New to the state of Connecticut and Stamford Public Schools is the Seal of Biliteracy. It is an award given to students who have “studied and attained proficiency in two or more languages by high school graduation,” according to the official website of the Seal of Biliteracy. Only 7 states do not have the seal, while 9 are in the early stages of introducing this to students. A total of 27 states offer the opportunity to obtain the Seal of Biliteracy. Applications must be sent in to guidance counselors by March 9th, 2018. The path to obtaining the seal is long, and includes a language test, multiple meetings, and filling out an application.
“As a bilingual speaker, it’s a great idea to show colleges and potential employers that they can effectively and proficiently speak two languages,” said Ms. Ochoa, a guidance counselor at Westhill. “I’ve had students come up to me about the program, and since Ms. Herz is in charge, I’ve been referring them to her about the next steps,” she continued. Juniors will also be required to meet the March 9th deadline if they potentially want it on their diploma.
The steps remain the same for both seniors and juniors, though, if they choose to apply. “It’s a good opportunity for people to be proud of themselves and where they came from. I think it’s a good thing for other students who want to learn new languages,” said Stephanie Gomez (’18). “I’m looking forward to take the test and hopefully having this on my diploma.”
According to the Seal of Biliteracy website, they encourage students to recognize the value of language diversity, be prepared with 21st century skills that will benefit them in the labor market, and to strengthen intergroup relationships and honor the multiple cultures in a community.”
“It’s an outstanding distinction and a celebration of our appreciation of the multicultural society in which we live. People have not recognized sufficiently the advantages and the profound image being bilingual has,” said World Language department head Ms. Herz. “I’m not sure what the impetus was for Connecticut. The private sector has long realized the importance of being multilingual. It is my hope that this will spread and that Connecticut will institute a graduation requirement that people have studied a second language,” she continued. “I’m hoping our country and citizens start to understand the profound impact of speaking more than one language can have with other people.”
Students can learn more about this opportunity by visiting sealofbiliteracy.org, the Westhill website, or contacting their guidance counselor. The websites contain information on how to go about applying, and the unique benefits of speaking multiple languages.
“This past week was really the start of announcing it. I’m hoping there will be some serious interest in the next couple of days. I hope seniors see this as an interesting opportunity,” said Ms. Herz.
According to The Atlantic, only 7 percent of college students in America are enrolled in a language course. In Europe, that percentage is much higher. The hope is that the Seal of Biliteracy will encourage more students to be interested in language and actually want to take courses.
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