talk with my grandma,” she said. “When we visited grandma, I would be the translator between my siblings and grandma.”

Her brothers have learned some Spanish, she said.

“The boys know some words (in Spanish),” Pineda said. “Things that are important to them, like food.”

Pineda’s translation skills are used in other places, too.

Her father is a local pastor at Rolling Hills Church. There, English and Spanish services are offered.

“Now that my dad is a pastor of Spanish ministry it (speaking two languages) comes in very handy because they talk Spanish and little English,” Pineda said.

At home, Pineda’s father calls her Desi for short. That is, unless she’s in trouble.

“When I am in trouble, it’s Desiree, and when I’m really in trouble there’s some Spanish thrown in there,” she said.

Pineda said speaking the two languages is natural for her.

“The two languages — they are both kind of there for as long as I can remember,” she said.

Most of her friends speak English, she said.

To keep the Spanish language fresh, she often listens to Spanish music.

“I listen to more Spanish music than I do English,” she said.

Pineda plans to study at Iowa Central Community College in the fall.

She later plans to transfer to a university to major in education.

“I am not sure where yet, but I know I want to be a teacher,” she said. “I like working with kids. I feel like at the middle school age, you can really make a positive impact on them.”