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Wauwatosa East and West Student News

The Tosa Compass

Wauwatosa East and West Student News

The Tosa Compass

New Opportunity for Language Learners: The Seal of Biliteracy


This year, a brand new opportunity has arisen for those who either excel in their foreign language classes or have practiced a second language outside of high school walls. The Seal of Biliteracy, an award presented by the Wauwatosa School District, grants statewide recognition of individuals who have become proficient in two or more languages by the time they graduate from high school. According to Ms. Troy, a Spanish teacher at East, “The goal is to encourage students, who either are currently learning additional languages, or who already speak multiple languages, to hone their skills to a point where they are really proficient in multiple languages.” Additionally, this is your chance to prove to colleges and potential employers that you have acquired an advanced skill set in the language you’ve been studying. The Seal of Biliteracy has multitude of benefits, from the workforce opportunities it presents to breaking barriers to communication through the power of language. Find out how you can personally obtain this certification, along with the innumerable advantages that come with possessing this seal. 

The Seal of Biliteracy not only provides a stamp on your transcript, but a countless number of opportunities in the real world. For those planning on taking a language in college, this seal is recommended by the American Council on Education for course placement and even college credit. For those soon to be entering the workforce, this certified acknowledgement of your abilities has proven itself to be essential in the 21st century job application process. A 2017 report by New American Economy found that the demand for bilingual workers in the U.S has increased substantially in recent years (“Demand for Bilingual Workers”). For instance, “In 2010, there were roughly 240,000 job postings aimed at bilingual workers; by 2015, that figure had ballooned to approximately 630,000” (“Demand for Bilingual Workers”). Along with this, biliterate individuals aren’t just sought out to fill positions that require multilingual skills. Companies have been increasingly hiring workers that demonstrate proficient foreign language skills to fill seemingly unrelated positions. For example, Infinity Dish Operator Laura Fuentes stated, “In 2022, relying solely on English-only employees means missing out on a lucrative portion of the market and denying accessible customer support to a large number of your clients… Point blank, we couldn’t conduct business at the level we want without our multilingual employees” (Lobell). With the globalization of businesses on the rise, along with an increasing immigrant population in the U.S, bilingual employees are vital to the success of nearly all companies. Therefore, multilingualism isn’t solely worthwhile in certain careers, and is something to consider pursuing in order to increase chances of securing a job. In addition, these bilingual and biliterate workers are valued much more than monolingual employees, which can often lead to more opportunities in the workforce. According to a study by Ipsos Public Affairs for the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, 9 out of 10 U.S employers rely on employees with multilingual skills (Lobell). Moreover, multilingual employees are incredibly difficult to come by, as according to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, in 2018, only 16.9% of Americans ages eighteen or older expressed multilingual abilities (“How Many People Are Bilingual”). With how stark the number of bilingual Americans is, along with the reliance on these individuals at a majority of companies, having biliterate abilities can give an employee a step up from their peers. 

The Seal of Biliteracy may lead to success in one’s career and higher education, but being biliterate also allows for societal prosperity, increased cognitive skills, and wisdom; all of which will benefit any individual, regardless of their career path. For instance, being able to understand one another is imperative to reducing hate and violence in our world. Throughout history, disputes have been resolved through conversation, through treaties written, through words. Words hold so much power, and if we cannot understand the words of another, it’s that much harder to empathize with them. According to a report by Statista, only 1.5 billion individuals, worldwide, can speak English fluently, which is only about 18% of the global population (Dyvik). For the sake of societal well-being, we simply cannot limit ourselves to solely conversing with such a small portion of the world. Additionally, having the ability to communicate with more people expands our ability to see situations from multiple perspectives. In a study conducted at the University of Lugano in Switzerland, researchers found that while, on the surface, communication allows for the basic exchange of emotions and information, it also sanctions an exchange of contexts (Eppler). These contexts provide for the reconstruction of insights and formation of novel perspectives, which are essential ingredients of wisdom. Furthermore, being bilingual has been proven to correlate with brain health. According to the New York Times, bilingualism has been found to prevent dementia and improve cognitive skills that aren’t even related to language (Bhattacharjee). With the benefits of brain health, wisdom, and societal prosperity, taking that step towards bilingualism through the Seal of Biliteracy can improve anyone’s life, no matter the career they pursue.

The first step towards obtaining the Wisconsin Seal of Biliteracy is to plan your course of action. For starters, you must demonstrate proficient English abilities, which is automatically manifested in an English ACT score of 18 or higher. Although there are additional ways in which one can prove their proficiency in English, the ACT is most likely the best plan of action, as the  District provides a no-cost ACT test to all Juniors. Secondly, there are two ways in which you may prove your target language abilities; the STAMP Test or an AP test. All individuals who are able to take an AP language course prior to their Senior year may use an AP test score of 4 or 5 in order to demonstrate proficiency. For students taking an AP language their Senior year, results will not come back until after graduation. Therefore, using that score would not be possible. Additionally, if one chooses to go the AP test route, taking the STAMP test prior to the AP test may increase chances of obtaining an adequate AP score. Thus, it is highly recommended for these individuals to take both tests rather than solely the AP test. For current Seniors and for students who will not have the option of using an AP score, the STAMP test will be provided, free of charge, to all individuals who wish to obtain the Seal of Biliteracy. The STAMP test assesses abilities in reading, writing, listening, and speaking. This year, STAMP testing will occur in March. If interested, reach out to Señora Troy or any language teacher for more information on specific dates, along with opportunities to prepare for these tests. 


Works Cited

Bhattacharjee, Yudhijit. “Why Bilinguals are Smarter.” The New York Times, 17 March 2012, https://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/18/opinion/sunday/the-benefits-of-bilingualism.html. Accessed 25 February 2024.

“Demand for Bilingual Workers More than Doubled in 5 years, New Report Shows.” New American Economy, 1 March 2017, https://www.newamericaneconomy.org/press-release/demand-for-bilingual-workers-more-than-doubled-in-5-years-new-report-shows/. Accessed 25 February 2024.

Dyvik, Einar H. “The most spoken languages worldwide 2023.” Statista, 16 June 2023, https://www.statista.com/statistics/266808/the-most-spoken-languages-worldwide/. Accessed 25 February 2024.

Eppler, Martin J. “The Concept of Knowledge Communication and Its Relevance to Management.” Knowledge Communication, July 2006, https://www.knowledge-communication.org/pdf/research-note-knowledge-communication.pdf. Accessed 25 February 2024.

“How Many People Are Bilingual | How Many People Are Multilingual.” American Academy of Arts and Sciences, https://www.amacad.org/humanities-indicators/public-life/multilingualism. Accessed 25 February 2024.

Lobell, Kylie Ora. “Why Are Companies Hiring More Multilingual Workers?” SHRM, 9 May 2022, https://www.shrm.org/topics-tools/news/employee-relations/companies-hiring-multilingual-workers. Accessed 25 February 2024.

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About the Contributor
Mariana Perez, Editor
Mariana is a Junior at Tosa East. This is her second year writing for the Tosa Compass and her first year as an editor. Her main responsibilities for the Compass are to revise content and distribute stories to writers at East.
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