Students Look to be Fluent

Seal of Biliteracy gives students opprotunity to be recognized as biliterate.

Ava Kitzi, Copy Editor

Learning and being literate in a second language has been proven to help students get a leg up in life. A program called Seal of Biliteracy (SB) has recently been adapted by the state of Missouri in order to reward students that have proven themselves to be biliterate in school. At Battle, hundreds of students are looking to earn the seal for themselves in the 2019-2020 school year. 

“It’s such a wonderful opportunity for students to gain recognition for their language learning skills,” Spanish teacher Nichol Einseidel said. 

That recognition doesn’t come easily, though. To get the seal, students must prove their proficiency at their first and second languages. To do this, students who learned English as their first language have to get a “proficient” score on their English ACT and on a test in their second language. 

The Seal of Biliteracy isn’t only open to native English speakers. If a student counts another language as their first, like someone in the English Language Learners (ELL) program or speaks Spanish at home, they can prove their proficiency in their native language and in English as their second. 

SB candidates must also create a cultural comparison project showing a deeper understanding of the language. 

“Having that seal can make you way more marketable to employers, especially now that it seems you need to be biliterate for lots of jobs,” Einseidel explained. 

Language classes at Battle focus on vocabulary, verb conjugations, and putting together simple sentences. However, as Einseidel explained, this isn’t how one would learn their first language. As a baby learning their first words, a person wouldn’t learn the preterite conjugation of a verb to say they had “just gone to the library.” This discrepancy has generated some discord in the language community over whether or not the Seal of Biliteracy actually represents a student being biliterate, or if it just shows that they completed the course load. 

“We need to create more opportunities for students to use their skills in class. I think the conversations and language learning needs to be more organic,” Einseidel admitted. 

Students also have similar thoughts. Spanish 4 student Molly Fox, who is applying for the Seal of Biliteracy this year, said, “I think the language skills we learn in class are a starting point. But to actually be biliterate, you have to apply yourself outside of class.” 

Spanish 1 and 2 teacher Amy Jammeh had a different opinion. “While (students) may not be able to use really advanced, abstract language, I think that by the end of the four years they have that basic proficiency that will give them a leg up in the workplace.”

While Jammeh doesn’t teach students actively participating in the program- you have to be in the fourth or fifth year of a language to apply for the seal- she says she does advocate for her students.

“I try to promote the program to them, let them know that it’s a fantastic option if they continue learning the language,” Jammeh explained. 

To start your journey towards the Seal of Biliteracy, contact your counselor or sign up for a language class during schedule sign-ups early next semester.