The power of the Seal of Biliteracy as a means to encourage study of multiple languages depends upon a school and district having outreach strategies to ensure that students know about the Seal of Biliteracy. It is also important that students take the individual affirmative step of submitting an application for the Seal of Biliteracy Award. To do so, they need adequate notice about the application process and an understanding of the criteria. Outreach strategies have included, for example, school assemblies at the start of the school year focusing on the value of mastering two or more languages and featuring students who have received the Seal of Biliteracy. One district holds class meetings with all entering 9th graders to talk about the Seal and describe the components of a school program leading to the Seal. District brochures are distributed so students understand the process and criteria.
The application may be as simple as a statement of interest or may include short essays about the students’ language history. The application process is viewed by some districts as an opportunity for student reflection about their language experiences. For example, the Stanislaus County Office of Education application asks:.
What language(s) did you first learn to speak in your home? Describe your family background in regard to languages, motivation to learn other languages, travel, etc. (200-word maximum)
Provide a brief history of learning other languages. Include the languages you have learned in school as well as out of school, and describe how you use the language(s) currently. (200-word maximum)
What important differences are there between the languages you have learned? What features of the languages might make it easier or more difficult than other languages? (200-word maximum)
Provide a brief description of your interaction and experiences with the languages and cultural groups. (200-word maximum)
List any successes or culminating events/experiences you have had in your target language(s). Include results of successful language tests or competitions which you have completed as well as any certificates or course grades you have earned. (200-word maximum)
It is important to plan a school year ahead to allow sufficient time for the outreach, application, assessment, and award process.