Illinois students who have mastered more than one language can qualify for a Seal of Biliteracy to be affixed to their diplomas.
The state is joining New York and California in implementing this program which, Illinois State Board of Education spokeswoman Mary Fergus says, recognizes proficiency which is probably beyond what four years of high school foreign language will cover.
“It’s the intermediate / high level, according to the American Council of the Teaching of Foreign Languages,” Fergus says. “You can speak, write, listen, and read that intermediate / high level in another language.”
As the word “biliteracy” suggests, we’re talking about a language in addition to – not instead of – English. Figures indicate Illinois K-12 students represent 160 languages, with ten percent of the student body speaking a language other than English as their native language.