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    The International Education Programs Office provides support to schools that have or would like to offer world language classes to students.

    Languages Taught in Seattle Public Schools

    Currently, the world languages taught in Seattle Public Schools are:

    • ASL - American Sign Language
    • Chinese (Mandarin)
    • French
    • Japanese
    • Latin
    • Spanish

    For specifics, download the SPS World Languages Regional Offerings.

    In addition, a number of non-profit organizations, such as One World Now, offer other languages after school, including Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), Russian, and Korean.

    Elementary Schools

    Elementary schools that offer state-funded full-day Kindergarten are required to provide experiences in a world language other than English. The goal of the experiences is to develop an interest and desire to continue learning languages later in their schooling. The goal is not to master a language. For resources on providing world language experiences, visit

    Some elementary schools are also able to offer before or after-school enrichment classes in a variety of world languages. Contact us if you would like to connect with organizations that are currently offering these types of programs.

    Seattle currently offers Dual Language Immersion in 5 International Elementary Schools:
    • Beacon Hill International School:  Mandarin Chinese and Spanish
    • Concord International School:  Spanish
    • Dearborn Park International School:  Mandarin Chinese and Spanish
    • John Stanford International School:  Japanese and Spanish
    • McDonald International School:  Japanese and Spanish

    Middle Schools

    All middle schools and K-8 schools offer some type of World Language program. Some schools offer a 6th grade exploratory class where students have an opportunity to spend some weeks learning about different languages. Most schools offer two years of middle school level language (the equivalent of one year of high school). Some schools offer language all three years (6th, 7th, and 8th grade). Denny, Hamilton, and Mercer International Middle Schools also offer Dual Language Immersion Continuation programs for students who participated in elementary Dual Language Immersion or are heritage language learners.

    We are currently in the process of evaluating how to strengthen the pathway from middle to high school world language programs so that students can begin a language in middle school and continue it in high school at an appropriate, challenging level.

    In 8th grade, any student may be tested for proficiency in a language and earn high school Competency-Based Credits in a world language based on the results. The student may also be considered for placement in a higher-level class at high school based on the assessment results and middle school teacher recommendations (if space is available in the appropriate level in high school). Individual high schools may have their own placement process. Check with the school counselors or World Language Department Head.

    High Schools

    Starting in 2021 in Seattle (2019 in other districts in the state), there will be a high school graduation requirement of 2 credits of world language for most students. We are working with the "Revisioning High School" team of principals to prepare for expanding offerings of world languages to more students in more schools.

    The Washington Association for Language Teaching (WAFLT) recently received clarification from the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) and the State Board of Education about several aspects of the new 2-credit requirement. WAFLT has issued a letter to districts outlining useful information for families and students.

    World Language Standards and Learning Targets

    Seattle Schools aligns curriculum to the Washington State World Languages K-12 Learning Standards (2015), which are aligned with the national World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages (summary document) available for download on the ACTFL World-Readiness Standards for Language Learning page.

    World Language Course Outcomes by level were developed by a team of World Language teachers in Seattle working with a national consultant, Donna Clementi, in 2010. They were updated in August 2015 to match the revised World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages and Washington's revised World Language Learning Standards.

    The targets for high school world language seat-time courses were set by the World Language teachers in 2010 based on the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines:
    Level 1 World Language Course - Novice Low to Novice Mid
    Level 2 World Language Course - Novice Mid to Novice High
    Level 3 World Language Course - Novice High to Intermediate Low
    Level 4 World Language Course - Intermediate Low to Intermediate Mid
    Level 5 World Language Course - Intermediate Mid to Pre-Advanced

    These proficiency targets may be used as a guide to assist schools in proper placement of students coming from middle school to high school after some years of language study K-8. For example, a student demonstrating overall Novice High proficiency in Spanish (the target for a Level 2 World Language Course) could probably do well in a Level 3 course in high school.

    The teachers also developed Example Units aligned to these levels in ASL, Chinese (Mandarin), French, Japanese, Latin, and Spanish.

    World Language Credit Testing

    In spring 2011, Seattle Public Schools adopted the state's model policy and procedure for assessing language proficiency and granting competency-based credits for World Languages. Students who can speak, read, and write a language other than English may be able to earn from 1-4 high school world language credits by completing state-approved language proficiency assessments. These credits can help them meet high school graduation requirements and 4-year college admissions requirements for world (foreign) languages.

    Learn more at SPS International Education > World Language Credit Testing.

    Seal of Biliteracy

    High school seniors who meet all state and district graduation requirements may earn the Seal of Biliteracy by attaining a high level of proficiency in speaking, reading, and writing in one or more world languages in addition to English.

    Learn more at SPS International Education > Seal of Biliteracy.

    OSPI Digital Learning Department > Online & Alternative Learning

    The Digital Learning Department (DLD) is run by the Office of State Superintendent of Public Instruction and provides online courses that students may take if:

    • They are ahead of what is offered
    • There are scheduling issues with other classes that they need to meet graduation requirements
    • They need to make up credits

    Currently the DLD is being transformed into the Department of Online & Alternative Learning. Beginning in 2017–18, school districts and programs offering online learning will be responsible for working directly with approved online providers to register students. The Digital Learning Department (DLD) will no longer offer student enrollment services through the DLD website effective summer term 2017.

    In Seattle Public Schools, we hope to make online learning a more viable option for students who would benefit. For example, if the student studied French in middle school but attended a high school that did not offer French, then perhaps the student could complete the second credit of French through an online course. Or, if the student wishes to study a language not offered in Seattle Public Schools, such as German, access to an online course might allow the student to pursue that interest.

    Resources for SPS World Languages Teachers

    SPS World Language teachers share resources via Schoology and several websites:

    Upcoming trainings are posted on the Calendar page:

    NEW WORLD LANGUAGE TEACHERS: Here's a link to resources for the New World Language Teachers Workshop planned in August 2017:

    Teacher Shortages in World Languages

    World Language (and Dual Language Immersion) teachers are considered a "high needs" hiring priority for Seattle Public Schools Human Resources because each year the district has struggled to fill all of the open positions. The situation is likely to get worse now that, starting with the class of 2021, 2 credits of a World Language will be part of the high school graduation requirements (although it is possible for a student to waive the requirement as part of a personalized pathway).

    If you are a teacher of Spanish, French, Japanese, Latin, or Mandarin Chinese, please consider working in Seattle Public Schools. Check out the Careers page.

    The Professional Educator Standards Board (PESB) has recently announced a series of changes to the process for certificated teachers to add endorsements. Specifically, currently certificated teachers can now add a Designated World Language Endorsement through testing alone. Likewise a World Language Teacher can add a Social Studies Endorsement through testing (in order to teach in a secondary Dual Language Immersion program, for example). Learn more at PESB Retooling. For certificated teachers who would like to add a Designated World Language Endorsement and need help to prepare for the required tests, join the World Language Teachers of SPS Schoology Group to access the WEST-E for World Languages Resources. Questions? Contact Michele Anciaux Aoki

    International Exchange Visiting Teachers

    For academic year 2017-2018, the district has agreed to host visiting teachers on J-1 exchange teacher visas from Spain through the UW Spanish Center/Embassy of Spain and from China through the Confucius Institute of the State of Washington. These teachers may be qualified to teach at any level (elementary, including Dual Language Immersion; middle or high school). Most often schools hire visiting teachers to fill World Language or Dual Language Immersion teaching positions when there is a shortage of locally available qualified teachers. If your school would like to hire a visiting teacher in a future year, please contact Michele Aoki, International Education Administrator, to facilitate the offer letter from HR and visa processing through the Institute of International Education (IIE). Schools may not enter into agreements for hosting visiting teachers without contacting ELL and International Programs and HR first.

    Learn more about the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction Nonimmigrant Exchange Teacher Certificate Process at OSPI Exchange and Visiting Teachers Program.

    Find the Missing Piece: Learn a Language*
    Monday, March 13, 2017 6:30-7:30 pm

    Information session for families, students, community members, and educators about World Language offerings in Seattle, World Language Credit Testing, Seal of Biliteracy, Dual Language Immersion, and more.  Download the Flyer in English, Amharic Arabic, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, Japanese, Oromo, Somali, Spanish, Tagalog, Tigrigna, Vietnamese.

    *theme of National Foreign Language Week March 6-12, 2017

    Questions? Contact Dr. Michele Anciaux Aoki