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TESOL Endorses New Seal of Biliteracy Guidelines

by David Cutler | 12/17/2020
TESOL International Association has formally endorsed the updated guidelines for implementing the Seal of Biliteracy.

The Seal of Biliteracy is an award given by a public or private school or university, school district, or state in recognition of students who have studied and attained proficiency in two or more languages by the time of high school or college graduation. It not only helps students recognize the value of their academic success and see the tangible benefits of being bilingual, but it encourages them to pursue biliteracy, honors the skills our students attain, and can be evidence of skills that are attractive to future employers and colleges. To date, the Seal of Biliteracy has been adopted by 40 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, while legislation is being considered in four additional states to adopt the seal.

Working in partnership with the Modern Language Association, National Association for Bilingual Education, Californians Together, National Association of English Learner Program Administrators, ACTFL, and National Council of State Supervisors for Languages, TESOL played an integral role in developing and endorsing the seal’s guidelines in 2015. The updated guidelines strengthen the seal’s advocacy component, improve pathways to biliteracy, bolster equitable access to earning the seal, and create more opportunities for implementing the Seal of Biliteracy in educational organizations and institutions in the United States and beyond.

“With the development of the new guidelines, I’m even more optimistic about the future of the seal,” said Christel Broady, who represented TESOL on the taskforce to write the original guidelines in 2015 and to update them in 2020, and also serves on the TESOL Board of Directors. “The guidelines now provide multiple pathways for students to reach proficiency in more than one language and can also be used for all languages, including sign language and languages without alphabets,” she added. “I’m very hopeful that ultimately the seal and its guidelines will move beyond the United States to recognize bilingual and multilingual students globally,” Broady concluded.

Although TESOL’s mission is to advance English language teaching, the association is a strong proponent of bilingual and multilingual education and recognizes the importance and benefits of learning multiple languages. Advocates who are interested in expanding the Seal of Biliteracy in the United States can visit the TESOL Advocacy Action Center and tell their members of Congress to support the Bilingual Seal and Teaching (BEST) Act. Once passed, this bill will provide states with the necessary funding to implement or expand the Seal of Biliteracy.

TESOL members who would like more information about the Seal of Biliteracy and updated guidelines can contact Christel Broady

Download a copy of the full press release here