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World Languages

In the 21st Century knowing a second language is not only beneficial, but necessary for success in life. The continual globalization of the world’s economy is bringing diverse cultures and communities into more frequent contact with each other. The ease of global travel and the internet have collapsed the barrier of distance that once kept the world’s communities separate. From the corporate marketplace to the individual consumer, from the pre-schools to universities, from the beach vacationer to the global jet set, the world community has become integrated and interdependent. Institutions of higher learning are scrutinizing applicants to identify future world leaders.

Employers and businesses are seeking applicants who can navigate the modern global economy. It is through learning another language that students can develop both these skill sets. Learning another language also provides many other benefits including greater academic achievement, greater cognitive development, and more positive attitudes towards other languages and cultures. Simply put, language learning is necessary for students to effectively function in the modern global marketplace.

In addition to meeting the needs of future students, language learning has been shown to greatly enhance student performance across the curriculum.

Source: ACTFEL

World Languages Academic Standards

The Pennsylvania State Board of Education, in the Pennsylvania Code Chapter 4 Academic Standards and Assessments, has set forth the following requirements for the teaching of world languages:

  • World language programs must prepare students to be proficient in meeting the World Language Standards issued by the Department and available on its web site. Every school district shall provide planned instruction in at least two languages in addition to English, at least one of which shall be a modern language, and at least one of which shall be offered in a minimum 4-year sequence in the secondary program (middle level and high school).
  • World language planned instruction under subsection (a) may be offered beginning at any grade level, including the elementary grades.
  • World Language Standards address the ability of students to communicate in a language other than English, including the ability to understand and interpret written and spoken language on a variety of topics and to develop knowledge and understanding of other cultures.
  • As used in this section, the term ''world language'' means the study of the language, cultures, traditions and histories of different communities of people who communicate in languages other than English. American sign language is a world language.

Since world languages are not assessed via a statewide assessment, school districts must have a local assessment system in place and determine the proficient levels on those assessments.

The Standards Aligned System (SAS) is the Pennsylvania Department of Education's digital curriculum and instruction resource site. Available on SAS are the Pennsylvania Standards and resources for teaching and developing high quality education programs.

Seal of Biliteracy

The Pennsylvania Seal of Biliteracy (PASB) is an award presented by a school or district in recognition of students who have attained intermediate-high proficiency in English and one or more additional world languages upon high school graduation. By establishing the PASB, the commonwealth encourages college and career readiness and engagement as a global citizen through the academic rigor of attaining proficiency in English and one or more world languages by high school graduation.

The purpose of Pennsylvania’s Seal of Biliteracy is to:

  • recognize the value of world language and dual language programs in Pennsylvania schools
  • affirm the value of cultural and linguistic diversity in our schools and communities
  • encourage family and community support for the development of home languages other than English, as well as the study of additional world languages and cultures
  • encourage all students to acquire proficiency in English and another world language
  • certify intermediate-high proficiency in English and another world language
  • provide employers with a method of identifying candidates with biliteracy skills
  • provide universities with a method to recognize biliterate students
  • promote civic and global engagement

Pennsylvania does not require schools to offer the Pennsylvania Seal of Biliteracy nor does it provide financial support or incentives for offering a PASB program.

The Seal of Biliteracy Toolkit is available on the SAS website

Certification

CSPG 45 – World Languages (PK-12) pertains to world language education certification. Questions regarding certification requirements should be directed to the Bureau of School Leadership and Teacher Quality at ra-edcertquestions@pa.gov.