The Wonders of Biliteracy

The journey to becoming proficient in multiple world languages


Diego Perez Palomino

Spanish teacher Annie Perez teaches her Spanish 3 class on February 10. Perez is in the head of the Seal of Biliteracy program at Parkway Central, a certificate that assures proficiency in multiple languages. Photo by Diego Perez Palomino..

Diego Perez Palomino, Staff Reporter

The Seal of Biliteracy is a nationally recognized award that honors high school students for their proficiency in two or more languages and their global competency. This distinction highlights the hard work and dedication of multilingual students and provides them with benefits for both their academic and professional futures. 

According to Annie Perez, who is in charge of the Seal of Biliteracy program at Parkway Central, the process of obtaining the Seal is straightforward.

“To be eligible for the Seal, students must demonstrate proficiency in English, proficiency in a second language, and global competency,” Perez said. “Students apply for the Seal in September, their English proficiency is verified by December, they take the language proficiency test in February or March, and the Global Competency Project is due in April.”

While many students prioritize their time and focus on mastering their second language, it’s important to remember that proficiency in English is also required. There are many different ways in which students can show their proficiency in English.

“They must demonstrate proficiency in English by using their ACT English score, English II EOC score, or ACCESS score for English Language Learners.” Perez said.

In addition to demonstrating their expertise in both English, and their desired language, students must complete a separate project. It serves as a way to reinforce their knowledge in both languages.

“The Global Competency Project is due in April,” Perez said. “Students who complete and pass all parts of the process are awarded and recognized for the Seal in May. The Seal is noted on their high school transcript.”

She estimates that at Parkway Central, usually 40-50 students initially sign up for the Seal, with 20-30 students achieving it each year. Although they have a large number of students attempting to obtain the seal, the popularity of the languages stays relatively the same every year.

“The most common languages for which students test are Spanish, followed by Chinese Mandarin, Russian, French, Latin, Hindi, Hebrew, and German,” Perez said.

In terms of preparation for the proficiency test, Perez says that there are demo tests available for most languages, and students can also seek guidance from their world language and English teachers. The impact of the Seal of Biliteracy program is significant.

“Achieving the Seal provides students with various benefits that include recognition by employers and universities of their language and biliteracy skills, preparing them with 21st-century skills for the labor market and global society, and honoring the multiple cultures and languages in our community,” Perez said.

The Seal can be earned in various languages, including but not limited to Spanish, Chinese Mandarin, Russian, French, German, and Latin, and students can test for languages they haven’t taken classes in. One student who plans on taking the Seal of Biliteracy junior year is sophomore Alan Conway, a bilingual speaker, having learned Spanish from his family.

 “I want to take the Seal of Biliteracy because I think it will benefit me in the future, especially when it comes to college,” Conway said.

Having learned to be bilingual while being just a kid has allowed Conway to view everyday life from a different lens than others, as his multiple backgrounds can alter how he sees things.

“Learning multiple languages at a young age has given me a different perspective on the world and helped me understand and appreciate different cultures,” Conway said.

Another student, Caleb Williams, is a current junior who also plans on taking the Seal this year. 

“I think that the Seal of Biliteracy will be beneficial for me in the future, both academically and in my future career path,” Williams said.

Williams is interested in studying business, and considering many major businesses are scattered across the globe, it would be beneficial to understand multiple languages. As a result, Williams hopes that the Seal could open up job opportunities in this field.

“I hope that having the certificate will show potential employers that I have the language skills they need and open up new job opportunities for me in the future,”  Williams said.