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Hundreds of Languages Spoken In Fairfield County Schools

These New Canaan High School seniors are some of the 162 graduates who earned the Seal of Biliteracy this year. Photo Credit: Courtesy of New Canaan Public Schools
Students in Stamford Public Schools have demonstrated proficiency in 119 languages. Photo Credit: Stamford Public Schools

Seventy languages are spoken among students in one Fairfield County school district and half the graduating class in another are biliterate. These foreign language skills have not gone unnoticed.

There are 119 students in Stamford Public Schools who have attained literacy in English as well as another language and will be awarded a Seal of Biliteracy on their transcripts and diplomas, said an announcement by Stamford Public Schools  Superintendent Dr. Tamu Lucero. The Seal of Biliteracy, which was signed into law by the Governor of the State of Connecticut in June 2016, has been offered in Stamford since the 2018-2019 school year.

The Seal of Biliteracy will be affixed on the high school diplomas and transcripts of 162 New Canaan High School seniors, which is 54% of the Class of 2020.

The award recognizes a student’s proficiency in English and one or more other language. The "tangible benefits of being bilingual and bi-literate" are preparing students to become members of a global society said Stamford Public Schools announcement by Superintendent Dr. Tamu Lucero.

This year, SPS students took tests in 15 languages, including first-time recipients in Korean and American Sign Language, and students have demonstrated mastery in Arabic, Creole, French, Greek, Hindi, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog and Ukrainian.

The Seal of Biliteracy is awarded to eligible students who meet English, Reading and Writing Performance Standards for SPS graduation requirements and other criteria. These include scoring 3 or higher on an Advanced Placement exam for the language and heritage speakers who prove proficiency in the language in assessments.

“The Seal denotes that SPS recognizes the value locally and globally of being bilingual in our multicultural and multilingual society. Those who earn the Seal will receive a special medal of distinction to wear at graduation," said Associate Superintendent for Teaching and Learning Amy Beldotti.

"There are more than 70 languages spoken in the homes of our students and 13% are English Learners, which highlights the importance of helping our students develop and maintain multiple languages."

“Whether a student is an English learner who becomes proficient in English while maintaining his/her first language, or a native English-speaking student who becomes proficient in an additional language, biliteracy is something we want to promote, recognize and celebrate,” Beldotti continued.

“This award validates the extremely hard work these students have put into the study of English and foreign languages,” said Lizette D’Amico, New Canaan Public Schools K-12 World Language and English Language Learner Administrator.

 “It also identifies graduating seniors to colleges and universities and future employers as biliterate in at least one other language other than English, as it exemplifies how these future global leaders are preparing themselves for the world ahead.”

Currently, 39 states and Washington, D.C., have approved a statewide Seal of Biliteracy. 

The Seal of Biliteracy initiative also encourages students to explore the many cultures and languages represented in Connecticut communities and to appreciate the value of language diversity

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