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The Student News Site of Thomas S. Wootton High School

Common Sense

The Student News Site of Thomas S. Wootton High School

Common Sense

Seal of Biliteracy exam highlights students’ success in world languages

A+flow+chart+helps+students+determine+the+next+steps+toward+earning+the+Seal+of+Biliteracy.
Image courtesy Dr. James Fetterman
A flow chart helps students determine the next steps toward earning the Seal of Biliteracy.

Last year, 120 Seals of Biliteracy were awarded to this school’s Class of 2023, with four students receiving Seals of Triliteracy (two languages in addition to English) and one student receiving three Seals for speaking three languages in addition to English. This year, the Seal of Biliteracy exam was given on Nov. 15 at school.

Juniors and seniors who speak languages other than English at home or are currently enrolled in a language class at or above level four are eligible to take the Seal of Biliteracy (SOB) exam. Offered in over 35 different languages including: Amharic, Arabic, Armenian, Czech, Filipino (Tagalog), French, German, Haitian Creole, Hawaiian, Hebrew, Hindi, Hmong, IIocano, Italian, Japanese, Kannada, Korean, Mandarin (Traditional & Simplified), Marathi, Marshallese, Polish, Portuguese (Brazilian), Russian, Samoan, Somali, Spanish, Swahili, Tamil, Telugu, Turkish, Urdu, Vietnamese, Yoruba, Yupik and Zomi, the exam recognizes highly-proficient students in the language of their choice along with English. The exams test for the comprehension and production of work in that language, which makes the test, “important because it is proficiency-based, so it shows what students are able to do with the language whether they’re able to understand through reading and listening and what they’re able to produce in writing and speaking,” Dr. James Fetterman said.

The coordinator of these exams at school is the Head of the World Languages Department, Dr. Fetterman. He’s been running not only the SOB exams but also the world languages department for two years. “It’s a lot of work and it takes a lot of time and requires you to be detail-oriented and organized, but I enjoy doing it so that we can help celebrate our multilingual learners,” Fetterman said.

This Seal of Biliteracy is, “an award that recognizes a student’s high level of proficiency in listening, speaking, reading, and writing in English and one or more other languages. High school graduates who can function in two or more languages are equipped with the knowledge and skills to participate successfully in college, careers, and a diverse 21st-century society,” the flyer made by Fetterman explains.

However, there is more than one way to earn the Seal of Biliteracy; for example, if a student receives a four or five on an AP World Language exam they will automatically receive the Seal of Biliteracy without taking the separate exam. The fact that AP exam results are released in July, does not allow seniors to put the SoB on their college applications, making the SoB exam a more timely option as the results are released in December.

The SOB offers a unique addition to applications, especially for students who speak multiple languages, as the previous class of 2023 was awarded the most seals of any graduation class here. “We know that people who are able to communicate in more languages are setting themselves up for success in our increasingly globalized world and not only to be able to live and connect with people in our community but also advance their careers and serve their employers in that way,” Fetterman said.

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Naina Giare, managing editor
Junior Naina Giare is a managing editor in her third year on the Common Sense staff. In her free time, she enjoys listening to music and spending time outside with friends and family. You can also find her on IG @naina.giare
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