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    World Languages Help Prepare Students for a Global Future
    Posted on 06/21/2018
    A poster hangs in a classroom with instructions in Spanish

    World Languages Help Prepare Students for a Global Future

    All Seattle Public Schools middle and high schools offer world language classes. Language opportunities include French, Japanese, Latin, Mandarin, Spanish or American Sign Language. The district also offers dual language immersion in Spanish, Japanese and Mandarin in five international elementary schools.

    As part of the Washington state’s 24-credit graduation requirement, students in the class of 2021 and beyond will be required to earn two credits in world languages. The intent of the state requirement is to encourage all students to strongly consider studying a language beyond English for at least two of their high school credits. Students also have the option to take Personalized Pathway Requirements to meet specific postsecondary career or education goals that align with the student’s High School and Beyond Plan. Read more about graduation requirements.

    Many of our students value learning a language other than English. One student learning Japanese expressed that, “It has helped me learn not everyone thinks the same way or has the same ideas. For example, I would have never thought of using complicated characters with lots of different strokes that represent words instead of sounds.”

    As students learn a new language, they gain greater awareness of the global community. A parent of siblings in the Japanese language program raves that ”exposure to Japanese culture, arts and food has increased their curiosity and openness about the world.” And a student learning Spanish shared that learning the language has taught her to be respectful of other cultures.

    If students earn two credits in the same language, they also will be meeting admissions requirements for all public, four-year colleges and universities in Washington and many private institutions. In addition, the University of Washington (UW) College of Arts and Sciences requires students to meet a college exit requirement to graduate from the UW, which can be satisfied by earning three high school credits (i.e., completing a high school level 3 course) in the same world language.

    Besides enrolling in world language classes in high school, students can earn credits from most world language classes offered in middle school. Students also can earn Competency-Based World Language Credits for any language that they have learned regardless of where and when they learned it.

    In addition to the new two-credit requirement, the state has launched the Seal of Biliteracy, which students can earn by passing Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) language tests or qualifying for four Competency-Based World Language Credits (in any language) through testing. Students who would like to qualify for this important recognition should start world language study as early as possible.

    More middle schools are adding world language classes and more high schools are making efforts to offer AP language courses and competency-based credit testing to provide equitable opportunities for students to qualify for the Seal of Biliteracy. This year, 372 graduating seniors already have earned the Seal of Biliteracy in a variety of languages.

    Seattle Public Schools is anticipating increased demand for world language courses in response to the graduation requirements and student and family interest. A work group comprised of district staff members and world language teachers are developing a plan for ensuring that all students have access to world languages.

    Learn more about world languages in Seattle Public Schools.

    For more information about the new graduation requirements, please visit our 24 Credit Graduation Requirement FAQ.